T Nation

Bench Press Arch Hurt My Lower Back


#1

About 3 weeks ago I posted on here saying I hurt my back but at the time I wasn’t sure why. Thankfully the issue took only a few days to resolve and wasn’t too serious.

Last night I deadlifted and then went on to do close grip bench press. Two theories:

  1. Doing these two movements on the same day is too much - I find that hard to accept as people do it all the time.

  2. The arch in the bench press is hurting my back - more likely.

I am now getting shooting pains in my lower back, it feels very painful and stiff - same as last time. I was arched my back just a minute ago and immediately felt a sharp pain at the lower back so feel confident that it is the arch that is causing the problem.

I have looked online and also read here some conflicting views. Some saying an arch is not worth it, it is an injury risk, and others saying they disagree.

Has anyone else had back issues from arching?


#2

It can be a mix of both. Arching more with your lower back and hip area than with your entire / upper back puts a lot of pressure on the lower back especially if you are heavy with your leg drive. This is usually fine as long as you have enough time to get used to a big arch and have time to recover from it.

I made the mistake of benching with a really big arch on Mondays and deadlifting on Tuesdays without realizing that arching too much was the issue. Now I haven’t been able to deadlift for squat properly for 2 months because of that.

Some possible options:

  1. Use a smaller arch and gradually make it bigger. Make sure you try to arch your entire back instead of just ramming your hips as low as possible.

  2. Use a smaller arch and stick with it. Unless you are going to compete and/or using a smaller arch agitates your shoulders, there’s really no reason to make the arch as big as possible.

  3. If you decide to utilize the bigger arch, make sure you put deadlifts and bench press as far away from each other as possible. If this still doesn’t help, don’t push it and choose 1. or 2.

  4. Drop the arch from close grip bench.


#3

In addition to what Furius said. Maybe see a chiropractor. Work on your QLs. Search EliteFTS for an article by Chad Aichs called Arch Your Way to a Bigger Bench March 17th 2016


#4

I debated this issue recently with a few lifters who use a big arch (one benches 205kg at 83kg, so fair enough, but the others seemed to think his technique would suit them too, and I wasn’t so sure). I feel it’s not worth it, as the risk of long-term damage is too great, but they disagree, saying it’s important to build up gradually (they also believe in working up to using max-legal grip width, which I also disagree with, lol!)

I really feel that a slight arch and a strong setup otherwise is best as I’ve suffered from serious back problems related to this in the past, and I feel that the small decrease in RoM isn’t worth it. However, if you’re competing at a high level and you find that it doesn’t cause you problems, I don’t think you need to change. If you don’t know, err on the side of caution and arch moderately; if you’re experienced and like to arch “excessively”, go ahead. Only you know what your back can tolerate.

Remember, many of the best benchers in the world don’t arch very much - especially in heavier weightclasses. It’s down to personal choice, but a lack of arch is not what’s preventing you from benching to elite standard. It really isn’t.