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Saturday, August 20, 2011

PHYSICAL TRAINING SIMPLIFIED - The Complete Science of Muscular Development - (circa 1930) - CHAPTER 21 - THE BENT PRESS: THE MOST FASCINATING LIFT, ALSO THE SIDE PRESS - By Mark H. Berry

Immediately following, we are outlining the important points in the performance of the Bent Press Lift. Right after the Bent Press, we describe another similar lift, the Side Press or One Arm Push. We want you to read the lift descriptions in this order; but strange as it may seem, we advise mastering the Side Press first. The man who has thoroughly mastered the details of the latter lift and can perform it smoothly will run into fewer difficulties in getting onto the fine points of the more complicated Bent Press. To do the job properly and absolutely thoroughly, the man who is willing to spend extra time on the successful mastery of these lifts will make more certain progress by first practicing a Side Press exercise with a dumb bell of moderate weight. In an effort to accomplish the greatest possible lift with one hand, European lifters years ago evolved the Bent Press. At first this lift was undoubtedly nothing more than an exaggerated one hand press. It was observed that a greater poundage could be handled with one hand if the lifter bent slightly to the side rather than to stand bolt upright. Then as the lifting attempts mounted into increasingly higher poundage, the athletes were forced to bend farther to the side.

Observations by some of the craftier men led to ways and means of employing a lower bend to improve the quality of the lift. Although evolved or invented on the continent of Europe, the lift has long since passed into disfavor in that part of the world, but has taken a firm hold on the lifters of Great Britain and the United States. We will not enter into the controversy as to which individual was mainly responsible for the perfection of the lift as we now know it. To the enthusiast, the greatest interest should lie in learning to perform the movement correctly. We shall, therefore, consider the chief technicalities involved in mastering the Bent Press.

To begin with, very few men will find themselves adaptable to the complicated series of movements at the very start. Some few men will never be able to perform the lift. The proper way to get started is to first master preliminary exercise movements, and once having learned the rudiments, the actual lift should not be so difficult of mastery. Side Pressing exercises, where you press a dumb bell to arms length while bending to the side and the bar bell lift known as the Side Press will both prove useful in preparing yourself for this splendid lift, with which you may raise the greatest poundage overhead with one hand. A bar bell of rather extreme length is best for the advanced or experienced lifter, though the beginner may have greater success with a bell of three or four feet in length.

Having lifted the bell to the shoulder, you balance it on one hand which we will assume for the present is your right. Observe that the forearm is perpendicular, and it should remain so throughout the lift. A straight line of support should run almost directly down through the forearm and the right leg. The right elbow should rest on the hip, and it is possible for you to hold the position. Some few men will find it necessary to force the arm away over on the upper back in order to gain a substantial support for the arm. Before commencing on the actual pressing, it is well to concentrate the mind on the complete movement as it must be performed and not expect to center the attention on each stage of the continuous lift.

The scientific principle of the Bent Press consists of keeping the bell about shoulder height, supported on a straight line running through the perpendicular forearm and right leg. While the weight is thus supported, mainly by bone strength, the body is so manipulated by bending as to almost place the upper arm in a straight line below the forearm; then, at the proper moment, the right leg is bent and by means of a full squat, you succeed in bring the arm straight under the bell; from this position, you stand erect with the bell.

Following is a more detailed description of each of the main stages; endeavoring to give as concise and complete description as possible with a minimum of illustrations. The bell is balanced on the right hand; it is best to swing the bar around so as to bring it as near as possible to being parallel with the shoulders. As to the exactness of your balance, it is better to have the bell slightly out of balance on the front or far end, rather than on the back or thumb end. Keeping the bell balanced on the right hand, you bend towards the left; meanwhile, keeping the left leg straight. It will be best to keep the left knee locked until you have bent pretty well to the side. Then you gradually begin to bend forward and bend the left knee. When performed in the usual manner, the body is bent neither directly to the side nor forward, but half way between.. You may help steady the body by resting the left hand on the left thigh or knee. As some lifters perform the lift, the hand is kept firmly on the knee and not removed throughout the entire bending movement. Others slide the left arm down along the left leg till the arm pit rests upon the knee. Some form of arm support is quite imperative if the lift is to be successful with a heavy poundage. Try to keep the right leg straight as long as possible, or until the arm is nearly straight. Having reached a position where you find it necessary to bend the right knee, you bend the body to the limit and work into a squat with the arm straight under the bell. The final squat is one of the most important points if you expect to properly master the lift. With the bell safely balanced, and assisting with the left arm, force the body erect and the lift will be completed. Many beginners make the mistake of pulling the bell over with them when starting the bend to the side; this brings both the right leg and forearm out of perpendicular line. You must cultivate sufficient suppleness to enable you to keep the right leg, right arm, and the bell in practically the same position while bending the body and the left leg; only altering the relative position of these parts when ready to bend the right leg.

Although we have stressed the importance of keeping a perpendicular line running straight through the supporting leg and lifting forearm, you will find it impossible to keep the forearm directly able the hip after you have bent well to the side. The extreme side bending will cause the elbow to move upward along the side of the body; however, the forearm must remain perpendicular. Those who find it impossible to rest the elbow on the hip at the commencement of the lift should adopt a style of pulling the lifting arm well to the back and using the latissimus muscle as a means of support. The perpendicular forearm is likewise essential when this method is employed.

Some swinging or turning of the bar is necessary, as with the sideward and forward bend of the body, you also alter the position of the upper arm and lifting hand. The thumb end of the bell will follow the head to some extent as you go down, and as you gain the upright position at the finish of the lift, the bell is bound to swing back around again. A decided fast turning of the bar is induced by some lifters, but a moving weight is more difficult to balance than a stationary one, so you will do well to cultivate steadiness of the bar. A constant upward pressure on the bar must be maintained throughout the lift, even thought he bell remains at one level. The latissimus muscle must be strong to properly support the upper arm as a terrific strain is placed on that muscle during the entire lift. A large and powerful latissimus is a great help, and furthermore, this lift develops the muscles better than any exercise you can practice. All in all, the Bent Press is extremely complicated, but once mastered, you will always feel well repaid for your trouble.


The action of the Side Press is very similar to that of the Bent Press, and although the rules governing it call for more strict positions, the lift is not a complicated one. A bar bell is used should be Cleaned to the shoulder with one hand. Stand with the feet about twelve inches apart, both legs straight, the bell at the shoulder. At the commencement of the lift, the shoulders must be level and the lifting arm must be kept free of the body throughout the entire lift; likewise, the free arm must be kept clear of the body and cannot assist in any way. The proper commencing position should be with the body erect, weight squarely placed on both feet, legs straight, the free arm held out to the side; the lifting arm held off the body, the bar bell at shoulder height and several inches from the deltoid. It will be best to turn the bar bell as we suggested for the Bent Press, that is with the bar almost parallel to the shoulders. You will find the lifting arm will need some support, and this is best supplied by the latissimus, which may be flexed strongly, the triceps resting against it. Lean to the side, and keep bending as far down as you can, meanwhile vigorously exerting the combined latissimus and triceps to steady and evenly press the weight. As it is impossible to actually bend far to the side, you will learn to bend partly forward. The farther you can bend the body, the more successful the lift will be, as the legs must remain straight.

The accomplished Side Presser will learn to lock the whole upper body and use the hips as a hinge; very little could be accomplished by bending to the side, while keeping the legs in the perpendicular starting position; you must learn to thrust the hips out well to the lifting side, inclining both legs in the same direction; this assists in properly centering the body and at the same time a counter balance is effected. The hip position will be assisted by turning both feet in the same direction, having both point well to the left. This lift is not nearly as hard to learn as it sounds. Proper mastery of details will enable you to perform the Side Press in a very technical manner. First using the free arm as a counter-balance, and then the hips in the same manner. It will pay you well, to get this movement down pat before attempting the Bent Press, and then make an exaggerated Side Press when first attempting the more difficult lift. The longer you can keep both legs straight, when commencing the side bend of the Bent Press, the less trouble you will have in getting under the bell. The Bent Press, like the One Arm Snatch, is performed slightly different by every specialist, but is hard to do a decent Side Press without following the details as just outlined. This is due to the compulsory arms free from the body and locked knees limiting the muscular actions.

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