Strongman Martins Licis On Bent Press Technique, Training, and Benefits

The 2019 World’s Strongest Man shares tips for you to try.

If you follow Martins Licis’ social media and YouTube channel, then you know that he trains with more than your typical strongman lifts. His focus on different exercises is why he may be so efficient with his form during contests. Hafthor Bjornsson has even referred to him as “the best technical strongman in the sport.” You may have read recently that he has been working Zombie Squats into his training. Another unique exercise he incorporates is the Bent Press, a one-arm pressing variation made famous by strength pioneer Arthur Saxon

Licis explains why he personally benefits from the movement. “I like this exercise because it helps me with mobility, stability, and flexibility. It also makes a great accessory exercise for the Circus Dumbbell.”

Bent Press Form

When you see Licis performing the bent press, you may notice how far that he can bend over while hoisting the weight up. That’s because he has a lot of experience and practice. He cautions people new to this lift that you shouldn’t expect to do it the way he does.

“You’re only allowed what the body will give you. So don’t think you’ll be able to bend over the way I do. You could expect maybe a third of the way down, but that’s ok. Start with that and work at it. If you try to force it, you will probably get injured. Keep stretching and working on your flexibility too, even when you’re not doing the lift.”

Licis has excelled in the movement, having lifted a top weight of 205 pounds. However, he knows that this isn’t an exercise to be taken lightly. So even the World’s Strongest Man will begin using an empty barbell when he is warming up.

“I have to work my way up to whatever my top weight is. So even I start with an empty bar. I think any average strength lifter could begin with a barbell and slowly work up. Keep working at it until you can do around 10 reps. Then you can start adding weight.”

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Bringing back the old school lifts! @drjantodd and I are in search for the heaviest (modern day) record. Arthur Saxon is known to have the bent press World Record at 371lbs (168kg) from the dinosaur ages…. that’s crazy weight to wrap my mind around. There were of course no videos of it, so I have a hard time believing it. My best had been 200lbs, and I’m sure with actual, focused, training I can get it much heavier. I’ve heard of someone doing 275lbs with this, but haven’t been able to find a video of it. 🤔 — On another note, check out @barbellapparel ! Right now they’re having the biggest sale of the YEAR for a limited time! $99 for ANY cut of pants 😎👊 – Recently I posted a video of me squatting comfortably in their jeans! Definitely worthy pants for meaty thighs. @roguefitness @sbd.usa @sbdapparel @barbellapparel @reignbodyfuel @romarkweiss @oddhaugen @probodycoach @henrypenzi #SBDApparel #SBDUSA #ROGUE #RogueFitness #BarbellApparel #NathanPayton #Reign #Strongman #Weightlifting #Powerlifting #BeALegend #MARTINS

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Bent Press Accessory Lifts

Like the strongman movements themselves, you can use other movements to serve as accessories for the Bent Press. There are two that he recommends highly and feels should book-end your main lift. They are windmills and dips.

“I like doing windmills because it warms up my shoulders, helps me bend lower, and helps me focus on stabilizing myself. I would say start with these for around 8-10 reps per side for a few sets.”

When doing the windmills, you can start with a dumbbell or kettlebell if you feel a barbell isn’t enough. The focus should be on getting as low as you can without risking injury and keeping the arm with the weight stable. You can even start with half kneeling windmills if necessary.

As for the bodyweight dips, constant motion won’t help you much if you’re using it for strength. The two-time Arnold Santa Monica winner suggests taking your time.

“I like pausing at the bottom and feeling that stretch in the pecs and shoulders. You need to get used to that feeling. It will help you with the Bent Press as well as other exercises. Pause at the top too so you can squeeze the chest and triceps and strengthen your ability to hold that lockout. That will hold you while you’re pushing the bar to lockout when bent over.’

Bent Press Training

Once you get used to the movement and can do it correctly with a full range of motion, Licis suggests measuring your progress before taking the next steps in the bent press. 

“Sometimes I go up to 10 reps per side, but I feel like once you can do five correctly without any issues, then you can go up. That said, make the jumps small. Don’t risk getting hurt for a little more weight.”

The workout that he suggests below should be performed once a week. If you consistently follow his suggestions, you could see considerable improvements within a couple of months.

Exercise Sets and Reps

  • Windmills, 3-4 sets with 8-10 reps per side
  • Bent Press, 5 sets with 5 reps
  • Dips(Pause at top and bottom), 3 sets of 10 reps
    *Rest as needed between sets.

Featured Image: Instagram/martinslicis