Bench Press Form (ARCH OR NO ARCH?)

  • Published: 10 May 2015
  • Improve your results from every workout using the form of the pros here

    If you want to bench more weight you have to start with the correct bench press form. In this video, I review one of the more controversial bench pressing techniques to see whether or not it is something you should do or not do the next time you train your chest.

    When performing the bench press, it is common to see people arch their back to complete the lift. Most of the time, this type of form is used by powerlifters during meets and training. The advantage in this scenario is that it helps the lifter to shorten the effective distance that the bar must travel while still staying within the rules of keeping your back and butt on the bench at all times.

    That said, there is another huge benefit to the lower back arch that can help you to start increasing your bench press in even your very next set. Based on the anatomy of the chest fibers, it becomes readily apparent that the majority of the muscle belly is located further down your rib cage, with the fibers angled up towards their attachment on your humerus. If you have a naturally shallow or flat chest, these fibers are not situated in a mechanically strong position and need some extra leverage to be able to exert their maximum force. Enter the arched back bench press form.

    If you arch your back in your form during the bench press, you are temporarily creating a steeper angle on the rib cage that helps to put the bulk of your pecs at a greater mechanical advantage to contribute to the lift. This often times helps people see an immediate 20% increase in their strength of their bench press.

    If you feel as if you have a flatter chest, be sure to give this bench press tip a try. You should feel much stronger and be able to improve your performance on the lift instantly. If you continue to use this from workout to workout, you should definitely notice an increase in pec size and get a bigger chest in no time.

    Be careful not to arch your back too much during the lift however as this can place an undue stress on your lumbar spine. Overextension of the lumbar vertebra is not common during the lift but can be done if someone becomes too zealous in attempting to use this bench press technique.

    For a complete workout program that helps you to get the most out of your own anatomy, be sure to head to and put the science back in your strength by grabbing the ATHLEAN-X Training System.

    For more videos on how to bench press with proper form and how to increase your bench for a bigger upper chest, be sure to subscribe to our channel here on RUclip at
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Comments • 875

  • Danny
    Danny  6 days back

    The benches at my gym are too thin so I cant even bench properly...

    • eternity cosplay
      eternity cosplay  2 weeks back

      EVEN IF I DON't arch ... my body arch ... i can't remove the arch and then my midle back get sore ..

      • dan 84
        dan 84  3 weeks back

        I get middle back spasms and cramp when bench pressing even on the bench machine

        • Quax
          Quax  3 weeks back

          3:58 "Is it a good thing? Or a bad thing? It's a you thing!" I love that lol

          • TEXAS DEVIL 2024
            TEXAS DEVIL 2024  4 weeks back

            IV TRY THIS TYPE OF WAY OF BENCH PRESSING AND IT DOES HELP YOU PICK UP MORE HEAVY WEIGHTS.. BUT FOR SOME REASON MY BACK AND BACK SHOULDER MUSCLE HURT A LOT MORE.. and not the sore kinda hurt more like you hurt something.. I was wondering if this had happened to anyone else.. I’m doing them correctly cause iv had a gym instructor show me how to do it and has also stood there while I bench press so I no I’m doing it right.. but this type of way hurts me why.. maybe you no some thing more I’m doing wrong .. I have a wide back if that helps any??? Seeking advice from any weight lifter 🏋️‍♀️

            • Imran Farid
              Imran Farid  1 months back

              What if ur bench is abit curve?

              • Corina
                Corina  2 months back

                Just came from the Amanda Lawrence video. I had never seen the arch back method before and wanted to learn more about it

                • Jason Huff
                  Jason Huff  2 months back

                  Great as usual.

                  • WAYNES DOMAIN
                    WAYNES DOMAIN  3 months back

                    Young man , I will say U connect well with me & probably 90%+ , with others who tune U in... Keep it up !!! Blessings ,,, WAYNE'S DOMAIN

                    • Fernando Lessa
                      Fernando Lessa  4 months back

                      I always had shoulder pain when doing bench presses, here in brazil trainers are robotic : YOU SHALL KEEP ALWAYS YOUR BACK STRAIGHT 90º ANGLE ( as if our back is perfectly 90º right? ) so I decided to arch my back when doing bench presses and also puting my feets on the ground not in the support of that 'bed', the result is, when i let my shoulder way back from my chest, when i grow my chest and let my shoulders back (the arched back helps here) I FEEL NO PAIN AT THE SHOULDERS, i can overload the weight, and i don't feel pain from doing that at my lower back. Ps i do it carefully, arch just a bit! not flat back anymore no pain anymore in my shoulders! and i saw better results from bench presses!

                      • Sion
                        Sion  4 months back

                        my bench is to high to put my feet down so i cant make an arch. always pressed with an flat back.
                        i do press my own bodyweight of 75 kg with a flat back.

                        • JJ v97
                          JJ v97  4 months back

                          Sion thanks for the support!

                        • Sion
                          Sion  4 months back

                          @JJ v97 nothing better than a home gym!
                          have one my self. cant stand fitness studios. just keep training, eat properly and get some decent sleep and you are going to get there!

                        • JJ v97
                          JJ v97  4 months back

                          Sion I train at a home gym but I am still pretty young/weak lol

                        • Sion
                          Sion  4 months back

                          @JJ v97 well thanks, i am 32. nice not being cursed at ^^
                          got a similar problem or do you train in a gym?

                        • JJ v97
                          JJ v97  4 months back

                          Sion nice how old are you?

                      • Barbell Binks
                        Barbell Binks  5 months back

                        I didn't see any lumbar extension there... really only saw thoracic extension. Lumbar extension further aids in bench press mechanics by providing a stable base that can support leg drive

                        • Jean Michel
                          Jean Michel  5 months back

                          A good rule of thumb is that you can increase the arch as long as you keep your feet on the ground and your abs tight

                          • Vipin N V
                            Vipin N V  5 months back

                            Thanks Jeff for sharing such valuable information

                            • Facts aren't racist
                              Facts aren't racist  5 months back

                              excessive arch is stupid

                              • Stephen Giles
                                Stephen Giles  6 months back

                                It all depends upon our anatomy! Nuf said

                                • B Vicente
                                  B Vicente  6 months back

                                  Thanks. Excellent video My trainer is an advocate of arching the back. Others say you shouldn't. This vid provided rationale. Thanks!!

                                  • dragomxsoldier
                                    dragomxsoldier  6 months back

                                    Unfortunately my chest didn't form Right after puberty, Its like a roster or pigeon chest so basically no mater what my chest won't be looking like his

                                    Sad really

                                    • infectionsman
                                      infectionsman  5 months back

                                      You need lots of meat and replace carbs with animal fats. And quality reps. It will help the muscle grow.

                                  • John Esteves
                                    John Esteves  6 months back


                                    • William Chase
                                      William Chase  6 months back

                                      Arched back to engage lats

                                      • Brandon Hart
                                        Brandon Hart  6 months back

                                        I think feet on the ground and butt on the bench should be the first focus retraction of the scapulas when you get stronger.

                                        • Brandon Hart
                                          Brandon Hart  6 months back

                                          I’ve heard it from both ways that you get a bigger chest the more arch you have or you get bigger from being flat. With me from my experience when I arch and contract my back I’m so focused on doing that it makes me less focused on the push

                                          • Derrick Hess
                                            Derrick Hess  6 months back

                                            Jeff I’ve followed your channel for years, and I’ve come to a point where I really need advice. I am a powerlifter, I’m actually top 5 in my state right now. A lot of people are trying to get me to arch, and I’m not terrible at it but I’m very worried about my body. I’ve always had a slight arch, but never as extreme as I’ve been doing. Of course I want to push up heavy weight; but no trophy or medal is good enough to screw up my back to the point of not being able to deadlift anymore. I know you’re busy, I’m not sure if you’ll see this, but states in 3 weeks and I’ve been doing new techniques such as boards and arching, all in all I want to make sure what I’m doing is safe and if there’s anyone’s option I trust it’s yours. Thank you so much!

                                            • Mark Oliver
                                              Mark Oliver  6 months back

                                              Thanks for this, Jeff! I’m someone who has a “flat chest“ as well as some lower back sensitivity. What about putting something under my back to help me support the extension? If that makes sense, is there anything you’d recommend? Thanks!

                                              • Brandon Spell
                                                Brandon Spell  7 months back

                                                Is that a mustache?!?!?!

                                                • GAINZ
                                                  GAINZ  7 months back

                                                  love that after this long i still find videos of yours that i haven't seen

                                                  • Coach 1092
                                                    Coach 1092  7 months back

                                                    Some back extension training is good. We train so much trunk flexion.

                                                    • Osiedlony
                                                      Osiedlony  7 months back

                                                      Isn't it the same as pressing at bench, which is lower - where your head lies and higher where your butt is? (So, not horizontal but inclined).

                                                      • JASON ROMANO
                                                        JASON ROMANO  7 months back

                                                        I hard buy arching your back you can curb your ribs out words

                                                        • Fresh M3
                                                          Fresh M3  7 months back

                                                          Anyone ever go back and watch these older videos? Makes me think he snuck out of the huge new gym into his old basement to record on his iphone 3.

                                                          • Michael Iannella
                                                            Michael Iannella  7 months back

                                                            Does this apply to a dumbbell press too?

                                                            • King Quan Gaming
                                                              King Quan Gaming  7 months back

                                                              I only arch when I hit failure.

                                                              • Kyle Jividen
                                                                Kyle Jividen  7 months back

                                                                I feel like this contradicts the good form you're looking for.... Because arching your back is gonna contribute to a anterior pelvic tilt

                                                                • Grundy Malone
                                                                  Grundy Malone  7 months back

                                                                  I never arch my back, I consider it cheating. It can save you from injury if you do very heavy weights and fail but you should not be doing weights that heavy even in power lifting, it's just beyond your limit. It also works your lower chest more which virtually no one on earth actually needs. I was doing 385 flat but these days I just do 275 max and just do more sets/reps. Could probably have done 425 with some arch but it just seems like when you arch it's cheating because the main advantage is you can wiggle around and work more parts of the chest, so you are not actually stronger by doing this. or BECOME stronger by doing it, if anything it makes it even harder to do it with your back flat

                                                                  • Nate the body builder
                                                                    Nate the body builder  7 months back

                                                                    Your cheating with your lower back

                                                                    • Syed Ghouse
                                                                      Syed Ghouse  7 months back

                                                                      Your answer is *Yes*

                                                                      • Lance Johnson
                                                                        Lance Johnson  7 months back

                                                                        You mention the arch in the back and talk about the shoulders but you don’t mention packing. Since I tightened my glutes and packed my shoulders it’s been a game changer.

                                                                        • Shrinidhi Hosamane
                                                                          Shrinidhi Hosamane  7 months back

                                                                          Declined bench press instead of arching would do almost same?

                                                                          • Carlos Galindo
                                                                            Carlos Galindo  7 months back

                                                                            Very interesting input. Good job Jeff

                                                                            • Jeff Lardizabal
                                                                              Jeff Lardizabal  7 months back

                                                                              Jeff with a shirt on??? WHAT!!! I love my dad's rule on chest size development - the bigger the belly you have, the more time you need to spend on chest size development LOL!!!

                                                                              • Smashplayer 01
                                                                                Smashplayer 01  7 months back

                                                                                Hey man just want to say Im a big fan of your videos lifting has really changed my life been thanks for all your help!

                                                                                • Kiritsugu
                                                                                  Kiritsugu  7 months back

                                                                                  But is it good or bad for the lumbar spine?

                                                                                  • intelligence wisdom
                                                                                    intelligence wisdom  7 months back

                                                                                    He said to not touch chest before. So which is it?

                                                                                    • Jardean Hinchliffe
                                                                                      Jardean Hinchliffe  8 months back

                                                                                      What about for athletes ?

                                                                                      • Tehanu Reaver
                                                                                        Tehanu Reaver  8 months back

                                                                                        Why not use a decline bench press instead ?

                                                                                        • Sachin Bhalla
                                                                                          Sachin Bhalla  7 months back

                                                                                          You can but the flat bench press puts more stress on the mid chest rather than the lower chest so you can move more weight. And also it's not a big arch it's a very small so in the flat one you're not putting as much pressure on the lower chest than in the decline

                                                                                      • Zach Nieman
                                                                                        Zach Nieman  8 months back

                                                                                        Basically what I’ve learned from this is just do decline bench press and skip flat bench because ultimately your back will be set up like a decline to begin with

                                                                                        • Killian Defaoite
                                                                                          Killian Defaoite  8 months back

                                                                                          As someone with a relatively full chest for my size, is there any benefit for doing some of my bench press workouts with my back completely flat as well as with the arch that I always use? Thanks.

                                                                                          • Mark Stephenson
                                                                                            Mark Stephenson  8 months back

                                                                                            You don't do unhelpful videos.