How to Get a Better Back Arch During Bench Press
Why do people do arched back bench press? When arching your back during the bench press, it doesn't have to be excessive but it can make a huge difference in how much you can lift! When executed effectively, your knee will be lower than your hip. To add to the value of arching your back, consider using a non-slip bench press mat to provide much needed back and shoulder grip.
To properly set up for an arch, consider the following:
- Lay flat on bench press to begin with your hands on the bar; placing them where you normally do is fine.
- Place your feet, flat if possible, on the ground. You should be bending your knee at about 90 degrees with quadriceps parallel to the floor.
- While still holding the bar, drive through your feet as if you were going to push your head off the bench press. Your hips should shoot up off the bench!
- Notice here that your only points of contact are your shoulders, upper back, and neck as well as your feet. That's it.
- While still pushing through your feet, slowly rotate your pelvis and hips down towards the bench press until your butt touches the bench.
- You should be in an arched position.
If following these steps feels uncomfortable, this is likely because your mobility isn't where it needs to be. This is a great opportunity to start from the ground up, ensuring that you build hip/thoracic mobility to support a bigger and eventually more comfortable arch!
The main reasons for bench pressing with an arch:
- Protects your shoulders and keeps them healthy
- Adds stability to your whole body when pressing
- Shortens the range of motion
Shoulder health applies to everyone who performs the bench press. When benching with a flat back, the bar has to travel a greater distance since your chest is further away. Thus your elbow has to travel a greater distance as well, which in turn creates a greater angle between your shoulder and elbow putting a lot more stress on the shoulder joint. This added stress creates a greater risk for injury. This is why benching with even a slight arch can be beneficial for anyone who performs the movement. It keeps your shoulders protected and healthy!
Stability and Tightness
If you were to watch someone bench press without an arch they usually have a lot of unnecessary movement throughout their entire body. This instability creates a few problems. The largest issue is that this instability can put the lifter at risk for injury. Think in terms of not bracing for a deadlift; this creates instability and risk for injury.
The other issue with the instability is that the lifter won’t be able to press their optimal weight. If the lifter incorporated a slight arch, and created a nice tight and stable system through their feet, and up into their back and shoulders, then they would create a situation in which they are able to press more weight and see better results.
Shortened Range of Motion
This advantage mostly applies to the lifters who are competitors, and are trying to lift the most weight possible while staying within the rules of competition. The way this works is quite simple. Benching with an arch brings the lifters chest closer to the bar, and therefore shortens the distance that the bar has to travel, requiring less work to complete the lift. Benching with an arch also allows a lifter to create optimal drive with their legs, to create more force when pressing the bar off of their chest.
A big arch often times results in a pretty big press, and this is where a lot of the controversy comes in. Some believe that benching with a big arch is cheating, and that it should be banned or regulated in competition. Arching is an ability either natural to a lifter or gained through practice and just like any other sport, ability (whether natural or attained) is never regulated. The rules state that as long as the lifters butt is on the bench, and feet are on the floor it is a legal press. So no matter the size of the arch, as long as it’s within the rules, why should it be illegal?
We don’t ban people from the NBA because they’re too tall, we admire them.
The advantages of an arch are only attainable if your back and shoulders are not slipping backwards while benching!
Having Difficulty Gripping Your Bench Press?
During step 3 of the first section, when you're applying force through your feet you may notice that you begin sliding backwards on your bench press, away from your feet. This isn't good. Sliding back on the bench press will result in a loss of tightness.
We highly recommend investing in a non-slip bench press mat like The Backbone. The Backbone stops your back and shoulders from sliding on any bench press! It provides optimal grip, allowing athletes to focus on repetitions as opposed to being distracted by unnecessary movements caused by slipping backwards.
If you're serious about using leg drive during bench press or improving your arch, then you need your upper body to remain glued to your bench press. Additionally, The Backbone provides grip and thickness similar to competition-grade powerlifting bench presses so if training at a powerlifting gym isn't an option, we have your back!