What it feels like to lift 150 pounds with one hand

by Arthur Saxon

Arthur Saxon demonstrating the proper technique for the Bent Press.

I have often been asked what it feels like to press 350 lbs. with one hand, and perhaps to my readers the different sensations experienced will be interesting. In the first place, immediately I start to press the weight away from the shoulder I become perfectly oblivious to everything except the weight that I am lifting. The spectators are obliterated from my mind by the effort of intense concentration which is necessary to enable me to press the weight. I immediately engage myself in a terrific struggle in which the weight and I are competitors, and only one can win, either the weight must be lifted or else I fail. This concentration is, of course, one of the secrets of success in lifting. It enables me to bring forward the last ounce of pushing power, and for the time being to exert strength beyond that normally possessed.

As the weight steadily rises aloft, perhaps half way it wavers, the balance alters, and I have immediately, yet very carefully and quietly, to adjust my position to the altered balance of the bar. Then I proceed with the press, my body gradually falling lower towards the left knee, my eyes fixed all the time upon the ponderous weight balanced over my head, ready to fall at a moment’s notice should I weaken or place myself in a false position, and should at this moment anyone shout out, it might startle me, make me waver, and cause the weight to fall. Therefore, if I am attempting a world’s record in this position, I generally ask for complete silence until I have either failed or succeeded, and I might mention here that to think of failure is to fail, and always tell myself all the time that I am certain to succeed even though I am attempting a weight more than I have hitherto lifted. Eventually, my arm is straight, and before coming to an upright position I engage in another tussle with the enormous barbell, in which I have to exert all my will power to hold together the flagging powers of tired muscles, which have been strained by the tremendous pressure which 350 lbs. brings on to them in the effort of pressing aloft. By supreme effort of the will I fix the bell in a good position and then stand upright. Often the bar will roll on to the fingers instead of being directly over the wrist, in which case severe pain is inflicted, and I have to persevere with the lift under doubly hard conditions, or else drop the weight and try again.

Credit: The Development of Physical Power by Arthur Saxon

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