Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wednesday Review: Standing Bench Press

For this week's review I will write a little something about an exercise I have begun to use as a replacement to the standard bench press. I have personally had success with this exercise and one of my clients, David, has particularly liked this variation as part of his workout. 

The standing bench press is performed using a cable column with standard handles for grips. The motion performed is exactly the same as a standard flat bench press, the only difference is you are standing in a vertical position the entire time. Maintain an upright posture, and a split stance before beginning the exercise. The benefits of this exercise over a standard bench press are the ability to engage the core muscles in a vertical position while executing a strength-oriented movement with your limbs. I think one commonality we understand as Strength Coaches is that core muscles fail before major muscle movers such as the quadriceps and in this case, the pectorals. 

The solution to this problem for athletes then is to simultaneously train both groups by moving in a more functional movement pattern like upright rather than lying on a bench. For example, I may not be as concerned with how much weight a football lineman can bench press if they can only push a marginal amount of weight in an upright position because their core is underdeveloped. In their sport they need to push while standing upright, not lying down (unless they are being knocked over frequently).

On the flip side, when personal training the general population, it is almost surprising how many people can not do 10 body weight pushups with correct form. If someone can not successfully move their own body weight, there is almost no sense in putting them under a loaded bar or with two dumbbells in hand. I think you are undoubtedly going to cause more harm than good over time. Throw in a phase of standing bench press and try it for yourself.

If you are unfamiliar with the exercise here is a video:


  1. sounds good, im gonna try it

  2. great advice, will the exercise work with only one pully at a time?

  3. John,

    Using one pulley at a time will certainly work and actually could be more beneficial if we're talking about using the exercise for developing core stability. In fact, this may be one of the progressions I could use for this exercise. Currently, I will progress into an alternating situation, where two cables are being used, but one stays extended in front at all times. This produces a force that must be overcome through the core. I have not used only one cable with a client to date, but I will keep you posted when we progress to that point. Very interesting.