16 August 2010

Shit You've Never Tried Before #2- One Arm Barbell Clean and Press

First, a caveat- I didn't invent this shit, nor do I claim to have some hidden knowledge and gleaned this exercise from some book I prized from the hands of a dead monk on the top of a mountain in the wilds of Tibet.  I'm not Matt Furey.  He, by the way, got every last scintilla of information he's bestowed upon the strength training world from books you can get online here and here, rather than an esoteric, lost training manual handed down by a secret race of giant strongmen who inhabited Lemuria for the last thousand years.  In any event, here's an exercise you've likely never tried- the one arm barbell clean and press.

If I had killed everyone who'd ever asked me why I did this lift, I'd have more bodies in my crawlspace than John Wayne Gacy, only without all of the tremendously creepy clown pictures.  One, I do this exercise because it's fun, although I pretty much suck dogshit at it.  Two, I do it because it's a nice break from the regular shit I do, it's lighter, so it's easier on my body after 10 workouts in a week, and no one fucking does it.  Frankly, I'd much rather use this lift to build my biceps than the preacher bench- it's more fun, more anabolic, and a hell of a lot less womanly.  Say what you want about it, but the one arm clean and press is one manly fucking exercise, provided you're not doing it with a light kettlebell, Gym Jones-style.

This exercise used to be a mainstay in every lifter's arsenal, much like the one arm snatch, or like the cable crossover is now.  It was one of the reasons why old school lifters looked to be hard as nails, and the average gym goer looks about as tough as a pile of wet dogshit with a pink bow placed atop it.

Points of Reference (so you know how much you suck):
Milo Steinborn- 265 lb (with a jerk rather than a press)
Edward Aston- 250lb (with a jerk) at a bodyweight of 175
Kurt Saxon- 275 lb (with a bent press)
Hermann Saxon- 272 lb (with a bent press)
Maxick - 232 lb (with a jerk) at a bodyweight of 150
Hermann Goerner- 215 and 183 (with a jerk and a press, respectively)
George Hackenschmidt- 210 (with a jerk)

Everyone did this exercise back in the day, and they did it fucking well.  I've pulled off a right handed one arm clean and push press thing with 145 or 155 once or twice in my life, and I felt pretty fucking good about it.  I shouldn't- compared to Maxick, I'm barely even a fucking man.

As you can see from the descriptions above, there are essentially three ways to do this lift.  As people far better at this lift than I have written about it, I shall defer to their instructions.  Hilariously, this lift was at one time so well know that Maxick was hesitant even to describe how to do it(if you want to read his full book, and the writeup on this exercise, click that link).  It'd be like telling someone how to do a barbell curl, nowadays, so he didn't want to waste his time with it.  Maxick explained that you can do it one of two ways, by putting your elbow on your thigh, or your forearm on your thigh.  You grab the bar in the center, stand up, hard, and then duck your elbow quickly underneath the weight using your leg as a lever to support the weight. You then either put your elbow on your thigh or pull it in tight to your waist, and prepare to push it aloft using one of the three pressing methods.

I'm not even going to try to explain how to bent press, and I don't really understand the explanations I've read, and I've no interest in spending the necessary time to figure it out (Saxon's description is linked).  As such, there are essentially two other ways to get the weight up- with a jerk, and with a press.  Either way, the weight should be held with a neutral grip for this, so your palm is facing the side of your head.  Thereafter, you're either going to "jump" it up with a jerk or press it strictly.  I'll tell you this- if you have weak wrists, there's no fucking way in hell you're doing a one-handed jerk, and if you attempt it, you're definitely fucking your wrist harder than Nick Manning's ever fucked any whore, in the history of forever.  Unfortunately, the only load you're going to be dropping is the weight on your foot after your wrist collapses and you smack yourself in the temple.  I speak from experience.
Dropping fucking loads.

What have we learned?  We are all made to look like a pack of fucking poofters compared to old school strongmen in loincloths and those weird Roman boots.  Even at our best, we about as manly as Richard Simmons happily frolicking through a forest of massive, tumescent cocks while wearing a pink tutu and singing a song about picking daisies in comparison with lifters of a bygone era.  As such, perhaps it's time to pass on some curls and get down to the business of doing weird lifts with heavy-ass weight.  That, or join Mr Simmons in the aforementioned scenario.  Your choice.


  1. hmm. I do these with the overhand grip...I can see how and underhand grip will get more bicep action in.


  2. Nice write-up. I have relatively weak wrists at the moment, so I think I'll work on my regular press a little more before I attempt this lift.

  3. Nice post Jamie

    I'm fairly disappointed that you have no desire on how to learn the bent press. I've read Saxon's descriptions many times but I'm still not confident to attempt a heavy single - ah well maybe in a future post...

  4. One-hand barbell lifts of all kinds induce a degree of awkwardness that makes them very effective for developing balance, coordination and midsection strength. IOW, they're good for you. I can't imagine one of those old-time badasses ever doing crunches, can you?

  5. You sound like you're a member of the Charles Manson family book club. HP Blavatsky? I never would have thought.

  6. Madame Blavatsky was one hilarious fat broad. I was interested to discover recently that the Theosophical Society still exists. I thought that shit was deader than Elvis.

  7. Good shit as usual man. Was wondering if in the future you could blog about your opinion on weight gain. Since adopting keto and heavier frequent training i've leaned right out to single digits which is clearly awesome but was wondering what your take would be on the most effective way of muscle gain without becoming a fat fuck as i had enough of that shit doing stuff like rippetoes etc.

  8. If you became a fat fuck on Rippetoes you either have a very low threshold for "fatfuckness" or you did it wrong.

    Anywho, I have a quick question Jamie. I know you view perfect form as wasteful sacrilege, but can you give a few things you think about form-wise when squatting, deadlifting, bench pressing...just curious.

  9. Thanks for the suggestions, guys. I'll get those into the next couple of blogs.

  10. Not so much i turned into a blob but being new to training and being skinny all my life i blindly followed his advice like a retard doing the whole gallon of milk etc and i got more blubbery than i would of like even if the strength gains were decent.

  11. GOMAD = explosion in the toilet

    That shit is evil, even with fucking Lactase pills and antacid and pepto.

    I took a dump one time and it was covered in blood.

  12. My body adjusted to it just fine, and I thought I was lactose intolerant. I can still fit a size 32 pants, and the measurement around my abdomen at the bellybutton is only 34".

    Then again, I did GOMAD with a C&P'd westside routine I contrived for myself.

    You should smack talk Crowley next, or maybe go after David Myatt. The latter would make a helluva matchup.

  13. Awesome hooligan song:


    Also, great post Jaime!

  14. Wow. Bent press is easy. you pretty much just lean over and straighten your arm at the same time. so your not really pressing it overhead your leaning over and holding it overhead. Once your arm is locked you straighten yourself out again with a shit ton of weight safely over your head.

  15. Jamie, any chance of you posting a vid of yourself doing that one-arm c&p as demonstrated in those snapshots? I'd heard of the one-arm version, but never using that curl grip style. Thanks...

  16. I haven't taken one, which is the reason behind posting the pics. Frankly, I doubt my form is anything to emulate.

  17. Tried these yesterday. My left wrist was substantially weaker than my right, preventing me from doing the press with the left arm at higher weights.

    6:43 AM Anonymous, they're not that hard. Grab bar, stand up fast, drop down and curl elbow under bar, stand up, press.

  18. So where has Dracoy been? I miss his raps.

  19. Remember: he didn't ask for the title, he earned it.

  20. Weird how your one arm clean and push/jerk sucks compared to those guys. It's probably just lack of practice, you can definitely squat more than any of them and strict press more than most of them.

  21. I'd chalk it up to a lot of not practicing this lift, but I'm not really in the business of making excuses for poor performances. I guess I'll have to get on top of it and get good at this fucking thing.

    As for that B4B song, I really only liked Revenge on Society- they're not all that super awesome to me.