The Arch for the Bench Press

Matts

Level 3 Valued Member
@Anna C I don't think you need any "purposeful" longintudinal arching. The lateral arch is a good thing, as is learning to flare your lats and push off them, with the elbows a little more in. Think of pushing against your own tight back muscles rather than off the bench. I'd also scoot a little further up on the bench so the bar's closer to starting position.

Trajectory is a complex thing because we feel one thing, while another thing may happen. Anna's smart to do the video, others use coaching. For me, I "feel" like I'm pushing the bar on a short incline up towards my knees to get an objectively pretty straight lift (I'm more tri-based than some). Different people experience it differently, so it's good to sync your subjective experience with objective through video or coaching.

Anna, you'll get your test just fine if you stay with the basics and remain consistent with smart program. You've done remarkably well with everything else by doing that, and this will be no exception!
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
Think of pushing against your own tight back muscles rather than off the bench. I'd also scoot a little further up on the bench so the bar's closer to starting position.
Good visualization and good tip, thanks!

Anna, you'll get your test just fine if you stay with the basics and remain consistent with smart program.
I agree, and in fact I have a VERY smart program to follow... a custom Plan Strong program for the Bench Press. I am just finishing week 2 of an 8-week plan. I love it so far, and I'm excited to see where I am in another 6-7 weeks.
 

MikeTheBear

Level 7 Valued Member
"If you want to lift the most weight, you use gear. And if you want to be strong, you want to lift the most weight. Therefore, if you want to be strongest, you use gear." And I don't argue with any of that.
Really, you don't argue with this? I think it's overly simplistic crap. I will respond with the following video. Yes, I realized it is highly biased against the geared powerlifters. It also features two very extreme examples. Apparently the federation that the PLers are in was created by Louie Simmons to conform to the Westside style of squatting. In any other federation those lifts (I can't bring myself to call them "squats") would have been red-lighted for depth. But I want you to view the video and answer the following question as honestly as you can: If you wanted to get very strong in the squat simply to develop a general based of strength, would you put on a suit and squat like the PLers or would you squat like the Olympic lifters?

 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Really, you don't argue with this? I think it's overly simplistic crap.
Mike, that I don't argue with it doesn't mean I agree with it or that I intend to apply it to myself. I am out there without even a belt, let's remember, and am often the only person in the Raw Division of the meets I attend who chooses to be quite that raw. :) (And let's also remember that in about 48 hours, I will be deadlifting raw, without a belt, in a public meet, for the record, and trying to get close to the record of a person who, I'm pretty sure, did wear a belt when he set it.)

But I don't fault geared lifters - it's a choice, and they _do_ lift more weight than I do. If someone's deadlift maxes at 500 lbs., and you put a belt on them, they're not going to all of a sudden lift 600 lbs., but if they train with the belt regularly, they just might add that 100 lbs. to their deadlift. If you want to argue that they were stronger when their max was 500 lbs. than when it's 600 lbs., go ahead. :) When I say I'm not going to argue, I mean that I don't think it's a simple argument to have and I choose not to have it. There is definitely something to be said for putting on the belt and lifting the extra 100 lbs. Stronger legs, stronger grip - lots of good things happening there to body parts and systems that the belt doesn't touch.

How did we get to _me_ defending geared lifters, I'd like to know!

-S-
 

Antti

Level 9 Valued Member
Does the belt really help in the deadlift? I've never felt like I needed one. Maybe I should try one sometimes. After all, I'm comparing my own results to those mostly made with a belt.
 

MikeTheBear

Level 7 Valued Member
Steve, let's back up here because the Internets has caused some miscommunication.

First, as I said, live and let live. If someone does something that makes them happy and doesn't hurt anyone else, great. One of the best justifications I've read for wearing gear was that when this person was done putting on their squat suit, knee wraps, and belt, he felt like he was wearing a suit of armor and felt invincible. Great! This is what hobbies are about - to have fun, feel good, and escape from the daily grind.

The problem I have is when lifters who wear massive support gear start saying that their way of training is the best and only they know how to make people strong. This is problematic because what works for the geared lifter will not necessarily work for the raw lifter.

If you want to argue that they were stronger when their max was 500 lbs. than when it's 600 lbs., go ahead.
Yes I will argue this. Lifting in gear doesn't make you stronger - it allows you to lift more weight. There is a difference. I get your point that wearing some gear, such as a belt, that can support a weaker body part can be beneficial as it will allow more weight to be lifted and make the other body parts stronger. I've done this myself. When I do barbell clean and jerks and barbell front squats I wear wrist wraps. This allows me to lift more weight and hence strengthens the muscles that are the prime movers in these lifts. But then again, C&Js and front squats are not wrist exercises so I'm not short-changing myself by making my wrists artificially stronger with wrist wraps. The same can't be said for a squat suit or bench shirt which allow the legs to be artificially stronger in the bottom position of these lifts.

Let's go back to the video. If the person who squatted 600 used the technique that the PLers used in the video - which can best be described as a sumo deadlift with the bar on the back - but the person who squatted 500 used the full Olympic squat, I would not have a problem arguing that the Olympic squatter was stronger. I would also not have a problem telling someone who wanted to get stronger for a sport other than PL to use the Olympic squat as their training lift.

Interestingly, Dan Green, who is an elite level raw powerlifter, supposedly uses a lot of high-bar squats and even front squats in his training, even though his competition lift is the low-bar squat.

As for the federation, I'm not sure which one it is. I tried scrolling through the comments to see if someone knew but no luck. Dimas hanging his head at the end was classic.
 

MikeTheBear

Level 7 Valued Member
Kenny,

Thanks. Do you have a guess as to what organization would allow squats that high? Those weren't close to parallel. The last guy who did 1,210 moved like 6 inches. I get that 1,210 is a crap load of weight, but still.
 

william bad butt

Level 6 Valued Member
I would bet that most geared lifters primarily train raw to get stronger. And practice with gear a few weeks before their competition.

They practice with the gear to develop/improve their technique. But they still have to develop strength like any other athlete by doing raw squats, etc...
 

kennycro@@aol.com

Level 6 Valued Member
Kenny,

Thanks. Do you have a guess as to what organization would allow squats that high? Those weren't close to parallel. The last guy who did 1,210 moved like 6 inches. I get that 1,210 is a crap load of weight, but still.
Mike,

The majority of Powerlifting Organizations do not allow high Squats. The Squat rule is basically the same for all organizations. The crease at the hip must be below the top of the knee for it to be a good Squat.

High Squats, as well as Bench Presses and Deadlifts that should not pass usually occur at local meet; not at national meet in a Powerlifting Organization.

The Local Meet Issue

It's hard to get well qualified Referee's at local meet, especially large meets.

Referee's work on a voluntary basis. They are not paid for the majority of local meets. They usually pay their own way.

I spent 3 years as a National Referee and 7 years as International Referee. I paid my way to Local, National, and two World Championships.

I along with two other International Referees had our expenses paid to an International Championship.

What you often end up with are less experience Referees that are on the "Earn while you learn program".

These Referees are usually State Referees, the entry level. Sometimes, you aren't even able to get Certified Referees. You end up sometime just getting a warm body at local meets.

Houston YMCA Meet Example

Years ago, I was Meet Director for the Houston YMCA Meet.

All the Referees were volunteers. One year, I was able to recruit experienced Certified Referees.

The following year, I end up having just find warm bodies.

National, World and International Championships

International Referees with years of experience show up for these meets; with some National Referees being allowed to judge on everything but World Record Attempts, which require an International Referee.

A Jury Panel of Referees is set up at National, World and International Meets. The Jury Panel "Judges the Referees". The Panel can overturn the three seated Referees decision.

The Jury Panel has the power to remove a Referee on the lifting platform. The Jury can reprimand Referees for their calls; that precedes the removal of the Referee.

The scrutiny at these meets is intense.

As A Former International Referee

I was warned by the Jury Panel at the National Women Powerlifting Championships for allowing high Squat to pass.

I disagreed with the Jury. My Side Referee angle was complete different from their's.

Ironically, after finishing my Refereeing of that Squat flight, I went down to watch the Bench Press flight.

I was then confronted by some individual in the audience for making lifter have to Squat so low before it I'd give them a White Light. One guy claimed that they had to "Squat to China" before I'd give them a White Light.

At Bill Bradley's (132 lb lifter) World Record 650 lb Squat, I was the only Referee to give him a Red Light. It was just a little high from my Side Referee position.

His coach, Randy Wilson wanted to know why I gave him a Red Light. As per Randy, he buried it; he didn't.

"The last guy who did 1,210 moved like 6 inches."

With out seeing it or having more details on it, I can't comment on it.

This takes up back to your original question,

"...What organization would allow squats that high?"

None that I know.

Poor calls are made and missed in all sports. Instant recalls in the NFL Football have demonstrated that.

Some poor calls are apparent; other not.

Kenny Croxdale
 
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MikeTheBear

Level 7 Valued Member
I would bet that most geared lifters primarily train raw to get stronger. And practice with gear a few weeks before their competition.

They practice with the gear to develop/improve their technique. But they still have to develop strength like any other athlete by doing raw squats, etc...
Yes they do, but even when they train without the gear their training is slanted towards the fact that they will be wearing gear in competition. For instance, the Westside guys do lots of board presses for the bench to strengthen the lockout. Board presses may not be appropriate for raw lifters who are generally weak off the chest.

Again, my point was not to criticize geared lifters. My point was that raw lifters should not necessarily follow the training advice of geared lifters as the gear makes the lift different and geared lifters train to maximize the benefit from the gear.
 

william bad butt

Level 6 Valued Member
Well since you quoted me, I'll respond.

Board presses may be appropriate for raw lifters who are weaker above the chest. I'm a raw bench presser who uses 1 and 2 board bench presses as an accessory because they help my weak spot which is a couple inches above my chest. But in general, I understand your point.

I also train partial movements and use reverse bands. I'm a big believer in progressive overload training. For example, walking out a squat with 50 or 100 lbs greater than my maximum squat does build strength and confidence. Or using bands to get the body used to heavy weights is a very effective strategy (even though it is making the lift easier at full range of motion).

I've learned most of these things from a very successful geared lifter who has a 800 lb raw squat and a 950 lb geared squat in competition. Very rarely would a geared lifter start training in gear. Most of these people would start raw and then progress to gear (I'm not saying that gear is above raw, just that one needs to develop raw strength first).

My point is that a raw lifter can consider the training advice of a geared lifter.
 

Bill Been

Level 6 Valued Member
Anna, I don't want to weigh in on your choice of bar paths, but I'm pleading with you to take a couple bench press safety rules to heart:
1) Use safeties. Adjust the safeties so the bar can float over your throat.
2) Do NOT use clips on the plates. If everything goes wrong, you gotta be able tilt the bar and let the plates slide off to save your own life.
3) If there is no bench setup with safeties shame on your for paying such a crappy gym - but in that case use a spotter. Brief the spotter to stay the hell off your bar unless it starts coming back down. Gym Bros are used to the bench being basically a two-man effort with one guy deadlifting 1/3 the loaded bar while yelling "one more!! It's all you, Bro!!"
4) When the bar is moving back and forth over your face and throat, do it with locked elbows. At the end of a set, push the bar to lockout, then swing it to the hooks with locked elbows. DO NOT "aim" the bar at the j-hooks on the last rep - all ya gotta do is bang one side off the bottom of the hook and down she comes on your face with your surprised, fatigued butt unable to do anything about it.
5) You're not doing this, but never let anybody talk you into a "thumbless" grip. This bit of Bro Think revolves around the idea it's the only way to get the bar to sit between the two eminences of the heel of your hand thereby eliminating a moment arm between radius and bar.
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
Good rules, thanks. I have safeties available on one rack that I usually use and I do use them (I took them off for visibility in that one photo). On the other racks with light weight (65 lb, 75 lb) I sometimes don't... but I suppose everything is relative... if a shoulder or arm decides to check out for some reason, the bar comes down. So yeah I suppose any weight needs it. Other people are always available nearby and I do use spotters if the weight is heavy. And I did learn that you need to have a conversation with the spotter about the expectations (i.e. don't touch the bar unless needed). Back when I was doing 5/3/1 I had a guy "help" just a bit but I didn't know how much that figured into my rep count. Not using clips on the plates, will have to think about that one... I was under the impression that was a last resort if you're bench pressing by yourself and no safety bars or other backup. Aiming at the hooks on the last rep, yes bad habit I will work on. Agreed, no thumbless grip!
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
I keep my power rack safeties set so that, with my normal arch, I don't hit them, but if I release my arch, I can slide out from underneath the bar. I don't normally need the safeties but one time not all that long ago, maybe last year, I misloaded the bar to be about 20 lbs heavier than it should have been - used 10's instead of 5's or something like that. I had planned a set of 5 reps, and I got the first one, and while it did feel heavier than I thought it should feel, I didn't think too much about it. The second rep, however, didn't go up, and having those safeties in the right spot was very nice.

-S-
 

krg

Level 5 Valued Member
I actually got a phone call from my 16yo son when he was training in my garage. I went out to find him under the bar - he had the safety pins set appropriately so he was in no danger but didn't quite have enough room to wriggle out - his phone was in reach under the bench so he called me out.

We had a laugh about it but I'm glad

a) I bought a full power rack when starting out
b) I was an anally retentive a$$hole about using the safety pins when he was learning to squat and bench. Most of his friends don't use them.

It's one of the few lifts where the bar is over you and there is no way of getting rid of it in a hurry safely.

Agree completely with Bill
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
Thanks guys... @Bill Been @Steve Freides @krg

Based on your inputs I contacted the gym manager about ordering some more safety bars for use in the other racks, since I've often seen others use them too when the one with safety bars is in use. Even if light, even if others are around... I should be setting the example, as a part-time trainer there! I will do so.
 

Rbt

Level 1 Valued Member
Whenever i was practicing the bench press i always liked to do single dumbbell pullovers and really lower the dumbbell back to get a good stretch while it puts you in that arched position
 
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