T Nation

How Do You Train Bench? Pauses and Arch


My two main questions are about pauses and bench arch.

So as I see it there are 3 Pauses. Tap and go, Normal pause and IPF.

Assuming we will get IPF commands how do you train bench in regards to pausing? Always train the same or add in pauses later in preps?

And arching. A lesser arch would increase ROM and make it harder but an arch is sport specific. Me personally arching usually aggravates my back so I tend to only “hard arch” on test days or close to them.

Do you always use the same arch? Or maybe do different varieties through out prep or even on different days in the week?


I generally train touch and go. My touch and go and paused bench are 15 lbs apart, fairly consistently.

I hard arch all the time, and my back is fine. If it hurts you, don’t do it. Remember in a meet you still need to deadlift after bench unless you’re a specialist.


Depends on the where you’re at during prep. Usually as you get closer to the meet your training becomes more specific.

We’ve the same general idea in terms of pausing.

I don’t pause during accumulation/hypertrophy phases. I get in more overall work this way and rep prs are great confidence boosters. Touch and go carries over to pause well enough.

Normal pausing during the first halfish part of my strength/intensification. Then IPF or 2/3 count pause the second half and during peaking. May as well practice long pause so if you get slow calls during the meet you are fully prepared and fast calls are a bonus.

If arching depends on how much of an arch you use in comp. If it’s not much than you can get away with using less in training. If it’s a big arch could definite see you losing some of that mobility over a prep.

Kinda like the front squat the best way to build mobility for the front squat rack position is to front squat. Once achieved the best way to maintain is to front squat. Other the way around if you don’t front squat you can lose it and takes a while to get it back. If your peaking phase is long maybe you’ll have time but if not you’ll be leaving kilos

I’m kinda a medium arch that’s uncomfortable but not painful so I arch hard every time i bench press. Just like to keep set up and technique the same every single time to engrain that motor pattern and skill. Thousands of reps = mastery (*should equal cos my techniques still shit tho lel)

In accumulation phases I’ll use Dumbbells on flat or incline with minimum arch to be safe to get in work over full ROM. Would use a duffalo bar if I had access.


Paused vs no I tend to mix up. Both are going to have a great carryover so I don’t worry too much but if you’re weak off the chest then more pause work is good, if you’re not then I would limit it to pre-comp practice unless you’re just feeling pausy one day.

My training arch is a lot less intense than my competition arch, I also don’t keep everything quite as tight. My reasoning is simple, the tension required for a max comp style bench isn’t something I can maintain through all my working sets so I tend to only start busting it out pre-comp for a few weeks on heavy singles just to ensure I’ve got my routine and form down.

Keep in mind that doesn’t mean I’m not tight, squeezing the bar etc but if 100% is comp I’m like 70-80% for most of my training. Again the 100% is just too tiring to do a full workout that way.


A few things:

IPF commands aren’t as crazy as some people on the internet would have you think. I have competed in several IPF-affiliated meets and never had an issue with the pause, and at least two of the meets had an international level IPF judge in the middle chair (not sure about the last one). The pause is basically just bringing the bar to a full stop on your chest, if you let it sink in a lot, lose your arch, or wobble then maybe they will make you wait longer but I have never had more than a 1 sec. pause. However, what I have had an issue with is waiting for the start command. At one meet I was holding the bar at arms length for 4 full seconds - not counting the time between unracking and bringing it to my start position - on my third attempt. Needless to say, I lost tension and failed the lift. I have also seen a guy holding the bar at lockout and waiting for the rack command for several seconds, his whole body started twitching because he couldn’t take it anymore. I assume that in both cases the judge wasn’t sure if elbows were locked, I can’t think of any other reason. Moral of the story: make sure to lock your elbows and keep the bar under full control as your bring it to your chest.

As for training, I would advise doing at least some paused benches all the time but not doing t&g will make you lose the stretch reflex. And no, I didn’t make the last part up. Some people can get away with not training paused bench (like Dave Ricks with a 450 bench at 58 years old) but they are in the minority. Long pauses (like 3 seconds) are good to use in a meet prep cycle or if you have issues at chest level. At the moment, I have been pausing some heavy singles and wide grip bench (for higher reps), everything else is t&g. Dead bench is a good exercise to build bottom end strength as well, but it doesn’t help with the actual pause.

And if arching too much aggravates your back then it probably isn’t going to work for you in a meet. Whatever extra pounds you add to your bench will be outweighed by what you lose off your deadlift. If you can’t use a particular technique in training then you shouldn’t use it in a meet. Not only will arching change the ROM but it will also change the angle of your arms in relation to your torso, similar to a slight incline or decline. No-arch bench or feet-up bench can be useful exercises, but you need to practice your normal setup or you can expect problems.


I train bench much as I compete, pauses and all. My arch is pretty moderate though. My bench is quite pahetic though, so bear that in mind.


I’m the same as Mark, all my Bench work is paused, on occassion I also pause my close grip work.

As for my arch, I try my best to setup the same everytime I Bench. From personal experience with back pain from benching, open up your hips wider and really flex your glutes, I’ve found this to help transfer leg drive better. Instead of my leg drive pushing my hips up the bench and under me, over extending my lower back, with flexed Glutes my hips stay tight and the leg drive is transferred all the way up to my traps.


Thank you!!!

I am going to add in some tap and goes on later reps and probably do the first rep IPF paused.

As for my arch recently it has “clicked”. Squeezing glutes and learning to push with my quads has moved the arch pressure from my lower spine more to my upper back which is much easier on my back.