Arthur Saxon Bent Press

In Strongman Mastery by admin22 Comments

Since studying Arthur Saxon I’ve been doing a number of the exercises he outlines in The Development of Physical Power and Text Book of Weight Lifting.

One of them is the bent press done Arthur Saxon style. Considering he put up more weight then anyone else in the bent press I think it’s a good idea to listen to him about this exercise.

Here is my newest personal record, a 135 lbs. bent press.

Watching the video I still see lots of room for improvement in my bent press technique. The hardest part by far is going from the arm resting on the side to a complete lockout. I could have gotten lower instead of just struggling to press it out a little bit. But hey, I was successful.

If you look closely you’ll see me firing an anchor before commencing with the lift. After using this tactic this lift actually felt easier then my previous reps with 125 lbs.

I have to say, having been doing this regularly, I understand why so many of the oldtime strongmen loved this lift. Go ahead and try it out yourself. Just start light and realize that this is a very technical lift. Of course using a kettlebell for it makes it easier to do.

If you want lots more details on the bent press and many other “oldtime” exercises I highly recommend you check out the Arthur Saxon Power Pack.

In strength,
Logan Christopher

P.S. I’m going to start training with the two hands anyhow as well. When I break 200 lbs. in total I’ll post a video of that too.


  1. Technique question. I’ve never read the books, but from what little I knew of the lift I guessed that the reason someone could lift so much with a Bent Press was that the arm never actually moves the bar until lockout. The bar stays at the same height while the arm sort of pushes the body away towards the ground. Only once full arm lockout has been achieved does the lifter stand up. That made sense to me, because my lockout can handle a lot more weight than my bent arm. It seems like the core strength required would be similar either way.

    GIven this video, you do what looks like a modified side press once you have bent over, which seems a lot harder and seems like it would require a lot more brute arm strength. If I’m correct about my technique guess above, I bet if your technique looked more like the two hands anyhow video you posted, you could put up an even bigger weight.

    Either way, this is a ridiculously hard lift. It’s technical, at an awkward angle, requires a ton of balance and coordination, and really makes one doubt any previous claims of core strength. It’s a humbler for sure. Nicely done.

    1. @scott moehring: Yes technically you’re right. But in practice its not always so easy. Go ahead and try it and you’ll see for yourself.

      Like I said I need to get lower so that I’m not side pressing to finish the lift, though some press may be necessary. Another factor that is certainly in play is how long your arms are. I think Saxon’s build was perfectly suited for this lift, while mine is not.

  2. And, for what it’s worth, those that truly follow you don’t need the bit at the end with the video proof that the weight you put up was the 135lb you claimed. You’ve never given us any reason to ever doubt your integrity. Even if we disagree with certain methods or protocols, we trust you. Like all the good ones out there, you would never claim an achievement you hadn’t felt you’d honestly earned.

  3. “Another factor that is certainly in play is how long your arms are. I think Saxon’s build was perfectly suited for this lift, while mine is not.”

    I guess that’s why we don’t see any basketball players doing heavy Bent Presses. 🙂

    Yeah, it’s a tough one, and hits the core and arms in a completely different way. I can pull almost 400lb, but I can barely do 70lb in this movement.

  4. Wow! Congrats Logan!

    I just did that lift a couple of time like years ago while just fooling around with weights and the most I could handle for a rep was 75.

    The thing is that now in a good day I can lift a 75 kettlebell like 6 times in a row. Wonder how much can do now on this lift… anyway the mechanics are so different and it is so technical that I may end up with the same weight lol!

    This lift calls for specificity in training but it covers a lot of different areas on strengthening.

    1. Author

      @Abdiel Rodriguez: With a few weeks practice you can get your technique fairly decent and you might surprise yourself in what you’d be able to do. But yeah its not something you can jump right into and do a lot of weight with.

      @scott moehring: I know people that read my site trust me, but as you can see this video is also on youtube and I know from experience people will call anything fake. It happens a bunch with the kettlebell juggling videos so I made sure to nip that in the bud here, although it is hard to see.

  5. Logan just a question. My comment and your answer spiked my curiosity and interest.

    What scheme of reps-sets-and frequency would you recommend most for this movement. I have been injured for the last couple of months (slipped on my way entering a cave at the beach & landed on mi wrist) but now I feel fine for training. Was just thinking about a high volume of kettlebell swings almost daily for some fat loss and conditioning along with some pull ups and some other bodyweight exercises for a much lower volume just for the groove… and now it seems to me a good idea to pair the swings with this grind. What do you think?

    1. Author

      @Abdiel Rodriguez: I’ll just tell you what I’ve been doing lately regarding the bent press since you asked. I’m training the movement about 3 times a week. I could do more, but no less for a technical lift as it needs to be practiced frequently. It could probably be done everyday if you wanted, especially at the start to groove in the technique.

      As in pretty much everything I do I’m waving the loads. If I work with 95 lbs. I may do sets of 3. With 115 I managed a set of 3 the other day. I wouldn’t really go for high reps in this lift though. So far 3 is my maximum.

      Regardless of the load I look at increasing the total volume I do with it over the previous workout with that weight.

    1. @Dave: Not something you can rush through, especially with a heavy weight (whatever is heavy for the person). If you go to fast you’ll lose balance. Of course once this weight is easy I will be able to do it faster.

      1. @Logan:
        I’d always thought so but I read some advice once, I always confuse who said what out of Hoffman and Jowett, but it was that doing the last part of getting under the weight quickly helped a lot.

  6. everytime i have done this in the [ast i bent down then went into a type of squat position then once the bar was above me i just go nack up. is this wrong?

    1. Author

      @eddie: If I’m understanding you right then once the arm is locked you go into an overhead squat position. What I did here was a bit more of a windmill thought with a little bend in the legs. Both work, and the squat actually will be necessary once I move up even more in weight.

  7. Looks dangerous and crazy. I thought I read Benchpress. Isn’t there any safer exercise than doing something that looks like it could break your spine in three places? :S

    Will look up what a ‘bentpress’ really is and why people do this :S.

    1. A lot of people hear and see “bench press” when it is obviously “bent press”.

      It shows a focus on training…people who are on a bench with locked scapulae, lifting a weight with two arms and spotters version people who use their entire body, standing as God intended, lifting a weight using their entire body, with one arm.

      Who would be a stronger person?

      1. And I would like to emphasize, for the sake of technique, that the video on this page is not showing a proper bent press. While what is shown is as safe as a windmill or a side press, a bent press is properly something else, and one can handle far more weight.

        It is perfectly safe and I have never seen anyone get hurt doing a bent press. How many people have shoulder injuries and immobility due to bench pressing?

  8. Very nice, it’s tough keeping that bar from rotating near the top of the press. Nicely done!

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