Watching even the most controlled bent press, the precarious nature of the swinging a large amount of weight over your head leaves spectators feeling uneasy
Though this move may appear reckless, the unique swinging corkscrew maneuver of the bent press allows an inordinately large amount of weight to be lifted over the head one-handed.
A weight compound weight training exercise, the Bent press targets the back, legs, and arms while also engaging the core.
The bent press is performed by cleaning the weight up to rack positon and then swinging it around from shoulder level and into a one-handed overhead press. Utilizing proper technique, much more weight can be lifted than with typical two-handed presses.
Strongmen such as Arthur Saxon, Eugen Sandoe, and Louis Cyr favored this due to its power to impress in both technique and the amount of weight that can be conquered.
Though we can only guess at the exact origins of the Bent Press, we do know it was originally formed as an evolution of the classic press. This bent version was originally snubbed by the best weightlifting community and written off as a frivolous balancing trick.
It wasn’t until famous strongman Arthur Saxon historically threw up more than 300 pounds, eventually going on to master whopping 371 pounds, that the general strength-training populace began to accept it as a legitimate move.
It didn’t take long after that for all the naysayers to hail the bent press as one of the best lifts in history. The lift gained massive popularity after George Sailor called it “the greatest lift in the sport of weightlifting” in a 1937 article.
He went on to further sing its praises as he elaborated, calling it a lift to make you “better at all his lifts, and I will say any weight lifter should study and practice the Bent Press, which to my mind, is the King of all lifts.”
How to Perform the Bent Press
This maneuver can be performed with a kettlebell or barbell. Here, we’ll be teaching the kettlebell method.
Step 1: Choose a kettlebell of your preferred weight.
Step 2: Perform a basic clean to get it up into rack position, using both hands, rotate your feet to a 45-degree angle to curl it up into the rack.
Step 3: Connecting your arm and your lat, rotate the arm outward and away from your chest, keeping your arm perpendicular to the ground.
Step 4: Bending your body in a sort of simultaneous corkscrew, wherein your body moves toward the front as the weight moves behind, drive the weight upward with your back leg.
Step 5: Maneuver underneath the kettlebell, transferring your weight to the opposite leg as you continue to drive the weight overhead.
Step 6: Squat slightly to properly lock out your arm as you focus your gaze on the weight.
Step 7: Continue your corkscrew movement as you stand, holding the weight overhead.
Step 8: Exercise caution and control as you reverse your movements to safely bring the weight back to the ground.
Step 9: Repeat the process for the desired number of reps.
- The versatility of weight type
- Improves thoracic mobility
- Strengthens the shoulder
- Teaches stability
- Improves balance and coordination
- Increases flexibility and agility
- Identifies and corrects body imbalances
- Utilizes leverage
- Kettlebell Press
- Waiter Press
- Kneeling Kettlebell Press
- Kettlebell Push Press
- Barbell Press
- Dumbell Press
Know What You’re Doing Before You Bent Press
This advanced and complicated move takes time to safely and properly master. Many amateurs have attempted to perform the bent press without taking proper precautions and gotten injured as a result.
Over time it has largely fallen out of favor due to safety concerns over the thoracic rotation and amount of core strength required. However, due to its utilization of body leverage in the lift, it can be a safe exercise as long as it is performed correctly.
Make sure you have the strength and knowledge before attempting this move. Start with a low amount of weight to perfect your technique before loading yourself up.