Posted by on Jun 21, 2014

Strength Training
 John Phung, NSCA-CPT is a 5’4″, 200 lb fitness blogger and strength evangelist with a focus on building strength through barbell training. He has a simple, yet effective approach to strength training & nutrition using minimal equipment and a handful of exercises to achieve maximum results. John is training to get stronger and inspires others to do the same. Visit John on his blogTwitter, or Fitocracy. Want to train with John? Check out his team, PR Destroyer.

I recently had two breakthroughs in my bench press, which have allowed me to destroy my previous personal records. And now I’m going to share them with you.

1. Use leg drive… correctly

“Leg drive” might just be the number one piece of advice doled out about improving bench press. But how do you actually do it? I figured out how to utilize this “leg drive” during bench press sometime during the past couple of months, and I’m sure it has contributed to my continued gains.

I discovered this by using my *imagination*:

Here’s what I do:

What I try to imagine is if there was a bathroom scale placed underneath my upper back, buttocks and one for each foot as I am lying down on the bench.

Imagine 4 of these: 1 underneath your upper back, 1 underneath your butt, and 1 for each foot.

Imagine 4 of these: 1 underneath your upper back, 1 underneath your butt, and 1 for each foot.

I then push with both of my legs and raise my hips so that my butt is OFF the bench. Then I lower but buttocks gently so that they are barely touching the bench.

If I pretend to have an out of body experience and take a look at those imaginary bathroom scales while I’m pushing into the ground with my legs, I would see that most of the weight distributed on my feet and my upper back, with nearly 0 lb of pressure being placed by my buttocks.

It’s almost as if I’m trying to lift my butt off the bench, but just not quite there yet.

In this position, my quadriceps, glutes and back will be contracting hard and my back is arched and my butt will be touching the bench ever so slightly.

Even before unracking the bar, my is body is tight and uncomfortable.

2. Prevent your back from slipping

After figuring out leg drive, my bench press went up, but I found myself pushing so hard with my legs that sometimes my back would slide on the bench.

Here’s an example of me slipping on the bench while attempting to bench press 350 lb:

As you can see at around the 0:47 mark, the position of my head and body suddenly jolts backwards as I started pushing harder with my legs on the ascent, causing me to miss the rep.

It sucks! I would have had that rep had it not been for the my back sliding on the bench.

The first thing I attempted to remedy this situation was chalk. I already have it in my home gym, so might as well use it. I’ve put chalk on my back and on the bench but had varying success. Sometimes it would work, but other times I would slip.

A user on Fitocracy directed me to a post on which mentions the use of a rubber mesh used to line shelves, and nearly at the same time, Craig Hirota made a comment to use the same thing.

So I picked up a roll of this “Shelf & Drawer Liner” from the dollar store and put it to the test.



I choose black in color to match the Rogue bench. Plus, anything else wouldn’t look as manly.


The roll is 1’ x 5’, which fits my bench just fine. It’s a little long, but I let the excess part hang off the edge. I may cut it to size in the future.

So far, it works pretty good.

Earlier, I missed on a 360 lb bench press due to my back slipping once again. I did not have the rubber mesh liner at the time.

Now, 2 weeks after, here’s how it looks after placing the anti-slip rubber mesh shelf liner the bench:

No slipping! Not bad considering I hit a bench press PR using a $1 item Laughing out loud Good investment if you ask me.

Another way to prevent sliding on the bench during bench press is to use bands. It’s also mentioned on ATG’s post, but check out the video below by Greg Robins demonstrating how it’s done:

If you’re having the same problems with your back sliding during the bench press, pick up a roll of this non-slip rubber mesh liner and try it out!

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