You can increase the weight on your bench press today! You don’t need to create a whole new strength training program to break through your weight lifting plateau. Improving your bench press technique will result in significant, immediate results. Arching your back during bench press is a very effective technique to give your bench press more raw power. Done correctly this bench press technique will add pounds to your max bench press.
Why do powerlifters arch their backs during their bench press? Depending on your strength training goals, you may or may not want to incorporate this bench press technique into your bench press program. Bodybuilder’s goals, for example, are to stress the muscles, force them to grow. If you are a powerlifter, your goal is simply increasing your bench press one rep max. This bench press technique will add pounds to your max bench press!
How Does Arching Your Back Help You Increase Your Bench Press?
- Arching your back reduces the range of motion of your bench press, reducing the distance the bar travels
- Performed correctly, arching your back will leave your entire body tight. Your upper back and chest are ready to snap like a rubber band, thrusting the weight from your chest. Your quads are tight, keeping your body stable on the weight bench and allowing you to drive with your legs.
Arching Bench Press Technique
- If needed, and your gym allows you to, chalk your upper back, along your traps and the top of your shoulders. This will anchor your shoulders to the bench preventing you from sliding forward on the weight bench as you set up for your bench press.
- Lie down on the weight bench and position your traps and shoulders to the bench
Take a wide stance with your legs, and walk your feet up under your hips as far as you can while still keeping your heels flat on the floor.
- As you walk your feet up under you, slide your buttocks up the bench towards your shoulders, arch your back pushing your chest up and out as you do
- Rotate hips and pelvis down toward the bench
- Once in position every muscle in your body should be tight, from your quads, through your core, your pectorals, and your lats
Performing the Bench Press Using a Back Arch
- Keep all the muscles in your body tight throughout the lift
- During your bench press your head, shoulders and traps, and butt must remain in contact with the weight bench, your feet must remain flat on the floor. This is per International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) rules, but typical of many powerlifting federations.
- Lower the bar to the bottom of your pecs – no lower than the base of the sternum (again per IPF rules)
- Thrust the bar explosively from your chest using your lats, and keep the momentum going and lock the bar out using your triceps
- Drive through the floor with your legs, driving through your toes toward the head of the weight bench. Make sure your heels remain flat on the floor.
Arching your back during the bench press can increase your bench press. Many lifters focus simply on the reduced range of motion presented by the back arch. Applied, correctly, however, an arch will leave your entire body tight during your bench press, providing a stable lifting platform, and ready to explode, driving the weight from your chest.
If you’d like additional tips that may help you improve your bench press, you may want to check out an additional article I wrote on this lift. I have gotten positive feedback from other lifters who have used these tips:
- Powerlifting Basics: The Bench Press
- Powerlifting Basics: Tips to Improve Your Bench Press
- Powerlifting Tips: Bench Press Lockout
- Powerlifting Tips: Bench Pressing with Chains
If you’re new to powerlifting, you can find an article I wrote introducing powerlifting at the following link:
About the Author:
For more information about my strength training background and an index of other related articles I’ve written, you can visit the following link.
2008 USAPL National Championships
“Life’s too short to be small!” (author unknown)
Author’s Opinion: If you’re new to lifting weights, keep your exercise routines simple. You don’t need complex routines and exercises to build significant strength and size. Your basic compound lifts, such as the squat, deadlift, and bench press will give you a great foundation to build on. Follow my basic rules on strength training:
- Work on perfecting your technique – strive for ‘perfect’ form with every repetition
- Set up a balanced training program centered on your big compound lifts (and your individual training goals)
- Establish a good diet with plenty of protein and sufficient calories
- Expect steady progression – lift what your body’s ready for
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