We All Want an Arch!
In the good ol' days, all you needed to be big and strong like Arnold was a pair of chucks and a bag full of determination, right? Maybe a little juice sprinkled in here and there, but who's counting? Nowadays, us savvy powerlifters aim to optimize our movements to get the most output possible. One way that is achieved is by using an arch during the bench press.
To achieve the best arch possible, you must mobilize your thoracic spine, use leg drive, and glue yourself to the bench.
Having good posture has multiple benefits. The benefit that concerns us today is that good posture will help your bench press! Yep! That’s right, standing up straight will help you push more weight. For the bench, the area you want to focus on is your upper back, or thoracic spine. The goal of these following exercises is to promote thoracic extension, or the “chest out” position.
- Foam roll before the bench press, driving the roller into the depths of your upper back. With the foam roller under your shoulder blades, try extending your arms overhead to open up that spine of yours.
- Shoulder dislocates work wonders. Grab a broomstick or long PVC pipe and work through the range of motion. Both hands on the pipe in front of your body, lift it overhead, continue the motion as far back as possible while keeping your arms straight.
Use Leg Drive During Bench Press
Leg drive; it is not only an option to use your legs while you bench, but it is actually more efficient and will make you more more weight!
To all competitive lifters out there, I am sure you have seen a handful of folks that slide into their construction boots right before they bench. This might be a bit excessive, but there is some merit to this technique. The added heel on a boot assists in keeping their heels on the floor, thus maximizing their ability to drive with their legs. To maximize leg drive, heeled shoes are recommended. For most, a good pair of squat shoes will do the trick. If you are unfamiliar with leg drive, take a look at these 2 tips:
- Plant your feet firmly on the gym floor, tighten up quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.
- Once tight, you will want to grip the bar tightly and push your shoulder blades into the bench. To practice the motion, push your body using leg drive, and let it slide up the bench, but in training, do not slide.
Sliding up the bench, away from your feet, means a loss of tightness. When we lose our tightness, loss of power is always expected. Stay tight. Stay still.
Glue Yourself to the Bench
Now that you are familiar with what leg drive is, you can hone in on the skill and maximize your arch, thus maximizing your bench potential. While you are pushing hard with your legs, keep these 2 things in mind:
- You MUST keep your shoulder blades pressed down into the bench so they do not slip. We can imagine trying to squeeze a penny between our shoulder blades. As noted before: slipping means loss of tightness which means loss of power.
- Use The Backbone as a non-slip bench press mat. Commercial gyms often have worn out and slippery benches, creating a poor platform for your arch. The Backbone prevents all slipping. It's a bench press grip mat designed by a team of seasoned powerlifters and can be taken to any gym and used with any bench. The material will lock your shoulder blades down to the bench, allowing you to use a ton of leg drive, which will improve your arch, thus maximizing your bench press potential.
You wouldn’t take your near sighted eyes into a classroom without a good pair of glasses, would you? No, you wouldn’t. You know that those glasses play a key role in maximizing your learning potential.
In this case, benching without an arch or The Backbone is like forgetting your glasses. It's time to start maximizing your bench potential!
Thanks for reading!