Arthur Saxon was a badass!

Arthur Saxon was a badass!

He put more weight overhead with a single arm the majority of people alive can lift off the ground with two hands.

In an old school lift called the bent press (not to be confused with the bench press) Saxon lifted 370 lbs. overhead with one arm.


Some of his other lifts include a 200 lb. one hand snatch, a military press of 252 lbs., and a one handed clean and jerk of 247 lbs.

As a performing strongman he and his brothers toured the world putting on many shows.

What was his secret? Well, its not really a secret, he just trained regularly in a progressive manner.

And he worked on a number of exercises that were popular in his day, that have virtually been forgotten today. Yet many of these lifts build insane amounts of strength, in ways that aren’t often replicated by most of the exercises you see in the gym.

If you want to become even stronger and more well-rounded you’d be wise to add some of these old time lifts into your routine. In this article we’ll be discussing three.

Bent Press

As already discussed this is a lift that, once practiced, would allow you to put more weight overhead with a single arm than any other way. But it is a very technical lift.

Another name for it is the screw press, because instead of really pressing the weight, you screw your body under it and then come to a standing position. In fact, this is more of a moving support than it is a press. The goal is not to press the weight at all but to “get under it”.

Get a barbell to one shoulder (this will be described more in the next exercise). It is helpful to have the barbell mostly parallel with your torso. The legs should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Start lowering your torso away from the barbell while keeping your upper arm glued to your lat.

As you lean away the angle of your arm opens up. At all times the forearm should be perpendicular to the ground. Your free hand goes to the knee to help support as you lower far until your arm completely straightens out. Once straight you can overhead squat, or windmill, into the top position with the weight locked out overhead.

In this video you’ll see me do it with 135 lbs. I actually end up slightly pressing it out near the bottom and thus could have done it a little better.

This lift can be done with dumbbells, kettlebells and any other tool. In fact, the kettlebell, because of its offset weight, makes it easier and is useful to get started with before trying a barbell. Did I mention this lift takes flexibility, and great balance, in addition to strength?

Shouldering a Barbell

To get the barbell into place for a bent press is an exercise in and of itself. This is easy when you’re working with something light, but once you handle a heavy weight, you’ll understand this is no joke.

Shouldering a barbell requires very strong torso strength. Below is one version of the exercise, of which there are two methods.

Stand a barbell on its end. Place your shoulder and one hand in the center of the barbell leaning into it. Assuming you’re going to your right shoulder, the right elbow is place against the hip. Place the other hand right next to the first hand. Bending at the hips and from the knees, heave the barbell into place as you bend backwards to get it into place.

This lift is also a favorite of strongman Steve Justa for building massive strength.

One Hand Dumbbell Jerk

In addition to barbells, Saxon worked a lot with dumbbells. Many of his lifts were explosive in nature. Although the Olympic Snatch and Clean & Jerk have remained popular as they’re used in competition over the years, many related lifts have fallen to the wayside. Included in these are various one hand barbell and dumbbell exercises. Here we’ll cover the jerk with a single dumbbell.

While the Olympic lifts require tons of practice to utilize the right flexibility and timing, most people will be able to handle one arm versions easier. That’s not to say great technique wouldn’t make you much better at these, because it would. It’s just they’re not practiced as much by many people. And any work with these exercises will make you stronger.

Clean a heavy dumbbell into place. If needed you can use two hands to get it to the shoulder. Allow the upper arm to rest against the body as much as possible. The elbow can also rest against the crest of the hip. Maintaining torso tightness, dip the legs then explosively drive them upwards. As the dumbbell travels overhead, dip the legs again slightly and catch the dumbbell overhead. Stand up straight with the weight overhead then lower it down safely (I generally use two hands for this part).

These one handed lifts are useful for their unilateral training effects. If you think about any sport, besides weightlifting, it is seldom that you move in straight lines with your body going with both limbs in the same direction. Thus, building explosive power one limb at a time is very helpful.

Give these lifts a try and see how you do in them. If you want a lot more detail on Arthur Saxon’s training methods, and tons more old school lifts then check out the Arthur Saxon Power Pack. As a special deal for you can get it for half off right now.

Logan Christopher has been called a physical culture renaissance man for his wide range of ability in various strength forms. He is a Master of Kettlebell Juggling, a performing strongman, having once pulled an 8,800 lb. firetruck by his hair, lifts heavy, does bodyweight training and hand balancing and much more. You can find more about him at http:///