No lift is exempt from the full-body-engagement rule. If you have not heard the full-body-engagement rule, you can probably glean lots from the name. Basically, lifting is done with your shoulders back and down (shoved into the lats), your abs are engaged, your butt engaged and your legs pressing to an imaginary midline. Some lifts require slight alterations depending on the direction you are moving the bar, but basically, that is it.
Let’s take, for example, a lift that seems like it might defy this rule, the bench press. You are laying down- doesn’t mostly full-body contact with the bench let us off the hook when it comes to stabilizing our own midline. NO. No it does not. Well supported and stabilized muscles are stronger than muscles used in the vacuum of bad body positioning, NO MATTER WHAT THE LIFT!
Check out the video of our good friend and excellent lifter, Millan. Her 1RM Bench is somewhere around 130 lbs. I asked her to demonstrate two bench presses. One is done without the aid of 45 lb plates at her feet; this keeps her from fully engaging in midline stabilization during her lift (so if you are Millan’s height or shorter-yes, you should have your feet on plates). The second lift in the video allows Millan to stabilize better as she can press her feet info the plates allowing her to engage her legs and core more efficiently. I did nothing to edit the speed of these lifts, but you can see that if she did not use plates at her feet, her 1Rm might be 115 not 130.