A couple of weeks ago, I acquired another precious gem to my collection – “Health and Strength Annual” from 1958. In an article about so-called “Muscle Control,” the legendary strongman, boxer, and coach Thomas Inch wrote:

The tyro learning this lift always tenses or contracts his muscles immediately he has the bell at the shoulder. Which, of course, is all wrong!

He continues below in the section subtitled “Arthur Saxon’s Way”:

One of the secrets of the late Arthur Saxon’s enormous Bent Presses was that he relaxed his muscles as he leaned away from the bell. One gets so much further down that way, and the contraction of the arm and Latissimus, etc., comes in much later than the beginner ever realises.

Not only Saxon, but W. A. Pullum, the late W. Carquest, Nat Thewlis and myself (all specialists and record holders upon this particular lift) knew all about this style of ‚muscle control ‘and mastered it thoroughly.

– Thomas Inch, “Muscle Control,” in: Health and Strength Annual 1958, p. 85.

I have experimented with it, and I have to say that it works really well. The interplay of tension and relaxation, mobility and stability, at the right place and time, is a key to smooth (and HEAVY) lifts.

Give it a try, and let me know how it goes.

My long-term goal is a bodyweight Bent Press – let’s see how it goes. A book/ebook, online course, and live course Imperial Program Minimum (Snatch & Bent Press: kettlebell, dumbbell, and barbell!) are in the works. To be the first to know, please subscribe to the SIMPLEXSTRONG newsletter.

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