It absolutely does make sense! Rip also mentions an option not to arch, but doesn't explain. Can you elaborate on that option? I understand shortening the ROM for competitions. But I'm not looking to compete. I don't want to say no to hypertrophy and my understanding is that ROM is good for that. I do care about shoulder health though.
as a note: I realize that limiting myself to Squats, DL, Press, Bench, Row, and Chins will do much more for strength than hypertrophy. But I'd like to save some bodybuilding aspects if possible.
The arch can get complicated. I believe you need an arch in the upper back to keep your shoulders healthy when benching. This will also keep you stable and allow you to press more weight. Worth noting that quite often what is "healthy" will also allow you to lift more. So, the "healthy arch" i'm talking about is really just pulling your shoulder blades back and down, which as a side effect will cause a slight arch in the upper back (your rib cage will pop up). If you're not too fussed about breaking bench records or you don't want to compete, and you want to actually "feel" your pecs working, then this is all you need. Actually, this is all I teach people at first. Normally this position plus finding the right grip width and bringing the bar down to the right place (for that person) is more than enough for them to be thinking about initially. In practical terms, if you are struggling with these points just now, then thinking about anything else will overwhelm you and I would advise side lining any other thoughts right now until these initial cues feel as natural as "driving to work" (almost subconscious).
When you have all this down, then you have a whole bunch of other things you can bring to the table, like getting an even tighter arch and manipulating set up and foot position to maximise leg drive. These points are very individual and also goal dependant. The tighter you get, the more you will lift. Some people like to be flat footed, others up on toes, some have feet behind knees, some have feet way out in front, some have feet narrow, thighs gripping the bench, some have feet way out wide, others are somewhere in the middle. This isn't something I can help you with, it's down to you, really. I can help you find the best position but I can't tell you what the best position would be. Some of the positions I just listed will put far too much strain on places you shouldn't be straining. Others will make heavy weights feel lighter. Others will make light weights feel heavier. Honestly, this is the beauty of strength training, this is where you develop your own skill set. However, it's best to get the basics to feel natural first.
It's kind of like a beginner MMA fighter. You would teach him how to do a basic kick first before teaching him a spinning back kick. Extreme arching and leg drive is the bench press equivalent of a spinning back kick. Right now, I think your best mastering front and side kicking, it'll make learning the spinning back kick much easier, if you choose to do so, and you don't need to (this is where goals come in i.e. "why" you are benching).
Great read there. So when you say "straight path" I don't suppose you mean straight over the shoulder. I'm guessing you mean straight over the touching point at bottom position. How would straight path work without minimizing MA by arching?
Yes that's right. Down and up in a straight line. When you arch, you essentially turn the flat bench press into a decline press so it may make sense to you if you think about MA's in terms of a decline bench. The only difference is, instead of laying on a declined bench, you create the decline by arching your upper back...... Make sense??
I tried looking for videos of Metal Militia and found a few that were not commentated and look questionable. Found a decent one for Westside setup (below). Any idea where I can get a better sense?
Yeh, it's quite hard to find stuff on them. I don't have anything saved, but you get some interviews etc on bodybuilding.com and critical bench, i'm sure... Not seen any video tutorials or anything, just videos of competition lifts.
It's worth emphasising that metal militia and westside barbell create some of the strongest bench pressers in the word, mostly if not exclusively fully geared, too. It's way at the extreme end of the bench pressing spectrum. Still, though, it's good to learn from them, just keep in mind where they are coming from.
Oh, I'd rather front load the confusion and do it once. Tate mentions that you gotta be very uncomfortable before you unrack the bar. That was a bit weird. And when I tried arching my legs back until I was on my toes, it felt like I'd never want to unrack a heavy bar that way. Feet planted solid and pushing feels good and comfortable (so it's bad?).
lol, sounds good. The uncomfortable thing is right. I've had a very well conditioned MMA fighter get out of breath benching an empty bar.... For maximum effort, tightness is key. The more you put into your set up the easier the weight will feel. It is a weird concept. I often remind people that they are lifting heavy things, not taking a warm bath. It's not supposed to be relaxing, ya know.
I think it's better to explain the tightness thing in the squat. Do you ever walk the weight out of the rack and it feels intimidatingly heavy? Then other times you walk it out and it feels lighter? I bet it's inconsistency in your set up. Far too many people unrack the weight any old way then walk it out, THEN they get tight, take a breath etc and start the lift. If you spend time getting mega tight under the bar before you unrack and walk it out, the weight will always feel lighter than if you stay loose. You need to turn your body into a concrete pillar. How do you make your muscles feel like concrete - contract everything! It's not easy and it's not comfortable but anything worth doing rarely is
At 2:45 at the above video the guy says "keep the weight on your triceps where it's supposed to be." This is very different to Rip. Is that your opinion as well?
Well, in a word yes. What he's really saying is you shouldn't bench with a flat back, which I agree with. By not benching with a flat back and therefore, arching, you lessen shoulder rotation (more shoulder rotation = more pec) and by doing so along with tucked elbows, you emphasise the triceps.
To be clear, I don't see any value in a flat backed bench press. I always want an arch. At minimum just a slight arch created via tightening the shoulder blades, at most an extreme arch (or as extreme as you're capable of getting into) if you're all about lifting the maximum weight possible.
I actually read your pulling the bar down advice in other threads. Have been trying to do that ever since. I heard "pulling apart" before, can you explain the logic?
Sure. Pulling the bar "down" with the shoulder blades, the way I teach this is when I have people to a seated cable row (or chest supported DB row). I put my fingers between their shoulder blades and cue them to focus completely on squeezing them together. I then tell them this is how you should lower the bar on bench press, or lower yourself to the ground on a push up - you "row" yourself down or row the bar down.
Pulling apart has different logic for the way down and the way up. On the way down it's for even more back tightness. It is essentially an isometric "band pull apart" (youtube this if you don't know what it is). Band pull aparts create the movement of pulling your shoulder blades together. So again it emphasises tightness.
To understand the way up, think of a tricep extension/push down/kick back - you straighten the elbow, right? Pulling the bar apart on the way up emphasises the need to straighten the elbow therefore use more tricep to help with the lift.
Pulling the bar apart is to the shoulder blades and triceps in benching what "pushing the knees out" is to the hips and hamstrings in a squat.