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FOF… Bench Press Edition

May 20, 2011
Don’t be a clown – Arch your back for power!

Been talking a lot of bench press lately, and so I thought I’d address it here.  I’ve totally revamped my form, and have seen great improvements in my bench press numbers, but more importantly, my shoulder health and strength.  If you take the advice I lay out here, you too could be reaping these benefits!

The underlying premise of all the powerlifts (and lifting in general) is that you MUST have a strong, tight base (get your mind out of the gutter) in order to move big weight safely.  Simple things, like arching your back and flexing your traps can mean the difference between benching 250 and benching 300.

Say this with me class: an arched, tight back is a position of power, a flat back is a position of weakness.

When I was in college and High School, I took my terrible flat-backed bench press style as a badge of honor – I thought I was better than the powerlifters who used an arched back and proper form.  “They’re range of motion isn’t half of mine!”  Now, after hurting my shoulder repeatedly going for a “greater range of motion” and “not cheating”, I never really got any stronger at the bench – till now.

In addition to giving you a proper platform to push from, the arch + tight traps style of benching limits the amount of rotational force put on your shoulder.  Put succinctly, this style is the ONLY safe, long term way to bench.  Much like those who claim incorrectly that a “Squat is dangerous” are typically using the wrong form and improper loads, bench press can be one of the most injury-prone lifts for the aspiring Primal Bodybuilder.

SO… enough talk, how do we do it right?  Well, you can head over to’s “SoYou Think You can Bench” series and learn from the best, or you can skip to the best parts watching the videos here.

First, pay attention as Dave Tate outlines the 5 Biggest Mistakes you can make while bench pressing.  Pay special attention when he talks about letting the weight “settle”.  This helps you to get into the proper form, locking everything into place, similar to the time you spend as you walk out a squat.

Start this next video (from the SYTYCB series) below at 3:21 for Dave Tate outlining the Bench Press “Setup”, something that very few of you are doing.

In summary: Benching with an arch puts your body in the position it was always meant to be in.  You would never Squat or Deadlift with a flat back, so why would you Bench Press with one?

Allow me to repeat myself: an arched, tight back is a position of power, a flat back is a position of weakness.

Since we never want to be weak, we NEVER want a flat back, it’s that simple.

Party on dudes!

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 17, 2013 7:19 pm

    Great blogpost! Keep them coming about training! Dave Tate is awesome.

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