This blog is for those:
- Having trouble loading the dumbbells
- Having trouble on the first rep
- With back issues
- Shorter in height
Many people ponder this question, especially if the traditional “correct” way is to keep your feet on the ground. Feet on the ground is, in fact, correct form. You have more stability and strength in this position. Also, your legs will be able to help protect your lower back. There are however, exceptions to this traditional form.
A short person on a tall bench will usually end up with an over-arched low back (hyperlordosis of the lumbar spine) if they keep their feet on the ground. This can be uncomfortable and can potentially lead to injury, especially under heavy loads.
Even someone of average height using an average height bench may have this problem if they have very tight hip flexors.
It is not just height, but also leg length will be a factor. If you are 6’4” then this is not even relevant since your legs will never be too short for any benches. Typically this affects those 5’8” and shorter. For instance, I’m 5’8” with short legs, tight hip flexors (I’m working on this), and have a history of low back injury. So unless I have a very short bench and I managed to pick up some flexibility on my hip flexors (I have btw), most instances I will have my feet up on the bench.
Body attributes and conditions where you may need to put your feet on the bench:
- Shorter stature/leg length
- A tall bench
- Low back problems
- Tight hip flexors
Proper Loading Techniques and the First Rep
- To get the dumbbells into the correct position before first the rep and
- To stabilize the dumbbells before the first rep
Loading the dumbbells can be done a couple different ways. One way is to lay back with the dumbbells starting at the bottom of the press. This is the most commonly seen method. It allows for the lifter to keep the dumbbells close to the body for ideal control while laying back.
Another method is to start the lift with the dumbbells at the top of the press. This is done by keeping the dumbbells in contact with the thighs close to the knees while laying back. This method allows you to guide the dumbbells as you get in position.
Both are fine ways to start the exercise. If lifting light, you probably won’t notice much of a difference when comparing the two. As you build strength and start getting into the heavier dumbbells, say for a 10 rep max, then you might run into trouble getting them into the correct position or completing that first rep.
Here’s where using the knees to guide the dumbbells can help you out. The only problem with this method is that it takes time and energy away from your actual lift.
Try out both and see which one you like best. If yours goals involve major gains in muscle and strength I suggest learning how to properly lift from the bottom of the press. Check out the videos as exercise is always better explained through video.