Powerlifters are known for arching their backs on the bench press, but is this good, or even safe? Megan GallagherISSA Certified Personal Trainer, American Weightlifting Instructor, and YouTuber on three reasons to arch on the bench press.
Learn why arching your back during the bench press can be beneficial, and how to set it up on your own.
3 reasons to arch on the bench press
1 – Retract the scapula
Scapula retraction simply means tightening your upper back, which creates a safer position for the bench press.
Start by pressing your shoulders against the bench, then retract your shoulder blades by puffing out your chest and retracting your shoulders.
This tightens the upper back and adds stability to the shoulders.
If your shoulders aren’t locked in place, you don’t want to put a lot of weight on the bench.
2 – Reduced range of motion
This is especially important for lifters, as reducing the distance the bar needs to travel allows you to lift more weight.
By retracting your shoulder blades and creating an arch, it means you can reduce the range of motion on the bench press, making the exercise easier.
This does mean that the bow bench press is not as effective for breast enlargement, but it will increase your total. So figure out what’s more important to you.
Quick warning: While a large arch is not meant to be comfortable, it shouldn’t be painfully painful.
3 – Distribute the load to your legs
If you are arching on the bench press, you can use your legs to do the bench press. A flat back means that most of the weight is on the upper back, but creating an arch allows you to distribute the weight you lift between contact points, including your legs.
Moving your feet closer to the bar’s path will increase the tightness in your upper back and continue to lift more weight.
“If you’re tighter, you get stronger, and that’s the way it is,” Gallagher said.
Is arching on the bench dangerous?
Arching your back shouldn’t be dangerous if you know the setup and bench press using the correct technique.
Gallagher points out that there are always risks in any physical activity you do, but following proper technique should minimize the risks.