#5 – The Bench Press
Mistake #5 is arching your back under bench presses. When this occurs you are making the exercise easier, hurting your spine, and likely not engaging the right muscles.
While doing a bench press, or any weightlifting exercise for that matter, you should be engaging your abs. In fact, your abs should get such a good workout while doing all the exercises in your set that you should need to do very few additional core exercises.
Before you even lift the bar off the rack, you should be bracing your core. Avoid pushing your stomach muscles outward – it should feel like your belly button is moving closer to your spine, but don’t just suck in your stomach. Your stomach should look flatter than it does when you are relaxed and feel like a hard surface if pressed on.
If your back arches while lifting the bar you are likely not engaging your core, and you may be trying to lift too much weight. This is never beneficial. The purpose of doing any weightlifting exercise is for strength gains. You’ll be getting much more out of the exercise if you don’t “cheat.”
Even small maneuvers like arching your back are simply your body’s way of moving against the path of least resistance. You want to be smart and avoid these cheating maneuvers by executing the exercise in the most difficult way possible.
Lastly, arching your back a lot results in hyperextension of the low back. As I’ve discussed in detail in the series the Top 5 Exercises Firefighters Should Not Do, this is a harmful position for your spine. Firefighters are much more prone to back pain and injuries than most others, so avoid doing unnecessary actions that contribute to the problem!
Read the complete series here (posting weekly):
T0p 6 Weightlifting Mistakes