In this article, we are going to focus on one of the most common errors people make on the bench press.
A good setup on the bench requires a great amount of tension throughout the entire body. This is coupled with thoracic (upper back) extension and power breathing. The upper back extension sets the lifter up onto their traps and locks their hips into the floor, providing they have the appropriate hip mobility.
The problem arises when the weight nears a lifter’s rep max and the effort required to lock the weight, pushes them out of a good arch – specifically, they lose the retraction and depression of their shoulder blades, and they protract their shoulders to lockout the weight. This is a big issue especially for the next repetition in the set. The good stable platform they created with the tensioning in the lats and upper back, along with the retraction of the shoulders, has been lost. And all subsequent repetitions will be placing a great amount of strain on the anterior aspect of the shoulders.
If you have the appropriate upper back strength and mobility to get a good setup on the bench, you should be able to keep it throughout the duration of the entire set. But as we know, fatigue changes everything. Stay away from the “grinder” reps and stick with a weight you can control and still maintain good form.
And remember, putting everything you have into a rep, doesn’t mean you have to lose form. Keep practicing and keep that arch!