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How dangerous is arching your back while doing a bench press? I've seen tons of guys in the gym who greatly arch their back off the bench, assumedly to assist with the lift. Is this bad, or just an alternate form?

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I don't truly know if or why is dangerous. But if you need to arch to lift that much weight, maybe you will be better off doing less weight and focus on compressing your muscles and a good lift. –  Nuno Freitas Oct 25 '12 at 11:12
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Arching your back is the correct way to bench press as long as your butt and shoulders are on the seat (and your feet flat on the ground). –  Mike S Oct 29 '12 at 23:31
    
@MikeS: I had a personal trainer tell me once to try & keep the back on the bench & contract my abs as I lift. Now I wonder what is proper? –  KO. Dec 23 '12 at 2:40
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Be careful placing PT's word as gospel. Most PTs have done a 10 week course (or less) and virtually know nothing). Focusing on a contraction of the torso (abs) would possibly bring the head up (which is the number one no-no) as you strain to push out that last rep. You should definitely keep your shoulders and butt on the bench. –  Mike S Dec 23 '12 at 4:47
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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Here's a link to Ripptone explaining how much to arch the back: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=lBNeeeTId1M

Some people have a 'big' arch, this is the person using the legs/hips to drive the bar, usually intended to push heavy weight. So, neither is wrong, it depends on what your goal is: building strength or building ego by moving heavy weight. (butt and shoulders should be touching)

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