If you went through a mental checklist while getting yourself ready to blow out a set of flat bench press in the gym, the last thing that you are probably concerned with is foot position. But believe it or not, that plays an important part in not only getting the set completed, but also performed to its maximum potential.
So without further a-do, here are some tips for foot positon on different common exercises:
FLAT BENCH PRESS
Sure, hand, head and back position have their roles here. But your entire balance and power structure are enhanced when your feet are flat to the floor at shoulder width. You don’t want to squeeze your feet on the bottom of the bench with your knees bent upwards because that throws off your stabilizer muscles and makes it harder to complete the set.
How about those people who lift their legs, bend their knees and crisscross their feet while benching? That’s even worse than keeping them on the bottom edge of the bench and makes no sense. It doesn’t add anything to the exercise and the only thing it will result in is an off balanced set that you may need to cut short.
STANDING BARBELL CURL
So you think that your lower body – and more specifically your foot position – matters little with this movement? Think again and once we break it down for you, it will make more sense. The wider your stance, the shorter the range of motion will be due to the bar hitting your outer thigh before it should.
What you want to do is stand with your feet no wider than shoulder width and preferably a few inches narrower than that. You will have the ability to take the rep lower on the negative portion and that will in turn give your biceps a deeper stretch.
Powerlifters tend to take a wide open stance and that may result in yanking up heavier weight, but it will not help much in terms of doing more than giving you better bragging rights in the ‘one rep max’ discussion.
The reason why powerlifters stand spread out like that is because the range of motion is much shorter. Great to stay on top in a meet but that means shit when you want to bang out full sets. The longer the range of motion, the harder you’re working the target muscles. What you should try to do is keep your feet at just outside the shoulder width mark, as this is prime position for good balance.
This pertains to standing, seated and donkey calf raises and the common mistake that people make with one or more of these movements is to place their feet too far back, leaving just the toes on the platform to raise the weight.
Here’s the best tip for calf raises – cut your foot exactly in half and place the top portion on the platform. You will have it exactly where it should be and that will allow for plenty of room to go up and down at full strength. And you can also get fancy by pointing your toes in, out or straight forward, as they all work a different part of the calf.
Here’s another exercise that a powerlifter does differently for the sole purpose of pushing weight. That wide stance should be left to those guys and you should stand with your feet shoulder width so your balance and power level are both even. You want to imagine yourself pushing through the floor with the bottom of your feet as you go higher each rep.
Another reason why you should refrain from the wider stance is that style takes some of the attention away from your quads and puts it on your glutes. Have you ever seen a big powerlifter with a small ass? Of course not. So leave the big booty stuff to them and Kim Kardashian.
Pointing your toes slightly outward is the most common stance for squatting and that will work for you regardless of how wide your legs are.