Everyone loves the bench press, a big strength movement that shows how much weight you can lift off your chest, I love the bench movement. Whether for strength, hypertrophy or for power the bench is a staple in most programs. Along with the chin up, the bench is in my top upper body strength moves. Like most exercises there are multiple ways to perform the bench, the power lifter way with a deep arch in your back, a semi arch in your back, no arch in your back, there is common grip, close grip, wide grip. incline , decline and all variations in between.
Now none of them are wrong and there is no one best way to perform the bench, when done in any variation you can see strength improvements.
The bench press utilizes the full body, we get a push through the arms to move the weight away from our chest while at the same time the legs are pushing (driving) through the floor to create full body tension to gain max strength. Predominantly it is a measure of the upper body but we are teaching the whole body to produce tension and force, keeping body synchronization together.
Now for certain people there are ways to bench for optimal performance of the body and system to keep them healthy and able to perform the lift. If your goal is to max bench heavy weight then this way of benching is not going to always be your go too, I expect you to have and are and drive through the legs and feet to produce force.
Lifting drives our sympathetic nervous system which puts us in an extension pattern, (lower back arch, and chest up and forward), not a bad thing we need the body to do this its natural but when we get this repeated pattern under malposition and added resistance it can become and issue. When lowering the bar to the chest in the bench the body is preparing for external load absorption and to move it in the opposite direction so it drives sympathetics we get the back to arch and ready to push, if we are constantly loading the back in the bench press we are losing some development of the chest and losing rib cage position. (Again not a bad thing).
When starting off with bench stability we coach a lower back flat and “pushing through the bench” this allows the hips to slightly posterior tilt and the abdominals (obliques) to hold the ribcage and hips in a neutral position, while still feeling the feet flat on the floor. This position will take some pushing away from the feet but we want to teach a good push and REACH with the upper body while the ribs and hips stay in an advantageous position. This position will allow proper lengthening of the pecs and develop serious upper body strength.
Once you have built a base with the above technique you can now allow the arch to occur, maintain the abdominal and glute activation and drive through the feet and the strength numbers should jump again. When you feel that one or the other has hit a plateau you can change up the technique to keep breaking the plateau.