Should you arch your back during your bench presses? Is this a correct and safe move? As long as there are so many questions about it, it could be quite tricky.
The proper bench press technique is essential in developing the musculature of your chest. Just like with any other exercise, correct body position is a must, if you want to reap the benefits and avoid injury.
Back arching during bench press
People doing this exercise stick their chest out and that’s how fitness instructors happen to advice. When they do this, the shoulder blades are pulled back together and the upper back arches. The position helps one use more of their chest musculature. This is considered the right way to arch your back for bench presses. The problem is that there are a few things are left unsaid here. Arching may lead to lower back injury – incorrect arching, that is. Yes, there are two different ways in which one may do this.
Arch correctly to reap the best benefits of bench press
To arch correctly, you need to focus on your upper back and let the shoulder blades come close together. Keep your lower back as it is, do not arch that part. Also, keep the feet on the ground and do not lift the heels in any way. The lower part of your back must remain totally flat on the bench – or anyway, as flat as the natural spine curvature allows.
The shoulder blades pull means that your chest has more room to expand and this is a good thing. This is the safest position, too. If the term ‘arching’ is confusing, then you may call it ‘flexing’ the upper back.
Be aware of bad back arching
At the gym you may see some outrageous examples of bad back arching. Most of the time, it’s about faking strength. Some lifters get to curve their spine excessively and that is bad for them. The better way is to adopt a position that, if it were vertical, it would be like standing tall and sticking your chest out. Big arches may be used by competitors, but to them it’s a different business. Regular gym goers should avoid this. It ads unnecessary pressure to the lower back and can be dangerous. Not only that – it also makes the lifting ineffective, because the motion range is decreased. In other words, you don’t get to build as much muscle as you would with a flatter back.
What should you remember?
There’s another catch to excessively arched bench presses. While these may seem like an advanced exercise, the skills involved are not transferred to other areas. This is the ‘fake strength’ that was mentioned earlier. You will not get better at any other exercise just because you get to do this.
Extreme back arches are not completely forbidden, but you should correlate these with your level of training and experience. Those who do this are either newbies who don’t know what works for them or highly experienced athletes who are very well aware of what they’re doing.
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