Big Bench Tip #3 – Leg Drive

This is more of a pet peeve than a tip, really. Watching poor form drives me crazy, particularly when a bencher completely ignores half their muscle mass when benching: legs hanging limply off the bench, feet dancing around as the reps get tough, feet up in the air during the press.

Ok, that last example actually has a useful function. However if you’re 5’9”, weigh 155lbs, and are pressing 135lbs with your feet in the air, you’re wasting your time. Learn to bench properly first, add some muscle, build some strength, and then start playing with isolation techniques.

Failing to involve your lower body in the lift is a common error. How exactly do you involve your lower body in the lift? Leg Drive!

What does leg drive do for you?

Driving through your feet creates muscle tension from your toes all the way up to your traps. It helps you maintain stability throughout the lift, and helps you maintain your back arch and keep your chest up. Put together, these lead to a bigger bench.

How do you incorporate leg drive into your bench?

  • Plant your feet flat on the floor. You may have to try different foot positions to find what works for you, but start with your feet underneath your hips.
  • Keep your shoulders firmly planted on the bench (you may need to chalk them so they don’t slide on the bench), drive though the balls of your feet and push your hips toward your shoulders. This will push your torso up into a tight arch.
  • Continue pushing through your legs maintaining the drive throughout the full range of your bench press. Your entire lower body should be tight, from the balls of your feet through your thighs.
  • If your legs are too short to plant them firmly on the floor and drive hard, try placing a plate underneath them as you bench.

If you are maintaining proper leg drive and tension, the only noticeable motion in your bench is the bar moving up and down. Your feet, legs, hips, abdomen, and chest should remain stable and motionless.

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