The bent press. The side press.
This is a lift you will probably never see performed in most gyms, and for a year its the only overhead work I did in preparation for strongman contests.
Back in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s there wasn’t a single gym within an hour drive of me that had strongman implements, so to maximize my ability to lift odd objects the best way I could, I did the bent press.
This is about as whole body as an upper body lift can get. And it puts your body into a position it is not used to when doing overhead work.
There isn’t one part of you that isn’t working when you do this lift:
This lift can be performed with either a dumbbell or a barbell. For safety’s sake at first, I would recommend using a dumbbell and work your way up to a barbell. The barbell requires more balance and more body control, which I would not take lightly when performing this lift.
Invest in a pair of quality collars. Spring collars aren’t going to cut it. I purchased Ironmind Bulldog 2 collars because they bit into the bar when wrenched down, and with 185+ pounds on the bar, that comes in handy.
In the early 1900’s this was a classic strongman lift.
Arthur Saxon was rumored to press 370 overhead using this style. Whether or not that is accurate weight is a topic of debate for another day.
This isn’t a complex lift to perform, but it takes practice to get it right.
Part of the problem with the side press is finding the balance on the bar. You have to be careful, one centimeter off and the bar looks like a seesaw as you try to press it. Remedy this when the bar is on your back, use the free hand to help. Muscling up a bar that is off-center is not only stupid, but damn dangerous.
Warmup first, thoroughly. This lift puts a lot of stress on your shoulders, lower back and hamstrings. If you are inflexible, this lift will expose you quickly. Start light.
If you do this in a commercial gym, as I did, be prepared to answer a thousand questions as to what the hell you are doing. I guarantee that almost nobody in any commercial gym has ever seen this lift before, so if you want to do it there, make it count and don’t look like a dope.
Again, start with a DB first, get the basic form down before you move on to the manmaker of a barbell side press. Not only will you get stronger in the side press (obviously) but every upper body lift will increase. Every single one. Its a great overall lift for the upper body, but its not for the uncoordinated.
Good luck, and don’t drop the damn bar on your head.
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