Your missing link to achieve a stronger Bench Press
Updated: Jul 22, 2019
Did you ever wonder why the bench press is playing in the same league like the squat and deadlift? Certainly not because it is a pure chest exercise like for example dumbbell flys. I am talking about the leg drive (some people also call it floor drive) - the reason why a properly executed bench press is a compound lift that puts your full body strength and coordination to the test.
But what is leg drive / floor drive and how does it benefit your bench?
Leg drive is no mystical creature that is only rarely encountered by elite competitive powerlifters and it is also not as simple as just pushing the heels down while pressing. Leg drive is an art that every lifter can learn to master in order to maximize his/her bench or at least squeeze out a few more kilograms.
How does leg drive work and is it the same for every lifter?
Leg drive is all about the right foot position of the lifter according to his/her individual size (especially limb length) and mobility. Basically there are two feet positions you can choose from: "toes down / heels up with legs tucked to the bench" and "heels flat on the ground with feet wide out". If you are a shorter lifter, position nr. 1 might be the best whereas taller lifters profit more from position nr. 2.
How to utilize the leg drive?
Firstly find your right stance (1). The next step is to set your feet up early (2) - before you get under the bar. Subsequently you have to execute leg drive (3) which depends on whether you opted in for foot position nr. 1 or 2:
Nr. 1 ➡ stomp your heels to the floor and as you lower the bar to your chest start squeezing your glutes. As soon as you are about to press the weight back up squeeze the bench with your thighs and slam your heels to the floor.
Nr. 2 ➡ spread the floor outwards when lowering the bar (this is comparable to the squat or sumo deadlift). When you are about the press the weight back up drive your toes into the front of your shoes.
The rest is all about timing. I recommend practising leg drive technique while doing paused bench presses.