An Effective Guide On Arched Back Bench Press

The arched back bench press became quite famous in the past few years as gym enthusiasts and celebrities took it online to showcase its benefits. 

However, soon the internet was torn between two sides about the benefits of this exercise. While some praised the benefits of the arched back bench press exercise, others dismissed the exercise to be very dangerous, to begin with, arguing that it can lead to serious injuries.

Some gym trainers and supervisors even deem the arched bench press as cheating. So what is this arched-bac bench press all about? Is it beneficial as it claims to be, or can it be dangerous and lead to sustainable injuries? Can doing this exercise be considered cheating in competitions?

Please read the article until the end to know all the answers to all these questions in great detail and clear all your doubts regarding it.

Why We Arch / How To Arch : Bench Press

A Complete Guide On Arched Back Bench Press

A. What is an arched back bench press? 

Also known as the powerlifter arch, an arched back bench press is a bench press where the back is in an arched position and the spine is put into extension.

The top of the arch starts at the shoulder blades or the scapula, and the bottom of the arch ends at the pelvis. The scapula and the pelvis, which are anchored on the bench, act as pivot points. The midsection between these two points bends in the form of an arch. The effort is taken to make the rib cage rise as high as possible while lying flat on the bench.

This exercise is one of the key regimes used by power weightlifters. However, it can be used by regular gym enthusiasts as well, but taking proper precautions is mandatory while practicing.

B. How to do an arched-back bench press? 

  1. Place your feet on the bench. 
  2. Bring your hips into the air so that the overall body weight is on the upper traps. 
  3. Now at this position, grab the bar and set your grip. 
  4. Retract your shoulder blades and depress 1them. 
  5. Pull your shoulder blades together actively and make sure they remain pinned down to the bench. 
  6. Next, bring your feet down on the floor. 
  7. Once your feet are set, push aggressively on the floor so that you can maintain the tension on your upper traps. 
  8. Make sure while you set your feet, you are still keeping your hips elevated off the bench. 
  9. Then take the bar off the rack. 
  10. As soon as you do so, bring the glutes down to the bench 
  11. Keep your low and mid-back elevated as much as possible. 
  12. Now, as you bring the bar down on your chest, cue yourself to keep your chest high. 
  13. Also, make sure to keep your lower glutes flexed this entire time so that your lower back remains protected.

C. What are the benefits of an arched back bench press? 

Some of the possible benefits of an arched bench press are:

  1. An arched bench press helps in lifting as much weight as possible. This exercise is especially beneficial for competitive powerlifting, where the main motive is to lift as much weight as you can. Arching makes the distance to the bar shortened, which slightly helps in lifting the weight. 
  2. Arched back bench press aids in squeezing the shoulder blades together, which keeps the sensitive ball and socket joint in place. Hoisting hundreds of pounds of weight over the chest risks the injury of shoulder joints more than the back. An arched bench press helps in reducing the risk of injury. 
  3. An arch creates a full-body tension which is more effective than lying supine on the bench. 
  4. An arched bench press activates quads, shoulders, glutes2, and core muscles and makes them strong and healthy. 
  5. Muscle activation caused in the arch bench press recruits more muscle fibers in the lower pack, which overall produces more force production. 

D. What are the risks of an arched-back bench press? 

An arched bench press may look easy at first, but there are certain risks that one should be aware of before including it in the exercise regime.

  1. The position brings a lot of pressure to the lower back. During this exercise, the spine is in an extreme extension position and this, in turn, increases the risk of injury to discs and nerves. 
  2. Injuries like disc herniations can be caused due to the spine being loaded posteriorly. 
  3. The arched bench press decreases the range of motion. This might help you lift more weights, but it diminishes the prospect of muscle building. By doing an arched back press, it limits the growth potential of the muscles. 

E. Is an arched-back bench press a form of cheating? 

An arched bench press is a controversial exercise as many people deem the bench press arch as a form of cheating. The person moves far less weight as compared to someone who is lying flat on the bench.

But is it so? Let us break it down for you for ease of understanding.

Cheating can only be considered when the bench press arch breaks some rule. Since this form of exercise is mostly used by powerlifters, let us then look at some of the limitations of powerlifting.

According to the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF), rules specifically specify that there need to be certain points of contact on the bench and floor.

Depending on the rules, the surface area between the blues and the shoulder blades does not need to make contact with the bench, therefore doing an arch can be considered within the boundaries of the rules.

However, it is always advisable to consult the rules of the competition before executing an arch bench press.

F. What to keep in mind while performing an arched-back bench press? 

  1. The arched bench press is a complex exercise. Naturally, you would not be able to master the arch in the initial stages, but patience and hard work are key to mastering it. 
  2. Some exercises that can help you to improve the arched bench press are:
  • Use a dynamic thoracic foam roller to loosen up the spinal erectors so that the thoracic muscles can loosen up before you start benching. Using a static foam roller after the workout can also help you to increase your range of motion through your mid-back. 
  • Heavy strict mid-back rows can also help you to improve your arch bench press. 

Now there you go. Hopefully, the article was able to solve all your queries regarding the arched bench back press. This form of bench press is a controversial topic, and before you include this in your exercise regime, you should consult with your gym supervisor.

Read more from us here.

  1. Wang, Jianjun, et al. “1-Hydroxyethylidene-1, 1-diphosphonic acid used as pH-dependent switch to depress and activate fluorite flotation I: Depressing behavior and mechanism.” Chemical Engineering Science 214 (2020): 115369. ↩︎
  2. Trentesaux, Coralie, et al. “From gut to glutes: The critical role of niche signals in the maintenance and renewal of adult stem cells.” Current opinion in cell biology 63 (2020): 88-101. ↩︎

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