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I have heard various powerlifters on youtube to use the leg drive(1) and keep your shoulder blades tucked in or together throughout the rep(2) (just as we do on the low bar squats) while doing the bench press.

I am on stronglift 5*5, 22/M/58Kg/179CM, and as the weight is increasing gradually I want to learn how to use the legs as stabilizers on the bench press, even though I have them in correct position I am not able to generate any force with them.

Secondly, a common recommendation is to keep your hips glued to the bench, back arched and shoulder blades as tucked as possible to prevent unnecessary shoulder use, I have been trying this but it seems I loose this tension mid way. But today I noticed this all the more because I felt some abnormal sensation in my right shoulder (maybe the rotator cuff).

Please help me achieve 1 and 2 effectively.

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It's a little hard to write this out, but when benching "power lifter style", I usually approach like this:

  • Try to drive your shoulder blades into the bench. You want lots of positive and balanced contact between your upper back and the pad.
  • You will be on the toes / balls of your feet, which helps to arch your back.
  • Your feet will be nearly under your butt, certainly your upper hamstrings.
  • Keep your head hovering over the mat, don't let your head rest on the mat.

This is a pretty good image:

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A big part about doing this power lifter style is to reduce the distance the bar has to travel. By pushing your chest up you shrink the distance from bar to chest, which when you're at 1RM makes a difference.

For training I wouldn't arch quite so hard until you're getting near your 2RM of somewhere in that neighborhood. Be tight, but don't "cheat" with power lifter style if you're really training and supposed to lift full ROM.

Your legs are stabilizing your body, keeping you from moving about on the pad as the bar goes up and down.

It's not comfortable, natural, or even a great way to train the bench, but all in it's the most effective way to push the most weight in a contest. In powerlifting the bar needs to stop on the chest and the judge will tell you when to push. If your chest is 2" higher, that's 2" less of a lift you have to do.

  • 1
    Note that the feet must be flat on the ground in most powerlifting competitions. – Daniel Oct 16 '14 at 20:28

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