Ask Erin: what about the back in the bench?

Regarding the Bench Press, and,

by extension, the FLOOR PRESS!

Hey Erin!
Hope you are doing well!  I was benching the way I was taught at CFCC at a different gym (feet on ground, back arched, shoulder blades back and down) and the coach there told me I was doing it completely wrong and that my back had to be flat. 
I remember that you guys were pretty strict about this form.  When he asked me why arching my back would be better I didn’t really know what to tell him.  So I figured I would ask you why you teach it that way and not to keep your back flat.  (I just wanted to know so I have something to say back to him).  I personally like doing it the way I was taught in center city but I guess I should investigate WHY I would do something a certain way.  Hope that all made sense.  


Take care,


Dear, R.
The short answer is, because leaving your back down causes lordosis (the camel part of cat/camel) in the lumbar spine which is not the strongest position for your lower back to be in when it is bearing a load at all – LET ALONE, a load that you are bearing with your arms alone.  Keeping your back down also makes it pretty tough to keep your thoracic spine arched and shoulder blades “back and down” – a CRUCIAL part of benching safely for the shoulders.  We’d even go so far as to say that even your cervical spine shouldn’t be “rounded” – a lot of people like to lift their heads OFF the bench and/or look down while they push – don’t do it!  It’s an un-strong position (just like un-strong is an un-word).

But, in case he doesn’t believe you ;)

This guys weighs 185lbs. and trains pro baseball players all over the country.  He benches 350lbs. exactly like you would 95lbs.
 This is ridiculous, but you’ll see – this dude has his butt ALL the way up.  And I’d HATE to imagine what would happen if it wasn’t.
You’ll see in this video, that basically one of the men who creates the strongest men in the world (at the bench anyway) teaches it EXACTLY the same way.
After all this, I’d expect you to be benchin’ big numbers :)  Let me know how it goes!
2 Responses to “Ask Erin: what about the back in the bench?”
  1. Mike McKenna says:

    Erin, I hesitated to read this article, but I’m glad you speak the truth about the bench. As a former big bencher, the only sensible position is feet wide and flat, back arched, last engaged, and pulling the bar down to the sternum. Flat backs cause injury, just like flat asses mean no personality.

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