Not only is the Bench Press an incredible lift for building strength, but if you’re looking for more definition and upper body development- it’s easily one of our favorites! At Fitbliss, we like to have our athletes utilize the Powerlifting style Bench Press. When done with proper form, this compound movement will train not only your chest, but your shoulders, triceps, biceps, back, and even your legs!
Many women avoid the bench press when lifting at commercial gyms where the racks tend to be dominated by men. BUT don’t let that stop you! We’re here to equip you with everything you need to take advantage of this lift. Today we’re sharing our list of most frequently asked questions and answers about bench to help you feel strong and empowered on your bench days.
Q: Why do we arch in our bench press?
“You shouldn’t arch your back while you bench!”’
“You should have a flat back while you bench!”
“You need to be more careful, that’s not safe!”
These are comments you may hear when you first begin a program like ours that utilizes the powerlifting bench press.
You have to understand that most people are taught the bodybuilding “flat back” style of the bench press in high school and simply don’t know any different. This bench style isn’t necessarily “wrong” if you are trying to build big pec muscles, but it comes at the cost of being VERY dangerous by putting you at high risk for shoulder, bicep, and pec injury.
Instead, at Fitbliss we utilize the powerlifting style of bench press because it’s safer and will help you to build muscle and power throughout your entire body!
Contrary to a common misconception, this style is not meant to emphasize an arch in your lower back. Although it can look this way visually, what it’s actually emphasizing is a retracted scapula through arching your upper back and using your legs to create tension and leverage.
This position allows you to keep your shoulder stable and protect you from injury. Plus, you get to use your legs, glutes, lats, arms, AND pecs making it a full-body exercise instead of chest isolation exercise!
Since most women aren’t trying to build big pec muscles and don’t want to get injured, they find they actually prefer the Powerlifting style.
Q: What is scapular retraction?
To retract your scapula, you will think of pulling your shoulder blades towards each other (down and back) without shrugging up toward your ears.
Cue: Think of holding a pencil between your shoulder blades while also pulling your shoulder blades toward your back pocket.
You want to hold this position throughout the entire lift to maximize all muscles used in the bench press: triceps, rear delts, lats, chest, and biceps.
Cue: Think “chest up” the whole time to maintain your position
Q: Why do women arch, but men don’t?
It’s not that women arch more than men, it’s that our natural structure creates an exaggerated arch visually and literally because we have fuller glutes, smaller waists, and are more flexible overall than our male counterparts.
As women, it can be frustrating that men often want to give us unwarranted lifting advice. Always remember, just because someone is giving you advice– it doesn’t mean you need to listen to them. #SmileAndNod