T Nation

Improving Bench Arch

I’ve watched the Bench press videos from Dave Tate a lot. I’ve experimented quite a bit with my own technique to figure out what seems to work best for me.

Mostly, I was wondering if there are stretches, mobility drills, exercises, etc that can help me get a bigger, better arch.

Dumbbell pull overs. BUT NOT THE BODYBUILDER’s TYPE!

These are designed to give you arch, not stimulate your chest/lats.

Lie with your upper back on a horizontal bench, and the rest of your body in the air, your feet firmly planted on the ground. Suck your tummy in, then drop your hips as low as your flexibility allows without moving your rib cage. Once you are in the arched position keeping your abs braced, flex your entire upper/middle/lower back, and try to puff your chest out. Now you should feel like you are incredibly tight, and about to explode. Then do some light, breathing dumbbell pullovers. Stick with a 8-20 rep range.

Once you are pumped, practice puffing your chest out and getting that same tight arch whilst standing up, and also whilst lying on a bench press. If you are tight enough, you should struggle to unrack the bench press because you are so ‘in position’.

Is this best to do as an accessory towards the end of the workout?

It sounds like you’re saying get in a really tight bench arch, then do pullovers… or is there more to it? Are my hips going to be in the air when I start my set?

Hip flexors, rectus femoris, and intercostals. Foam roll the upper back for thoracic mobility (do little crunches). A personal favorite is standing about 3 feet back from a wall, with straight legs, place both forearms on the wall in front of you; let your ribcage sink forward and take some deep breaths while working on flexing your erectors up and down the whole spine. I think arching is mostly a flexibility issue, so frequency is the key.

Put a thick piece of pvc pipe under your lower back while benching. When you are comfortable with it, move to a thicker piece or wrap a towel or two around it to increase thickness.
Brian Siders shows how in this video;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eT14npnUak

Contract the hell out of your back as well. Squeeze those shoulder blades and tighten up to the point of cramping is what helped me.

[quote]Fletch1986 wrote:
Is this best to do as an accessory towards the end of the workout?

It sounds like you’re saying get in a really tight bench arch, then do pullovers… or is there more to it? Are my hips going to be in the air when I start my set?[/quote]

Yeah that is pretty much it. You let gravity pull your back into the right arch, then you do pull overs. Your hips should be in the air, but sunk far below your knees.

[quote]dumbbellhead wrote:
Contract the hell out of your back as well. Squeeze those shoulder blades and tighten up to the point of cramping is what helped me.[/quote]

Squeeze everything til it feels like it might cramp. Good advice.

Over an extended period of time try to bring your feet closer to the stand whilst keeping the head in the usual position.

Stand about 2 feet away from a wall with your back facing it, put your hands above your head and try to reach backwards and get your palms flat on the wall, then try to “walk” your hands down the wall, this will cause your back to arch, the further down the wall you can get your arms the more you will need to arch your back. Build this up slowly.

A couple good stretches and a painful sounding exercise. Cool deal. Thanks.

What I did to help with my arch is while laying on the floor head down grab onto something like a weight stack and slowly start pulling yourself up the stack, your back will go into a bigger arch as you slowly pull yourself up, when you get to a point where you can’t pull up anymore, just relax and let your body sink into the arch for about a minute or so.

Also, using the pad on a glute/ham raise to stretch out, just layback over it and hold a weight on your upper chest and then relax and sink into that for about a minute. These two really helped, to give you an idea, I’m a 198er and can have my feet touching the foot plates(where the spotter is) when I’m in position on the bench.