T Nation

Bent Press = Back Pain?

I am interested in using the bent press in my workout , I want to have a powerful core to enhance striking power. But judging by the pics I have seen it looks like you bend and twist your back while performing them. Has anyone experienced back problems from this? My father and uncle have both had back surgery, but so far I seem to be fine (yay for youth). I want to avoid unnecessary destruction to my spine if at all possible. Thanks!

Not not at all, if you use good form and do them how your supposed to they will effectively blow you up. They have made me a lot more powerful.

I always incorporate Bent presses into my workout - they are awesome. You should not experience any back problems while doing them. If you are trying to increase striking power then you should include Bent press, full contact twist and some sledgehammer work. Oh and of course strength training.

Thanks for the info guys! Any advice on common mistakes people make when bent pressing? I want to make sure I have good form. I’m already a fan of the Full Contact Twist, but what exactly is sledgehammer work?

Make sure to “crease” at the hips.

Dan McVicker, RKC


The most obvious mistake is exactly what you stated before: Trying to bend down to the side WHILE twisting. This is probably the 2nd worst thing you can do to your spine. The movement should be purely lateral; in other words you are moving strictly side-to-side with no rotation of the spine whatsoever.

With regards to sledgehammer work, I would check out some of Dr. Mike Hartle’s articles at John Davies website. The sledge is great for developing all of the rotary muscles in the core.

Stay strong

ToShinDo, congratulations on being proactive about pain prevention! If you had an existing discogenic problem such as a bulging disc, some twisting movements may be harmful because of the increase in compression under load. Repeated compression under light loads can also cause spinal injuries. However, I have an existing back problem and am doing these bent presses without pain. For my rehab work, I use light weight, focus on stabilizing the spine, and improving muscular endurance. Yes, I know endurance is much-maligned around here, and I understand that. But current evidence points to lack of muscular endurance, not strength, as a cause of back injuries and pain.

Bottom line, for you, healthy and young, I think the bent press is a valuable exercise because it works oft-neglected and weaker core muscles. If your priority is injury prevention, consider endurance in all core stabilizers, not just strength.

Since you are interested in core work I thought I would mention that in addition to the Bent Press, you may wish to consider adding the following weighted movements Side Press, See-Saw Press, Windmill, Turkish Get-Up, Side Deadlift. There is a great deal of other movements / methodologies / that you can use with additional core work but that is a good start. BTW - assuming there is no existing medical condition I would also suggest that you add de-compression work (bar hangs) after any of this.

There are plenty of options if you wish to consider different equipment choics - so if you wish to talk about it just let me know.

In faith,

Coach Davies

Okay, I’ve been doing Side Presses for a little bit now and I feel that I have their form down well. Based on this, what is the difference between Side and Bent presses, i.e. what should I do to turn a side press into a bent press?