No, not the bench press—the bent press. This exercise was popular in the 18th and 19th centuries but fell out of favor at the cusp of the 20th century and has dived into obscurity since then. Why? Well, the exercise was really, really, really hard to perform. You had to be really strong in every muscle, and have exceptional endurance, balance, and flexibility. The movement was a man’s move—a lifter’s lift. It especially gained traction in the late 19th century from a fellow by the name of Arthur Saxon.
If that name doesn’t ring a bell, don’t beat yourself up, not many people would recognize it nowadays. But back then, he was the king of strength—performing feats that even strongmen of today would stand in awe over. Some of these included military pressing 252 pounds, snatching 200 pounds…with ONE hand, and bent pressing a world record 371 pounds. To this day, nobody has ever lifted more in the bent press than him, and it may be that nobody ever does.
So, besides everything else I’ve mentioned, it’s just a really cool lift to do. Have your friends gasp in excitement as the mighty [insert name] lifts a 200-pound weight over their head with ONE ARM…ooohh…ahhhh. Sorry, I was stuck in fantasy there for a moment! Anyway, now that I’ve talked about how awesome it is, what exactly IS a bent press, and how do you practice and get better at it?
Bent pressing is 50% skill and 50% mindset. So, grab your hemp oil and drink some warm tea because we’re in for a bumpy ride. First, you have to psyche yourself down, as in, you have to imagine you’re NOT about to lift 100, 200, or even 300 pounds with one arm over your head. Next, you need to approach the bar from the side, prop it up so it’s on its end, grab it in the middle with your right hand, placing your left hand directly under your right, and then whipping the bar over your shoulder while getting into a lunge position.
Then, you have to stand up with the weight at your shoulder. Now, drive your elbow behind your back and into your hip region while keeping your right leg straight and bending your torso to your left leg, which is also bent. While bending, slowly straighten out your arm until your torso is 90-degrees with the floor and the barbell is fully at arm’s length. Now, slowly move your torso upright while getting into a squat position. Now, stand up with the barbell at arm’s length, close your feet, and bam! You’ve done your first bent press.
The mindset aspect of bent pressing is really tough. You seriously have to tell yourself it’s less weight than it is and break into a chant before the lift. Bill Kazmaier would say “I can, I will” and I’ve adopted the same practice. Before getting under the bar, chew some hemp seeds to lubricate the joints, blast whatever music gets your adrenaline pumping, and then keep reciting your mantra while reminding yourself it’s about half the weight it really is. Following these steps, I’ve managed to get 115 pounds, which isn’t too shabby for a girl. You should try it out and see how you fare!
Article author : Vicky Ward