Bert Elliott is a 178-pound athlete who was proclaimed twice as being California’s best lifter at his bodyweight. Bert has always liked the bent press lift and has faithfully kept at it throughout the years. He is 32 years old today and feels stronger than ever in this feat. He has several times bent pressed 280 and 290 but every time he has tried 300 or more, he loses the balance when standing erect. He presses the weight all right to stiff arm position but it is the standing erect that seems to be his mental and physical blockage. In fact, he once pressed to straight arm slightly over 300 pounds and on one special occasion made 315 pounds! But again was forced to drop the barbell upon the rise to erect posture. Yet that is why I have continuously proclaimed that Bert Elliott will one day soon accomplish that 300-pound bent press. He is practically sure of 280 and fairly sure of 290 pounds, so I deem it a safe bet that he will soon add 10 more pounds to make him one of the world’s marvels at his bodyweight. And when this feat has been done, you will be the first to read about it in the pages of this magazine, before any other, as I shall be the first one to learn of it, hence the scoop. Bert is very cooperative with me and therefore I depend upon his word and also have faith in his ability.

I was fortunate to get him to pose for a few photos showing the correct method of doing this bent press. If you study each one you will observe trivial things well worth knowing and which will help you.

First he stands erect with the bell. Next he starts the slight body twist and the bend; this continues until his body is bent downwards as far as needs be for his balance and control over his lifting muscles. After this final squatting posture is obtained and the lifting arm is stiff, then, and only then, can an erect position be resumed. The balancing then becomes the main requisite.

It is absolutely essential that the eyes are kept watching the center of the bell without blinking and deep concentration prevailing all the time. There must be that grit and determined constant thought, “I will lift it. I will make it!” 

The most important thing for a beginner is this, and bear this well in mind: When doing a bent press lift, there is absolutely no thought to be used in pushing the bell with arm power. The bell must remain at the same level in pushing as when it was first placed at shoulder height. The palm of the hand must face the head at this point, and the body must be pressed AWAY from the weight. Now get that: away and downward from the bell while no attempt must be made push upwards at the bell with the arm. It is really a balance lift and unless you maintain your absolute balance throughout the entire lift you will never do it correctly, nor will you ever be able to lift your best poundage.

Bert Elliot, Dumbbell Bent Press

Bert Elliot, one of the few men who practice the bent press. He illustrates his fine bent press form in these photos. The first picture shows him supporting the weight on the hip, which is turned for balance, as he begins to bend while keeping his eyes on the weight. In the second photo, he has lowered his body far enough to straighten the lifting arm while getting added support from the nonlifting arm. Third photo shows that he has dropped his hips under the weight in a full squat, still keeping his eyes on the weight, and from this position, he arises to complete the lift. Cecil Charles photos. 

The solid iron dumbbell that Bert Elliott is using to illustrate the correct pressing manner weighs 201 pounds and it is his “pet” training bell. It is harder to press a dumbbell than a barbell due to the latter having longer leverage and a stretched out balancing medium, hence if you wish to practice bent pressing, I suggest you try it with a barbell. You will never learn the feat without a fairly heavy weight (to yourself) with which to practice, as empty-handed to learn the form simply means the throwing of yourself off form and center of balance gravity. I advise you to use a barbell that would prove a fairly good effort for you. 

Practice and more practice is the only way you can eventually become proficient. If you lack the patience to master this lift you are going to lose a lot of fun and enjoyment as well as the extra benefit to your muscles that will make them much stronger.

If my own humble efforts may have any influence on a lot of fellows so they will get interested in this bent pressing, maybe it will start a new lifting fad and also break up some of the monotony of going through training the same old Olympic lifts. I insist that bet press will not retard any of the Olympic efforts, in fact, I am certain it will help make a fellow much stronger all around. One becomes stale by persisting at a few efforts all the time. He needs variation with his weights just as much as a body builder needs change in his routine. Anyway, think it over and let’s revise this bent stunt.

  • Earle Liederman, “Let’s Revive the Bent Press”, in: Strength and Health, May 1962.


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