Benchpress To arch or not to arch


There are several ways to perform a Bench press. For example, you can choose to place your feet on the ground, in the air or on the bench and you can choose between lying straight on the bench or pulling your back hollow. In this case there is no right or wrong method, because this depends on your objective.

Muscles and joints used
During the bench press you mainly use your shoulder and your elbow joint. With the shoulder joint you make a horizontal adduction and an flexion. You make an extension with the elbow joint. You mainly use your chest, shoulder and triceps muscles.

The execution and advantages
With an arch you pull your chest up as far as possible, so that you get a hollow back. Hereby you shorten the distance of the movement. If you want to move a weight in a certain distance over a certain time, you need energy for that. The shorter the distance, the less energy you need. So when you use an arch during the bench press, you shorten the distance from the bar to the chest and you need less energy.

However, the difference is only noticeable if you do multiple reps. When doing 1 rep you probably won’t benefit from a shorter distance, but with 100 reps this will be the case. This is because it takes less energy if you move the weight a shorter distance.

Stronger during the arch
The fact that you are often stronger during an arch usually has to do with another reason. Namely that the direction in which you push changes. The pectoral muscle works better down than up. Take, for example, the difference between a declined press and an inclinded press. You will notice that you can lift more weight during a declined press than during an inclined press. This is purely due to the position of the muscle and the direction in which you move.

In addition, you can lift more weight, because the sarcomeres have an optimal overlap. Your muscles consist of different links, referred to above as sarcomeres. If the links are all the way to the end, you cannot deliver that much power. We call this passive insufficiency. When the links are completely put together, we call this active insufficiency. In both cases they do not work optimally. By moving less you ensure that there is an optimal overlap between sarcomeres and you can therefore deliver more power.

Archen therefore ensures that you can use more weight during the bench press, so that you have a higher mechanical load and you therefore have a greater chance of muscle development in the form of strength and muscle growth.

Too much pressure on the spine?
Many people worry when the back arches during the bench press. It is then thought that there is a lot of pressure on the spine. However, during an arch the weight is supported directly above the shoulder joint and the shoulder joint leans on the bench. This ensures that there is relatively little pressure on the spine. Whether you are concave, convex or straight, it is important that you ensure good trunk stiffness. This way you always protect your spine.

If you do have problems with your back now, it can sometimes help to raise your feet. We recommend that you put 2 steps or 2 boxes next to the bench and place your feet on them. In contrast to placing the feet on the bench, this ensures that you still have sufficient stability and can provide enough pressure.

Choose the method that suits you.
The arch is an advanced version of the Bench press. We therefore only recommend this when someone has more experience with training. Arching can also be very useful for a specific purpose like increasing strength. It ensures that you can lift a high weight and if you are tested on that at a competition, for example, then this variation is a handy choice for you. Both variants are therefore not necessarily right or wrong, there is mainly a choice as to why you choose one or the other.

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