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“Sad Day in Benching”: Lifting Community Brutally Reacts to Powerlifter Bench Pressing 308 Lbs With Poor Form

Published 02/18/2024, 10:44 AM EST

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Bench pressing is a popular exercise that many in the fitness world focus on for building their bodies. While there are different ways of performing a bench press, one cannot deny that some techniques often seen being performed on social media are absolutely dismal. One of those techniques is precisely what IFBB Pro coach Greg Doucette shared, one he believes won’t be legal in the IPF.

Doucette’s clip featured a female powerlifter attempting an impressive 308-pound bench press. However, they executed what is known as an arching bench press, a technique that involves significant curvature of the spine during the lift. This approach, while allowing for the handling of heavier weights, is often questioned regarding its legitimacy and safety.

The video surfaced against the backdrop of changes announced by the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) in 2022. The federation implemented new rules that came into effect in 2023, aimed at curbing certain practices, including excessive arching during the bench press. One of the technical changes had to do with the execution of the bench press. And how it would be judged.

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Per barbend.com, “The lifter must lower the bar to the chest or abdominal area whereby the underside of the elbow joint is level with (or below) the top of the shoulder joint.” Failure to adhere to these guidelines results in disqualification.

In the video, the weightlifter evidently has very little range of motion, considering the extent of the arch of their spine as well as the positioning of their wrists. Substantial arches typically allow athletes to lift more weight. Per the new IPF rules, the elbow should be level with or below the shoulder for a rep to count. In this case, though, while the athlete did attempt a rep, it didn’t seem like they adhered to the rule. That’s precisely what Doucette pointed out.

In the caption, he wrote, “This would not pass as a legal lift in the IPF. It’s similar to doing a 1/4 squat for squats. Yeah, you lifted a lot of weight, but no reps were performed!!!” Despite the changes, some still perform the bench press employing old techniques, as they aren’t bound by IPF rules while training in their homes. So when the IFBB Pro coach asked followers for their opinions, they didn’t pass up the opportunity to point out just what they felt about the non-rep.

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There was only one “impressive thing” about the video, and it wasn’t the weight

In response to Doucette’s post, sports fanatics and lifting enthusiasts expressed dismay. Considering how a few people may think the rep in the video legal, one user wrote, “Sad day in benching.” Comments ranged from criticism of the limited range of motion to concerns about the safety implications of the technique.

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Hinting that the gymgoer used a wider grip to facilitate an easier lift, another user wrote, “Range of motion was one inch.” Another fitness enthusiast was simply taken aback by the lift and questioned, “The f*ck was that?” Many echoed sentiments of discomfort since the grip used by the powerlifter was putting too much pressure on their elbows, increasing the chances of an injury.

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Stating this fact, one follower wrote, “Hurts to watch very dangerous!” Many others echoed this sentiment: “It looks like her arms were about to snap in half. omg, this is dangerous.” Just as Greg Doucette brought up the fact that this wasn’t a legal lift, others gave their thoughts on it as well.

One wrote, “There’s no way anyone thinks that’s a valid lift,” while another gave a more detailed reason why this wasn’t a legal lift. “To be considered a valid benchpress, the arms have to be bent to 90°. The arms were not bent to 90°. So, in no way will this lift count in the IPF. This is not an actual benchpress. This is locking and unlocking your elbows,” they wrote.

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Lifting 308 pounds is no easy feat, let alone benchpressing that much. However, seeing the athlete’s form, a user wrote, “The only impressive thing about this is she didn’t severely injure herself.” As the lifting community continues to evolve, discussions surrounding technique and regulation remain essential for ensuring fair and safe competition. What’s your opinion about the arching bench press? Let us know in the comments.

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Written by:

Arpita Shrivastava

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Arpita Shrivastava is a bodybuilding writer at EssentiallySports who specializes in tracking the lifestyles of bodybuilders. A master’s degree holder in Mass Communication, Arpita is a frequent contributor to coverage about her idols Ronnie Coleman and Jay Cutler. She likes going behind the scenes to understand the nitty-gritty of building a shredded physique.
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Edited by:

Abhishek Manikandan