T Nation

Bench Arch Work


Anybody here had success getting their arch bigger? What methods have you used? I have seen some guys put a foam roller under their back. But the one I have access to is pretty big and is difficult for me to use. Any tips and advice welcome, Thanks


The best practice for improving my bench arch was getting into my bench arch.

I also found that thing where you face away from a wall and put your palms on the wall behind and get lower and lower while clenching your ass to be helpful too. Helps stretch the hip flexors too.


Good luck with that. My arch is the same as it was 10 years ago. I just dont freakin bend that way, and I ain't tryin to be a circuis freak contortionist either...lol So instead of worying about shit I can't change I just work on what I can change.

Maybe I'll just grow a giganitic "Ab" and hold it up with a belt, bench to that...haha It could take 4 " off my stroke!! haha


I've had great success with improving my arch. I would foam roll the back, I used to use an 8 pound medicine ball instead of a foam roller. Then while lying flat on the ground inside a squat rack with the roller under my lower back I would brace my arms against each side on the rack/hooks (whatever you want to call them) and gently push against them as if I was trying to bench press myself into the ground, which I kind of was. Over time my upper back came closer and closer to touching the ground and finally, I could touch my ass and shoulders to the ground with a six inch foam roller under my lower back. My shoulders were not retracted like you would setup on the bench, since that action brings them closer to the ground. The roller was a homemade one, which I don't reccomend people try, which consisted of four inch abs pipe contact cemented to 5/8 inch foam mats. If I ever need a new roller, and I probably will, I would never consider making one again.


I forgot to mention that I would recommend doing this stretch flat on the floor only. I've found that putting the roller under your back on the bench is much, much easier. My guess is that the forward rotating of the hips helps the lower back arch, I'm not entirely sure hopefully one of the experienced veterans will post a comment.


I would suggest going to elitefts.com and asking Joey Smith, he has been working on his arch for a few years...I think he said he started out with a 4" pvc pipe before moving to a foam roller.


"Strength Stretching" by Pavel T. is on Elitefts. It is awesome. Pavel is a maniac.

Honestly though, nothing substitutes a good coach standing over you telling you what to do. I learned more in one day at Westside and an hour talking to Jeremy Frey and Joey Smith than in my entire 10+ years of lifting and learning on my own. There is a video of Joey and Jeremy teaching the bench at the recent Learn To Train Seminar, I will see if I can find it.

Arching has a lot to do with two variables:

  1. How tight you can get and
  2. How uncomfortable you are willing to make yourself

The first 2 weeks I started really working on an arch, I had a constant lower back pump/ache. It sucks.


Found it... and Jen Comas is hot... and yes, those are my vibrams in the backround.


Very hot, indeed. I didn't realize there was anything going on in the background, lol.


just ignore this if it doesn't seem helpful (since i'm just learning to bench and only just learning about the demands of the exercise)...

how about stretching yourself backwards over a gym ball? my gym has a couple of different sizes. the bigger it is the easier it is. the gym ball support means you can be gentle (rather than pulling yourself into an injury). you can start to backwards walk your hands and feet really close together. stretch things out to push yourself up into a bridge unsupported by the ball.

maybe this would help?


ooh. it occurs to me... um... does your butt need to touch the bench or are you allowed to bridge?


Butt needs to touch the bench, but not the entire heinie. If we are talking percentages from top of cheek to bu-thigh area, I'm probably only at 1/2 with my arch.


thanks for that. turns out i can't arch for crap with that constraint lol.

um... i read something somewhere... that suggested that powerlifting benches were a bit higher than most commercial benches. is that true? if so then that would make me feel a little better about my arch sucking so bad. it is hard to get my legs back, basically, unless my ass is higher in the air than the bench - but if the bench was a bit higher then that would help.

if that is the case... is there a non-stupid way to make the commercial bench higher (i think it is bolted to the floor)?