Bent Press - Instant Thoracic Mobility

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Wesker11

Level 6 Valued Member
Had a WTH moment with the bent press this morning. Most mornings I warm up with "flows". One of the movements in the flow has me taking a very wide stance then bending forward and putting both hands on the ground. From there I rotate my mid section and reach one hand up in the air while leaving the other on the ground. My rotation here has been pretty limited. I could not get my shoulders perpendicular to the floor.

I decided to mess around with some thoracic mobility exercises to see if I could gain some range of motion. Tried some rib pulls and bretzels. Retested and there was no change. Tried a bent press with a 10kg bell on both sides. Retested and all of the sudden I could get my shoulders perpendicular to the floor with ease. It was crazy how much more range I got from just a couple of reps with a light bell.

So long story short, I want to start practicing these again. I am currently running 531 and want to keep these light. I see no reason to go heavy if such a light bell gets me these kind of results. I was thinking about pairing these with the thoracic rotation stretch from "Relax Into Strectch". Would it be a good idea to superset these? 2-3 reps per side with a 10kg bell followed by 2 minute rotation stretch each side. Would this be ok or should I break these up? Bent press in morning, rotation stretch at night. I think this combo could really open up my thoracic rotation. Let me know what you think.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
@Wesker11, great to hear this. It sounds like you were in the right place to reap the benefits of the bent press - nice!

If what you're doing is working, don't mess with success except to load your bent press heavier when you can.

-S-
 

Kettlebelephant

Level 7 Valued Member
...maybe a person does not need to have the mobility first, but that the movement itself could build that mobility...
Quote about the bent press from Iron Tamer in an article by Craig Marker
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
I had nothing but frustration trying to do bent presses... until a few weeks after I started doing heavy snatches. I tried one a month or so ago after not even trying for many months, and was amazed that I could actually do it. Now I can get into rotated position and do the bent press without putting strain on my shoulder. So I guess I used the heavy snatch (many reps... Al C's A+A Plan 201) to open up the chest and shoulders (and T-spine? I don't actually know) to access the bent press... now I can use the bent press as a tool to warm up (with light weight) for snatches, work on pressing during a training session (moderate weight), or use at the end of a training session (light weight) to create more T-spine range of motion. And as most of us know, many good things come from a mobile T-spine!

Good work, @Wesker11. Thanks for sharing.
 

Wesker11

Level 6 Valued Member
@AnnaC, thanks Anna! Some other good finds this morning after a few bent presses. I've been doing shoulder dislocates with a stick and a 2-1/2 lb weight in the middle the past couple of months. I was able to move my hands in almost an inch from where I normally set them and take it back nice and slow with no popping in the shoulder joints. Good stuff!
 

DavThew

Level 6 Valued Member
@Anna C I found that doing snatches and bent presses as per the original program minimum made my chest feel more open and my shoulders better that pretty much anything else I'd tried in ages. I still do a few minutes of alternating snatches and bent presses if I've had a day with a lot of sitting.
 

JeffC

Level 7 Valued Member
That's why I strongly believe in pre workout stretching. You increase your range of motion, and strengthen the new end range. The flexibility for the bent press was challenging for me at first. I stretched, and gained positional strength, and pretty soon I was wedging under some pretty big weight.

I like the half kneeling progressions, heavy high low windmills, and the side pressing get ups the most for building positional strength. Also, a lot of heavy slow controlled paused bent arm bars.
 

Wesker11

Level 6 Valued Member
Found some more space today. Did some bent presses then followed up with 2 mins thoracic bridge stretch on a foam roller. Think I will alternate the two for a while.
 

JeffC

Level 7 Valued Member
@Wesker11 Have you tried loading the bent press heavy?

If you can do a solid bent press with light weight you can easily add weight. I was the opposite I needed heavier weight to push me into position, I could not do a solid bent press with light weight at first.
 

Wesker11

Level 6 Valued Member
I have in the past. I bought Iron Tamer's book when it first came out. I worked up to using a 24kg. I practiced a lot of his prep work for the bent press as well. Then I just stopped doing them. Not sure why, won't make that mistake again. :)
 

wespom9

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Quote about the bent press from Iron Tamer in an article by Craig Marker
I always used to question this... but no matter what shoulder/t-spine mobility drills I do, nothing makes my shoulders open up or feel better like 5-10 snatches with a 24.
 

JSStevens

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Had a WTH moment with the bent press this morning. ...
... Tried a bent press with a 10kg bell on both sides. Retested and all of the sudden I could get my shoulders perpendicular to the floor with ease. It was crazy how much more range I got from just a couple of reps with a light bell.
One thing you stumbled upon with your bent press is adding strength to your flexibility makes it more permanent.
When performed with an appropriate weight the bent press becomes both a stretching and strengthening move.
In my experience, immediately exploring, finding ways to use and add strength to a range of motion "cements" it in stone for a period of time. It essentially resets your brains idea of what is normal, safe and needed so it's not forgotten or discarded. Imagine stretching like learning a new language. If you just take a language class, but never use the language in real life... it's wasted & soon forgotten. Flexibility is similar. Once earned, it must be used and explored to be made permanent. This is why martial artists and ballet dancers stay flexible... because they use it! This is also one of the many reasons why Jon Engum's Flexible Steel WORKS so well... because it adds an element of strength to your flexibility training.


... I was thinking about pairing these with the thoracic rotation stretch from "Relax Into Stretch".
Would it be a good idea to superset these? 2-3 reps per side with a 10kg bell followed by 2 minute rotation stretch each side.
Would this be ok or should I break these up? Bent press in morning, rotation stretch at night. I think this combo could really open up my thoracic rotation. Let me know what you think.
Supersetting stretches and strength training is a GREAT way to improve your flexibility.
Something I love to do with students is just that with the exception of advancing the difficulty of the stretch with each set: starting a set easy, finish the set with a deeper stretch. Each set starts a little deeper that the previous set started and finishes a little deeper than previous set finished.

One thing that works well is alternating between a pair of complimentary stretches to more rapidly achieve your max safe range for the day, THEN add strength once there. For example I would alternate between overhead stretching and thoracic rotation for several sets, then once you've achieved a satisfactory range start practicing the bent press. Other great movements with benefits similar to the bent press are the crescent pushup, the crooked press and the armbar stretch.
 

JeffC

Level 7 Valued Member
@JSStevens I dedicated a lot of time, energy to the Bent Press, and could consistently wedge under pretty big weight. It took a lot of work to gain the flexibility, and strength. I had hardly trained it in months and I started the Bent Press again, two days ago, and it was humbling. I am pretty much back to square one. I hope the flexibility comes easier this time.

It is such a fun lift I really missed it. Maybe this time I will try to maintain my strength, while building technical proficiency, with barbell training a few times a week. Last time I lost a lot of strength while focusing on learning the bent press. I did bent and sinister almost daily with not much time for anything else.
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
In my experience, immediately exploring, finding ways to use and add strength to a range of motion "cements" it in stone for a period of time. It essentially resets your brains idea of what is normal, safe and needed so it's not forgotten or discarded. Imagine stretching like learning a new language. If you just take a language class, but never use the language in real life... it's wasted & soon forgotten. Flexibility is similar. Once earned, it must be used and explored to be made permanent. This is why martial artists and ballet dancers stay flexible... because they use it! This is also one of the many reasons why Jon Engum's Flexible Steel WORKS so well... because it adds an element of strength to your flexibility training.
I like this explanation.
 
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