Arthur Saxon, ‘The Bent Press’, THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHYSICAL POWER (LONDON, 1906)

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Constant practice is the only way in which one may succeed in raising a heavy weight in this position. It will, no doubt, be useful to read below how the lift is performed, but it will be no use to expect an immediate increase in your present lift simply by reading my instructions as to this position. PRACTICE is the great thing, all the time endeavoring to find a position which will suit yourself. I will describe the barbell lift, as in a bar bell more may be raised than in any other way.

The bell may be raised with two hands to the shoulder (as described in the preceding chapter), or it may be raised to the shoulder with a clean pull in, although, of course, when one reaches a very heavy weight, it is impossible to get it to the shoulder except by using two hands. If anything like a heavy weight is to be raised, then it is imperative that the center be accurately marked, so that you will not have to move the weight about while it is held at your shoulder, as this is certain to exhaust your strength and spoil the
lift.

Having gotten the bell to the shoulder with the elbow firmly placed on the hip, the first thing to do is to get the feet in the proper position. As may be supposed, when one is pressing, say, 200 pounds, it is not easy to shift the feet about without destroying the balance, and causing the weight to fall. Therefore, get your feet placed in the correct position before you commence to press. Another point I will mention here is that the eyes must no, at any portion of the lift, be taken off the weight.

Holding the bell at the shoulder, fall away from same, but do not allow the elbow to move from off the hip until compelled to do so, as you can support far more in this po- sition, without tiring the muscles, than you could if you allowed the weight to fall on muscles alone, without supporting same rather by bone strength than muscle strength. In allowing the body to fall forward, the speed of the movement must be at all times governed by the balance you feel you have attained. Of course, it is best to get the lift over as quickly as possible, but a fair speed in pressing may be obtained only when it is felt that a perfect balance has been gained, otherwise to hurry will only be to cause the weight to fall.

Another hint is that the bell should not be held any longer than absolutely necessary at the shoulder before commencing to press, as your strength begins to wane immediately the bell reaches the shoulder. Having pressed the weight to a straight arm, then you must not endeavor to rise until you are cer- tain that you again have gotten thorough control over the weight. Your position at this point should be such that your hand is held over your shoulder, which, in turn, should be over the shoulder belonging to the disengaged arm.

This shoulder, in its turn, should be over the left knee, so that a straight line could be drawn from the right hand to the left foot, and if this line be bro- ken or thrown out in any way, the weight, if a heavy one, will pass out of your control and fall to the ground. If you feel that you are holding the weight firmly, then you may bend the right leg a little to bring yourself well beneath the weight, and by pushing firmly with the left hand or forearm at the left knee, you will be able to stand erect, when the bar bell may be changed from one hand into two, and so lowered to the chest and then to the ground.

In the body press, I hold my elbow well to the back and fall for- wards. Some weight-lifters hold their elbow more to the front and fall sideways, and such men, of course, will have to be very supple, and a disadvantage, to my mind, in this position is that in falling sideways the right shoulder has to be pulled up close to the right side of the face, and it becomes very difficult to lock the shoulder in its right position at the end of the lift, so that often such a lifter will press a weight to a straight arm, and then be compelled to drop same. I do not allow the bar bell to swing any more than possibly can be helped.

Some lifters commence with the bar bell at right angles to the shoulders instead of merely parallel to same, which latter posi- tion is the one I adopt. The men who hold the bell at right angles allow the body to turn and the bar to revolve as they allow the body to sink. One thing I cannot recommend is that the disen- gaged hand be placed on the floor. I hardly consider this fair, but whether this be so or not, it is not a good position, as the balance is apt to be destroyed by the jerk necessary to bring the body erect. Do not bend the body any lower than you are compelled. A good practice for strengthening the muscles used in this lift, and for giving you better control over your bell, is, after pressing same aloft, to bring aloft with the disengaged hand, a ring weight or small dumb-bell.

This is first raised to the shoulder and then pressed aloft, your eyes being all the time kept on the bar bell in the right hand. Still another exercise or practice is to load your bar bell up to such a weight as can be turned over to the shoulder, then let go with the left hand and twist the body into position for the press, and after holding the bar there for a second or two return to the ground. It is rea- sonable to suppose that if a man can press only 150 pounds with one hand, and he turns over and holds at the shoulder 224 pounds, when he returns to his 150-pound bell, he will handle it with greater ease, comfort, and assurance than he ever could do before, and he will eventually in this way reach a higher limit than if he always held in awe such a weight as 224 pounds, and he will further have a better idea of what 224 pounds really means if he handles the bell, than if he has to rely on his imagination when considering what can, and what cannot, be done with a 224-pound bar bell.