Skip the Arch in Your Bench Press to Build More Absolute Strength

TAGS: arching, Stefan Waltersson, Boris sheiko, arch, grip, mobility, Sports Training, sports, athlete, bench, strength, powerlifting, bench press, training

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People with a big arch claim that they are really strong since they can push big weights in the bench press. The ones who bench without a big arch think that this isn’t true since the range of motion is so small that it doesn’t show real strength. The question is actually more delicate than this. Let me explain!

A big arch means that you have less range of motion; you don’t need to bend your arms that much with a big arch. The arch allows you to handle more weight, and when you compete, more weight is all that counts!


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In order to show real strength, though, arching isn’t the way to go. And in order to build more strength for different kinds of sports, arching is pretty much a waste of time. I don’t write this article to criticize arching. On the contrary, I want to point my finger to the advantages of using it if you are a competitive powerlifter! That’s why we need to figure this out.

You can’t compare apples and oranges, so you can’t compare arching and a flat bench press! If you’re a fighter or a football player, you can get a better payoff using a flat bench instead of arching like the best powerlifters do. But if you’re a powerlifter and have enough mobility to fix the arch, do it! If you don’t have the mobility, try to get it!

Every millimeter of the motion counts. You have a certain amount of time when you can keep maximal strength present in the muscles: time to tension-time. A shorter range of motion means that you can spend more time with maximal strength present in every transported millimeter of the lift.

When I had Boris Sheiko over for a seminar in May 2019, he told me that the most important part to getting big numbers depends on how you move them — not only how strong you are. And that makes sense. Strength doesn’t help you if you don’t know how to move the bar. If you can move the bar more efficiently, less strength is required. You become more economical with the resources, which means more power is released with less effort.

I have seen powerlifters who are trying to add an arch to their already existing bench technique and get a broader grip. If you’re not already there, maybe it isn’t the best for you. It’s the same thing with broadening the stance in squat or sumo deadlift. If you don’t feel comfortable yet, you can lose your strength even if you get a shorter ROM.

You have to be strong in the exact angles to release the full power in the lift! You can’t go from having no arch to a full arch at once, and you can’t go from close grip bench to a full wide grip at once, either. Take one step at a time and connect more and more muscles that assist the movement.

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To get stronger with the arch, you have to train to get stronger in the arching position!

It’s not only flexibility that is required. You have to transfer the strength from your old benching position to the new one. When you try to get more flexibility, you have to relax. But you can’t lift big weights while you’re relaxed! So, you need to train the flexibility with weights of tensed muscles.

Some people who train cardio are fascinated by the fact that even if they have good condition on the bicycle, they suck at running and can get their hearts to pump the oxygen to their muscles at the same speed as when they are riding a bicycle.

That’s because the muscles don’t work in the same way. You have to calibrate them to get better to what you should be good at. If you want to be a better runner, don’t use your bicycle — run! If you want to get stronger in your arching position, ARCH! If you want to get stronger without depending on a big arch, DON’T ARCH!


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Everything has to get stronger in the arched position to make the arch strong enough. I have noticed a difference in my athletes who trained rowing exercises (i.e., reversed flyes) in their arching position compared with the ones who haven’t. It’s a pretty logical thought. If you get stronger in the arching position in every muscle — not just the ones who seemingly are executing the competition movement — you’re getting strong for real! It’s like a bulletproof position with a muscle shield surrounding you. As long as nothing falls, you will move forward.

On the other hand, if you’re not depending on an arch in your sport, if would be stupid to train in the arching position because getting stronger in the arched position will give you weaker spots in your neutral position. Take a boxer, for instance: If he arches under the fight, he gets a shorter striking area and it’s easier to get punched out himself. A baseball pitcher is probably making bigger progress if he skips the arch when he’s getting stronger in his bench press. A javelin thrower who throws his spear with an arch in his upper body could probably train successfully with an arch in his bench press. It’s all about which qualities you need to get better at to be better at your sport!

The pictures below come from Boris Sheiko and are used with his permission. The first picture shows an athlete relaxing while getting help with bigger mobility. In the next picture, he tries to fix the same position on his own with his hand pushing him up. The last picture shows how he uses his posterior chain to lift up his arch, even if it’s in a reversed position. Every muscle in the arching position has to be strong and build the shield around you!

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If you liked the article and want to give more input or have questions, please tag me on Instagram @seminoff. Thank you for reading!

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