The Greatest Press Ever

Let me tell you a quick story, but a sad story, a story about a lifter.

When this lifter was young and new he started out doing bench presses just like any good lifter would do. Also like many others, these bench presses started to hurt his shoulders. But hurt shoulders were macho and cool, and it was a badge of honor not to be able to sleep on his side so he wore his pain proudly.

Luckily our lifter was called to adventure, entered the cave, and returned to the normal world with an evolution of his thinking. This evolution lead to him mostly avoiding bench presses for the next ten years rather than suffering through pain that wasn’t worth it. But without bench presses whatever would our lifter do for upper body development?
Fortunately for our lifter there is the other B-lift: the bent press.

If you are not familiar with the bent press then I am gleeful that it is I who gets to share this special lift with you for the first time.

The bent press is a one-arm lift that involves lifting a weight overhead with little to no pressing movement at all. In fact, calling it a press at all is a bit of a misnomer other than you are in fact putting the weight overhead without using a quick lift motion such as in a snatch or jerk. The actual movement is a bit more like a corkscrew under the weight.

Now what is particularly interesting about the bent press is how much weight can be hoisted with it. In fact, I can have you putting a bigger kettlebell overhead than you ever have before the very first day you learn it.

In lieu of getting too deep into the explanation in text, I think this video will be most helpful:

A major point on this movement not covered in the video: in my experience the best way to train this movement is very heavy, for very few reps, and very infrequently. In fact, the single best way I’ve found is to simply work up to a single max lift, preferably increasing to a new PR each time (using a loadable dumbbell versus kettlebell) and then waiting a week or two before tackling it again. Obviously if you are just learning the movement a few more reps will be helpful, but I do not believe that this is a movement that benefits from lots and lots of reps of lower weight.

Until someone shows me another lift where you can put almost 400lbs overhead with one hand, the bent press will always be king of the upper body lifts.

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