Bench Press Purpose

CF said in another post that the bench serves primarily as a general organism stimulus. What does this mean? That it increases overall body strength? I was of the belief that the bench was mainly for aiding the arm drive. If that is untrue, then why is it the main upper body lift?

I believe it is used as a general means to contribute to the overall strength of the organism, as well as acting as a means of potentiation. In example would be its use in tapering. It would be used approx 3 days out from a comp to stimulate the nervous system without fatiguing the prime movers for the race.

My coach told me before that raising the head and pushing into the floor with the legs and the other things powerlifters do to bench more weight would be useless for me because my primary concern was not the amount of weight lifted. If the bench’s main purpose is to raise general organism strength, then would it be better to push into the floor with the legs and attempt to recruit as many muscles as possible while doing the exercise?

Thanks for the reply

You want to be careful about arching your back too much during the bench

Because the extra recruitment of the lats isn’t worth the loss of ROM?

Probably because of the extra stress to the lower back. Very important for sprinting, but slow to recover.

Why is the main lift the bench press as apposed to say, the pullup?

I am not sure of the MUs involvement here, but it’s still a pushing vs. pulling action. Running is more of the latter and Bench Press conflicts the least with it.

There is no need to raise your head, and no need to exagerate the arch, but you should arch your back slightly to lock up your spine. Flexing your lats actually helps you stabilize the bar, allowing you to lift slightly heavier. I see some lifters lifting completely flat on their back, lats totally relaxed and some even lifting their feet off the floor. Not a good idea.

Not that I want to be a prick and keep on asking questions about it but the main point about which I was confused was why the arch isn’t exaggerated and a powerlifting form isn’t adopted. It seems like if the primary aim of the lift is general strength, then increasing the weight by any means would benefit the body as a whole even though the loss of rom through the arms would slow down the development of a few specific muscles. If the entire body is meant to be strengthened by the bench, then I’m assuming the majority of the musculature, like that in the legs for example, benefits from having to keep everything stable while lifting (not because of the range of motion and the actual raising done by the arms) and the release of HGH and other hormones.

I think taking more of a powerlifting form is ok as long as the arch isnt severe. As far as HGH and other hormones being released there was a thread a while back on it, and it appeared that most came to the conclusion that rendered hormone release during training to be relativley insignificant. Maybe someone can bring it up???

Also, if i recall correctly, CF mentioned the bench as only acting as a significant stimulus when the weight is high enough. I think it would be interesting to discuss when its use as a potentiation method would be most beneficial (as far as how heavy it needs to be). Is there a particular threshold for such stimulatory effects?

Increasing the load by placing the body in a more advantageous position won’t necessarily increase the CNS stress. For example, many lifters I know can board press (from a 2 or 3 board) 20% more than they can full press, however I don’t feel the CNS drain as much as I do with a lighter full press. So for me, board presses are easier to recover from, even if they are maximal and at a load 20% greater than my full bench press. Putting up a big arch has a similar effect as you are shortening the stroke. So one possibility would be that a big arch, if it reduced your stroke, may not provide any more, and possibly even slightly less, than a longer stroke with slightly less weight. I guess it depends on how much it shortens your stroke vs the increase in load you achieve.

Probably anything from 85% upwards will lead to potentiation with 90% and 95% leading to a greater potentiation. Short term potentiation likely to be anything between five and ten minutes. Longer term, likely to last from 1-5 days?

what kind of strain is realized in the lower back if you have an excessive arch?

the spine is not being compressed any. other than cramping, i dont see a problem.

a client of mine, pushed too hard on the bench last wk, Wed, by Sat he had to go see a chiro and get his back re-alligned. By the following Wed, his back was still suffering.
Basically, he pushed too hard, drove his heals into the ground unevenly, thereby twisting his lower back and cramping a muscle. Over the next few days, that cramp got worse and pulled his back out.

driving his heels unevenly and twisting seem to be the cause. not the arch.

exactly - naturally this was not done on purpose. all it takes is for one or a combination of the following
1 - feet are not in exact allignment
2 - one leg is tight (could be any muscle) and exerts less pressure to the ground than the other leg
3 - foot slips
4 - towel slides on bench marginally (i have seen this happen) Most gyms these days u have to use a towel.

Naturally, these dont happen often, but can happen. And not all the time anything even happens. Its just a case of something too look out for to prevent possible injury.