How to improve the King of the Lifts by the King of Bent Press, Arthur Saxon! Actually, his younger brother, Kurt. 

Following short paragraph comes from a very hard to find book Anvils, Horseshoes and Cannons: The History of Strongmen, Volume II, by Leo Gaudreau. I bought both volumes on Ebay – don’t ask for how much.

Kurt Saxon was a very good friend of Mr. Gaudreau, and has shared with him many good stories and important training tips.

Here are few interesting tips on the bent press. 

It is necessary to practice this lift (bent press) all the time; the main thing to start right is to get the barbell right in the center so that the barbell balances itself in the open hand.


Now comes the worst part of the bent-press: lay the body half-sideways and forward and keep your left forearm (lifting with the right arm) on your left thigh. Most lifters make the mistake of bending too far down and that is why they lose their balance and the weight drops forward.


The lifting arm always has to be a little backward. Now comes the easiest part of the lift: keep pushing with the lifting arm and dropping lower with the body until the arm is straight. The difficult part at this point is to properly lock the shoulder; this requires patience and care. When we had the shoulder locked we held the weight in this position a very long time in order to make sure of our balance.


We used to make about 30 attempts at each training session.

My notes:

  • To improve the bent press, practice daily. And “practice” is the important keyword.
  • Set up is crucial – barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, doesn’t matter.
  • Saxon’s recommends  to keep the non-lifting forearm on the thigh. I have also noticed that tensing the non-lifting arm’s pec and lat, and squeezing the fist helps me to maintain the lifting arm in correct position – and I have more strength. It prevents you to bend too low, and of course, it is a great help when raising up from the bottom position of the bent press.
  • Until the very last part of the lift on the way down, the lift is about patience and perfect technique – the last few inches, that’s the really hard part.
  • “When we had the shoulder locked we held the weight in this position a very long time in order to make sure of our balance” – I have done so in many other lifts, but not bent press. Interesting thing to play with.
  • Up to 30 lifts is a good daily volume. I recommend singles, doubles, and triples. As you are probably not making living by lifting heavy bells in circus, practice both your strong and stronger hand.

Photos: Kurt Saxon (left), Arthur Saxon (right)

EDIT: My Extra Tip


I am currently working on “Advanced Program Minimum” protocol – Simple & Sinister applied to the snatch and the bent press. If you want to be updated about this project, please subscribe to the newsletter, or follow any of our social media channels. More info very soon!

Yours in Health & Strength 

Pavel Macek

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