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I know several power lifters and they all arch while lifting. On my journey to increase strength and power for practical, every day use, these friends have been encouraging me to adopt the arch style of lifting to increase the amount of weight I'm able to lift.

My question is, nothing i do in normal life ever is from a position of arching my back. Is there a practical reason to adopt the arch if I will never be a power lifter?

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  • Is this specifically for bench pressing or is there another arch you're referring to?
    – DeeV
    Commented Oct 20, 2022 at 18:02
  • Bench Press, I am unaware of any other lift where arching is done. I'll admit, I don't know much about power lifting.
    – Bri Han
    Commented Oct 20, 2022 at 18:03

1 Answer 1

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Arching on the bench press creates a favorable position for the shoulders.

The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the entire body. Benching with a flat back allows the whole shoulder joint to move freely during the bench press, which can excessively stress the connective tissues of the shoulder joint. That's what arching fixes: thoracic extension allows you to squeeze your scapulae together and pin your shoulders to the bench, immobilizing the shoulder joint. An arch on bench allows you to lift more weight for the same reason it is safer for your shoulders. You have a stable base, and instead of having to use your chest and shoulder muscles to keep your arms in their sockets, you use your upper back to leverage your shoulders into the bench, and your chest and shoulder muscles can work to move the bar, instead of working to keep your connective tissues from tearing.

That said, you do not have to use the acrobatic levels of arch often seen in the lower weight classes of competitive powerlifting. Enough arch to effectively pin your shoulders down is sufficient, which isn’t much arch at all.

In my own training, I do one session a week with maximal arch, using the heaviest weights. On the other days, I do lower weight variations with narrower grip and longer ranges of motion, such as close grip bench with bands and feet-up-flat-back bench.

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    Thanks Thomas, do you have a link to an article or anything to support this?
    – Bri Han
    Commented Oct 20, 2022 at 19:20
  • Thank you for this!
    – Bri Han
    Commented Oct 20, 2022 at 19:25
  • This does not make much sense to me as written. You do not stabilise the shoulder joint as such by pinning your shoulder blades. You fixate your shoulder girdle (joints) and, thereby, the proximal half of the shoulder joint proper, yes, but that does not reduce the ROM of the shoulder joint as such. As your linked articles point out, this is mainly about limiting the range of motion (more optimal muscle length at the start) by having your sternum lifted and the shoulder girdle retracted, as well as the minor pecs being more engaged. What you write sounds like a bad nocebo. Commented Dec 31, 2023 at 14:17
  • @PhilipKlöcking The idea is that scapular retraction reduces the degrees of freedom of the shoulder girdle. But I can adjust the language a bit.
    – Thomas Markov
    Commented Dec 31, 2023 at 14:50

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