Bench - Back Arch?

I made a 80kg Bench Press today! BooYa!

But I had to change something and I would like some discussion on it.

I tried 80kg with my usual setup - relaxed back with a small natural arch - like I’ve been doing since I started. I of course failed.

Then I reset and tried Secret 11 in the article: 15 Secrets to a Bigger Bench Press
by Ian King

I was somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd most aggressive stance - bringing my feet up under torso and driving with them a bit.

I made sure both my arse and upper back remained on the bench at all times during the lift since I’ve been taught that is the ‘safe’ way and if you lift your arse off the bench you can hurt yourself. Is this true?

What would be the impact if I always benched with such a large arch? Would it lessen the effect on building the chest muscle since some lifting power is coming from my legs?


Oh, and I’m gonna make 85kg next lift!

What is your main focus? Power or Size?

If you want to bench 85kg, keep working on your arch, lat strength, leg drive, etc. Actually, just try to get stronger in general. You’re not even close approaching a point where special considerations need to be made (arch, foot placement, squeezing the bar, etc).

If you’re trying to put on muscle, there’s two things to consider: getting stronger and doing movements that hit the muscle.

Arching does not hit your pecs very much.

If you want size, don’t let your ego get in the way. Just try to get stronger, but don’t cut out ROM to hit bigger weights since you’re not competing in powerlifting.

SK is correct in his analysis of your form. The stance your using is one typically used in powerlifting. A natural arch is fine but most people get this wrong by over exageratting the back arch lifting their hips off the bench. Make sure you always have 5 contact points on your bench (head, RL, LL, butt, shoulders). Focus on retracting your scapulas (contracting your rhomboids) when lying on the bench as this will give you the needed arch. At this point in your training where you havent yet hit a huge plateau i would focus on using working with less arch (natural or slight is fine).

Work on keeping good contact with the bench and the strength will come. I boosted my bench from 145 to 265lbs in my first year of training not using the power lifters arch. If your getting good results with that foot positioning then continue using it but working with many athletes who arent power lifters the neutral leg positiong at 45-50 degrees seems to work better for them.


Thanks guys. Just so I’m clear this is what I think you both said:

The arch being an advanced technique will give me a bigger bench because of a decreased ROM (chest is higher and bar comes down less to touch it) and extra power coming from other parts of my body which are not the chest muscles.

This means the movement becomes less effective at actually increasing my chest strength and/or size.

My focus would lean towards size, not power, at this stage.

You are correct; I’m no power lifter at these light weights.

I will not use such an exaggerated arch in my training for now.