Thoughts on Bent Press and Side Press

So I’ve just begun seriously training Bent Press and Side Press and here my initial thoughts:

I’m not very good at either. Years of glorified bro workouts with periods of training to support powerlifting goals have made my muscles tighter than fingers in that fist over there.

At the same time, my core has gotten so weak that my hips have tightened up even more to help with stability. Both the laxity in my abdominal region and the tight hips are issues, especially because that weak core is a surefire ticket to that hernia my doctor warned me about a few years ago.

I know I said I would train it and I have but I’ve neglected the twisting function of my torso which would have not only solved that issue but made my current Bent Press and Side Press woes a thing of the past.

So I’m doing them now.

Here’s My Training Schedule

Stretching before training Bent Press and Side Press

Not sure if this is helping but it’s definitely entertaining one of us!

First of all, training these lifts means some dedicated mobility work along with doing some drills I learned from Tom Meehan’s interview with David Weck in the Home Gym Quarterly magazine. This has led to some funny moments in my home gym as my kids are only too eager to help Daddy stretch in exchange for hearing his groans of pain.

Second, The Bent Press has become a main lift during the training week, taking the place of the Standing Press for the next few months. My current Barbell Bent Press max is 95lbs and my best Barbell Side Press is about 100lbs. So working  from a Training Max as I do for all of my main lifts, brings me down to training Bent Press with between 60lbs for sets of five and 80lbs for triples. That brings me to my second observation about the Bent Press and Side Press.

Your Side Press is supposed to be LOWER than your Bent Press!

The problem is I was addressing both of them as lifts whereas, as Matt Randazzo, from Oldtime Strength reminded me, the Bent Press is more of a support lift. All of the work is supposed to be done through the actions of your hips and torso.

For now the Side Press is a more natural movement to me than the Bent Press so I’m using it as an assistance movement, sticking to the 60% range and I’m actually doing that with a kettlebell which is easier than a barbell and allows me to continue working after I challenge myself with the Barbell work in the beginning.

Last thought:

Keep Training No Matter What!This patio is now Bent Press and Side Press HQ

It was inevitable that as soon as I started this training cycle, I had to travel out of town to help my parents for a week. I’ll have limited access to a gym so I’ve converted my dad’s patio into a home gym away from home.  The barbell would have been too cumbersome to bring so I’m using a set of kettlebells to hammer Bent Press and Side Press daily. The weight is light enough to allow me to do that and the extra technique practice will hopefully pay off when I get back home.


About the author

John Greaves III is a writer based in North Georgia with nearly two decades of experience in training at home. A former amateur kickboxing champion, John now competes recreationally in powerlifting. He takes a physical culture approach to training; believing that strength and health need not be mutually exclusive. In addition to his nonfiction work, John has written two fiction books, A Different Kind of Giant and A Little Lesson in Manners that are available on



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