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.
Through this lift you can make a better showing than with any other. You can easily learn to press a person weighing as much or more than yourself, and press other heavy objects as well as a barbell.
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.
I believe that the greatest mistake weight lifters have made is their ignoring of the Bent Press. There is no lift that calls forth the admiration of athletes as does this lift. It is more fascinating than any in the 40 odd lifts weight men have been practicing for the past 50 years, yet it is seen so little today that unless something is done to revive interest in the bent press it will soon be nothing but a faded memory.
The above photograph is the only one which has been published showing me with the bell at the shoulder in the act of pressing. In it I show how to take up a firm position with the feet, and it will be noticed that the right leg is straight contrary to the position generally assumed by the beginner attempting to learn the body press, and even by many a lifter who has had years of experience. In the photograph I show exactly where the elbow should be placed, and it does not require much imagination to gain a correct idea of how the body should fall in the downward direction.