Bench Press: To Arch or Not to Arch…

Jun 22, 2022

Bench Press Arch or Not

A lot of arbitrary “rules” of lifting come from powerlifting.

(Ex: shoulders down and back, weight in the heels, chest up etc.) ⁣

So is arching the back just an old powerlifting “rule”? Or is it a smart movement strategy that you should use?⁣

Benefits of the Arch

The main benefit of arching the lower back is actually how it positions the shoulders.⁣

Scapular retraction/depression (down and back) allows for stability and decreases the demand for shoulder extension range of motion.⁣

Long Story Short

  •  Using scapular retraction decreases shoulder extension demand. ⁣
  • This allows for a full range of motion bench press to the chest without excessive anterior shoulder joint stress. ⁣

How about the low back compression and rib flare?

It depends on the person. If they are extension sensitive right now for one reason or another then yes, avoid it, but the spine is unloaded in this position. There’s nothing inherently wrong or dangerous about the position. ⁣

If you’re worried about “core activation you would be better served by adding a 30-second plank between sets.⁣


Bottom line

There’s a time and place for modifying, but the arch position serves a function and is not inherently dangerous.

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