T Nation

Bench Press

Hello guys,

A few weeks back I decided to start bench pressing strictly competition style : ass on the bench, feet flat on the floor. Obviously, my lifts went down ( 15 kg. ) , but the problem is that I can not progress lifting in such a manner. I simply don’t feel my legs engaging at all, it’s like my chest / triceps / lasts are doing all the work and my legs are just resting.

I can not tuck my feet under the bench as I used to, to create an arch, because then the heel will go up and if, during the lift, I try to get a drive from my legs, my ass shoots up instantly. I should ideally film it, which I might do, but thought I’ll ask first. Thanks in advance for any input.

Does your fed not allow your heels to be off the ground? If you feel stronger with your feet underneath you may just want to find a fed that allows you to press that way. When I try to get leg drive I find that if my toes come off the ground my ass comes off the bench, conversely, if my toes stay planted so does my ass.

Then there is also the argument that leg drive isn’t that important. Mark Bell claims that he benched some obscene amount of weight before he even heard of leg drive.

Search for videos of top benchers with their feet flat on the floor but still tucked underneath them. Also, work on back and hip mobility if you don’t feel like you are getting adequate arch in that position.

Check to see how high your knees are in relation to your hips. If I don’t tuck I have to sprawl my feet our fairly far to get my knees below my hips as this will prevent your butt from elevating when you press.

Even when I tuck though I press through flat feet. That’s my last step to tighten up… driving my heels to the floor.

[quote]devoted wrote:
A few weeks back I decided to start bench pressing strictly competition style : ass on the bench, feet flat on the floor. Obviously, my lifts went down (15kg), but the problem is that I can not progress lifting in such a manner.[/quote]

(1) In all likelihood your current bench setup sucks. Lifting within the rules does NOT reduce someone’s strength potential. It might take some time to transition, though.

(2) I don’t even know what you mean by the second part - “I cannot progress…”. You still have to train your ass off to make progress, even with perfect form.

[quote]infinite_shore wrote:

[quote]devoted wrote:
A few weeks back I decided to start bench pressing strictly competition style : ass on the bench, feet flat on the floor. Obviously, my lifts went down (15kg), but the problem is that I can not progress lifting in such a manner.[/quote]

(1) In all likelihood your current bench setup sucks. Lifting within the rules does NOT reduce someone’s strength potential. It might take some time to transition, though.

(2) I don’t even know what you mean by the second part - “I cannot progress…”. You still have to train your ass off to make progress, even with perfect form. [/quote]

1 ) Well, when I benched with my feet under me, heels elevated, ass off the bench, I did 175kg, but once I put my feet flat on the floor, ass on the bench, my lift went down to 160 kg, cause I wasn’t able to drive from my legs and " bump " the weight with my torso because my ass was strictly on the bench.
2) regarding " I can not progress " . When do an illegitimate lift ( ass off the bench, heels raised from the floor ), I can progress and add weight on to the bar over time, but since I started doing strict bench, my strength isn’t going anywhere.

[quote]devoted wrote:

[quote]infinite_shore wrote:

[quote]devoted wrote:
A few weeks back I decided to start bench pressing strictly competition style : ass on the bench, feet flat on the floor. Obviously, my lifts went down (15kg), but the problem is that I can not progress lifting in such a manner.[/quote]

(1) In all likelihood your current bench setup sucks. Lifting within the rules does NOT reduce someone’s strength potential. It might take some time to transition, though.

(2) I don’t even know what you mean by the second part - “I cannot progress…”. You still have to train your ass off to make progress, even with perfect form. [/quote]

1 ) Well, when I benched with my feet under me, heels elevated, ass off the bench, I did 175kg, but once I put my feet flat on the floor, ass on the bench, my lift went down to 160 kg, cause I wasn’t able to drive from my legs and " bump " the weight with my torso because my ass was strictly on the bench.
2) regarding " I can not progress " . When do an illegitimate lift ( ass off the bench, heels raised from the floor ), I can progress and add weight on to the bar over time, but since I started doing strict bench, my strength isn’t going anywhere.[/quote]
It sounds like you were bouncing before and now you are actually pressing. Give it time and you will improve.

[quote]devoted wrote:
I can not tuck my feet under the bench[/quote]

Why? Are you simulating lifting in a fed that requires the whole foot on the ground? Unless you plan on actually competing in that fed bench how you want to, because there are feds that allow the heel to be raised.

Once you feet are set up, however it is that you chose to go from here, Squeeze your glutes hard, as if you were trying to hold your guts in ( that’s as polite / less graphic as I can come up with at the moment, sorry)“hug” the bench with your thighs and squeeze those glutes, while pressing the heel to the floor. This will be likely be very uncomfortable.

YES!,YES!,YES! there is so much going on with a lift and while you’ll be thinking about one aspect, 5 more will be FUBAR. Record yourself. It will be very telling.

EDIT - Leg drive, while important, isn’t “magical”. All it does is serve to make your whole body rigid, therefore maximizing the potential to press more. Similar to jumping on a hard surface vs jumping in sand. does this make sense?

[quote]StrengthDawg wrote:

[quote]devoted wrote:
I can not tuck my feet under the bench[/quote]

Why? Are you simulating lifting in a fed that requires the whole foot on the ground? Unless you plan on actually competing in that fed bench how you want to, because there are feds that allow the heel to be raised.

Once you feet are set up, however it is that you chose to go from here, Squeeze your glutes hard, as if you were trying to hold your guts in ( that’s as polite / less graphic as I can come up with at the moment, sorry)“hug” the bench with your thighs and squeeze those glutes, while pressing the heel to the floor. This will be likely be very uncomfortable.

YES!,YES!,YES! there is so much going on with a lift and while you’ll be thinking about one aspect, 5 more will be FUBAR. Record yourself. It will be very telling.

EDIT - Leg drive, while important, isn’t “magical”. All it does is serve to make your whole body rigid, therefore maximizing the potential to press more. Similar to jumping on a hard surface vs jumping in sand. does this make sense? [/quote]

Yeah, I understand what you mean. It’s probably as Ecchastang wrote, I used to allways bump my weight up with help of my torso, but now I’m actually " pressing " the weight so it just so much harder. Concerning the leg drive, at the moment I don’t feel any drive at all, I might as well just put my legs up on the bench, zero effect.

[quote]devoted wrote:
Concerning the leg drive, at the moment I don’t feel any drive at all, I might as well just put my legs up on the bench, zero effect.
[/quote]

On leg drive and set up. What helps me is to think about trying to push so that I slide off the end of the bench all the while of trying to keep my balls to the bench and touch my ass and my shoulders together. This will help you keep the arch, and to keep your traps / upper back planted into the bench.

Don’t sweat feeling the leg drive so much, worry about pushing yourself away from the bar. Like I said, your legs aren’t lifting the weight, they are simply making your body rigid to push off of. If you go soft, that’s on you and something to work on IF you chose to bench this way. There have been numerous great benchers who lay there like a dead fish and put up good numbers. The fun part is finding what method works best for YOU, and having fun doing it! good luck man.

I had the same frustrations when I switched over too. I benched 275 last fall with toe tuck and big arch, and lost 30 lbs when I switched over, and still haven’t hit 275 properly (grinded 265 last week). I’d suggest weak off the chest since your arch loss will have increased the ROM. Flat foot leg drive took three months to figure out for me.

Now, however, I have damn near ideal bench press form and can do competition pause bench with heavy weights. I had to widen my grip, strengthen my chest, and beat form into the ground. Weight took a hit but my body is better off in the long run and I’m happily IPF legal.

I think you’re confusing “leg drive” with “lifting my ass off the bench so I can handle more weight”. Honestly sounds like a strength issue, nothing else. Keep hammering away at it, you’ll be good.

Yeah, sounds like you were bounce hip thrusting the weight up, and now you aren’t cheating. Strength is a skill, just keep practicing.

Olympic style squat shoes are also nice to bench with. The shoe stays flat but it elevates your heal so you can get on the balls of your feet.

[quote]WhiteFlash wrote:
I think you’re confusing “leg drive” with “lifting my ass off the bench so I can handle more weight”. [/quote]

HAHa, you fix that by wearing a 2 size too big singlet and spraying stick em on your ass, then when your butt comes off the singlet stays on the bench :slight_smile: I kid, I kid…

[quote]StrengthDawg wrote:

[quote]WhiteFlash wrote:
I think you’re confusing “leg drive” with “lifting my ass off the bench so I can handle more weight”. [/quote]

HAHa, you fix that by wearing a 2 size too big singlet and spraying stick em on your ass, then when your butt comes off the singlet stays on the bench :slight_smile: I kid, I kid…
[/quote]
That one trick could add 20 lbs to my lift!