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 • 887

  • Julian Burden
    Julian Burden  4 weeks back

    dam dude I love this channel so much I am a new personal trainer at UIC and this channel ive been taking notes on ALL semester!! if there are any updates you have heard about arching the back during bench press can you please make another video about cause this was incredibly helpful I seriously thought arching was just bad for your spine it seems to put at lot of stress and flexion on the spine but, shit your word is bond! hahah thank you for everything sir and thank you for being you!

    • Reaper 06
      Reaper 06  4 weeks back

      I don’t mean to arch my back

      • FromBeToReality
        FromBeToReality  1 months back

        THUMBS UP!!!!
        then watch.

        i saw this female in the gym crazy arching her back under heavy weight. i've been avoiding any arch. thought it would f up my lower back.

        as for him saying he doesn't have the best looking chest, pluh-ease!!!! looks yummy to me. bet his wife ain't complaining!!

        • Jesus F. Aguilar
          Jesus F. Aguilar  1 months back

          Hey Jeff,
          I’ve plateaued around 155lb on bench for about 3 years. I’m now been benching 205lb for 5x5 due to me implementing the arch. I have 3 months getting to where I’m currently at but just last week I’ve had pains from my upper chest to like shoulder blade area. I can barely do 20 pushups w/out pain. Could it be that I’ve been overusing the arch? I use that everytime I bench. I hope to hear back from you my guy! As always, I appreciate your anatomy based videos!

          • Andrew Borowski
            Andrew Borowski  2 months back

            Or just do decline bench... 🤷🏽‍♂️

            • Madara Uchiha
              Madara Uchiha  2 months back

              I loathe the arching and butt lifting while benching greatly. I’ve seen so many people bench like that and it irks me every time I see it. I strongly believe in your back and butt being FLAT on the bench while pressing. Always have and always will.

              Sad thing is that a lot of people that arch their backs and lift their butt up while pressing don’t even get called out for it either most of the time🤦‍♂️...

              • Zetsuke4
                Zetsuke4  2 months back

                Good explanation

                • Welco
                  Welco  3 months back

                  Had a friend who arched in high school, guy is in a wheelchair now

                • Emir B
                  Emir B  4 months back

                  Personal note: arched back @ 3:05

                  • Sauce Boss
                    Sauce Boss  4 months back

                    Or you know you can do incline bench press and save your back

                    • Yunshan Luo
                      Yunshan Luo  4 months back

                      Where is the leg drive

                      • Constantinos Spartiatis
                        Constantinos Spartiatis  4 months back

                        Is hanging from a bar a good idea, after each set?

                      • Danny
                        Danny  5 months back

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

                        • eternity cosplay
                          eternity cosplay  5 months 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  5 months back

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

                            • Quax
                              Quax  6 months 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  6 months 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  6 months back

                                  What if ur bench is abit curve?

                                  • Corina
                                    Corina  6 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  7 months back

                                      Great as usual.

                                      • WAYNES DOMAIN
                                        WAYNES DOMAIN  7 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  9 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  9 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  9 months back

                                              Sion thanks for the support!

                                            • Sion
                                              Sion  9 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  9 months back

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

                                            • Sion
                                              Sion  9 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  9 months back

                                              Sion nice how old are you?

                                          • Barbell Binks
                                            Barbell Binks  10 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  10 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  10 months back

                                                Thanks Jeff for sharing such valuable information

                                                • Facts aren't racist
                                                  Facts aren't racist  10 months back

                                                  excessive arch is stupid

                                                  • Stephen Giles
                                                    Stephen Giles  11 months back

                                                    It all depends upon our anatomy! Nuf said

                                                    • B Vicente
                                                      B Vicente  11 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  11 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  10 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  11 months back


                                                        • William Chase
                                                          William Chase  11 months back

                                                          Arched back to engage lats

                                                          • Brandon Hart
                                                            Brandon Hart  11 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  11 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  11 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  11 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  11 months back

                                                                    Is that a mustache?!?!?!

                                                                    • GAINZ
                                                                      GAINZ  11 months back

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

                                                                      • Coach 1092
                                                                        Coach 1092  11 months back

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

                                                                        • JASON ROMANO
                                                                          JASON ROMANO  11 months back

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

                                                                          • Fresh M3
                                                                            Fresh M3  12 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  12 months back

                                                                              Does this apply to a dumbbell press too?

                                                                              • King Quan Gaming
                                                                                King Quan Gaming  12 months back

                                                                                I only arch when I hit failure.

                                                                                • Kyle Jividen
                                                                                  Kyle Jividen  12 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  12 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  12 months back

                                                                                      Your cheating with your lower back

                                                                                      • Syed Ghouse
                                                                                        Syed Ghouse  12 months back

                                                                                        Your answer is *Yes*

                                                                                        • Lance Johnson
                                                                                          Lance Johnson  12 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.