Help - I’m a powerlifter and I want to get my arch for bench bigger. How can I do this?
Many lifters set up in an arched position, which is great, but rarely do I see them actually work on trying to increase the arch. The higher you can get your arch, the shorter the range of motion and the more benefits you can derive from it. A bigger arch also allows for a much easier position to help tuck the shoulder blades down and together, which puts your shoulders in a much safer position and helps ward off injuries. Why wouldn't you want to decrease the distance of a movement and put your body in a safer, stronger position?
So how do you increase your bench press arch?
There are a couple of ways this can be done. Some lifters just keep trying to arch more in each training session. I don't consider this a good plan because it's similar to lifters who stretch by squatting and think that eventually they'll be flexible enough to get in the correct position. Yes, it works eventually...sometimes...but there's a better way to go about it.
Others I see stick a roller under their lower/mid back and try to arch over it and not allow your body to touch and eventually get the arch bigger and bigger. Now I have seen some benchers create beautiful arches this way. But is this the best way? No, it’s a helpful tool when you combine it with others things. Otherwise you get too reliant on an object- so yes you’ll have flexibility but the stability no- so when the weight goes into your hands it’ll collapse.
So what would I recommend?.....
Could you guess something else? I mean it’s me of course, this is going to relate to mobility.
There are 2 different types of flexibility.
Passive and Active.
When our passive range of motion is far greater than our active this is where injuries can occur.
Think of passive as just doing nothing in the stretch- just chilling.
Now think of Active flexibility as you are doing something in the stretch or mobility exercise you are working and activating the muscles in order to get them work.
Here are a few mobility drills that I would recommend to help increase the flexibility and stability of your upper back which will not only help your arch but your spinal and shoulder health in general. Especially if you are working at a laptop all day 💪
Thread the needles on all fours.
Puppy pose on a chair, arms straight- stretching out the shoulders. On all 4’s. Knees underneath hips. Shoulders towards your ears and armpits facing the floor.
Downward dog and dolphin pose.
Prone Scorpion - lying on your front with your arms out to the side and palms down. Taking the opposite leg over the other-side of the body.
Four point bear crawl to reverse plank. (DJ’s )
Lying over a roller and extending outwards and backwards with arms overhead. Keeping butt on the floor.
Sphynx or Cobra Pose- do this actively and carefully. Do NOT just push back into cobra- slowly curl up the spine working each part of the back to curl upwards.
I would also recommend rolling out and mobilising the T-spine area and front of the shoulders to allow this to happen.
If you are wondering how to do these stretches then why not join my Sunday Stretch classes! Each week we focus on a different lift or element.