The Bench Press

To Arch Or Nah


"Stop arching you cheater, you're not even working your pecs! I could easily bench 655lbs if I did a gymnastic back bridge with a barbell as well." We hear this same line, over and over again and although social media has grown the sport of powerlifting a ton, there are many that think that(arching) is still “bad” form. We can totally understand why and we are here to tell you not necessarily and well...why.

Common school of thought is that if you are arching your back it will put pressure on your spine and of course there is the part where you are barely moving the bar. Truth is the sport of powerlifting like any other skill has techniques that allow us to perform at our best and lift safely. The sport of powerlifting is to be able to lift a single repetition with the most amount of weight in the squat, bench and deadlift. Also the majority of wider grip benchers will benefit from an arch.

The goal is to create stability, we are using our quads to drive our upper back into the bench. If the athlete is a bit more flexible in their hips and thoracic spine they will automatically get an arch. This benefits the lifter from reducing the range of motion. Typically is a lifter uses a more narrow grip they arch a bit less and have to rely on brute strength to move the bar.

To play devil's advocate, if your ultimate goals are hypertrophy(get that size bby pls) using dumbbells or even a machine to utilize a longer ROM of the humerus is not a bad idea. Even as a strength athlete doing some barbell bench to start the workout, strength work and finishing with dumbbells to get more range of motion and hypertrophic stimulus would be a great plan.

Long story short, training, programming and technique have many variations that can work depending on the application. Gathering information from many training philosophies, using some experience and logical thinking will lead us to be able to answer these questions as athletes and coaches. In an ever evolving field that is human strength and performance. I stan arching.

- Silent Mike

Since you're into the bench or chest stuff...check these articles out(links below).

---> Quit Benching Like A Bro <---

---> 3 Best Chest Exercises <---