top of page

“This’d Be Great For Building That Monkey Strength……”

“…….You know, getting Monkey Strong, not Powerlifter Strong”


This was the sentence uttered by Peter,  a private client yesterday when I had him doing an unfamiliar exercise.

And yes mate, I know exactly what you mean.

Monkey strong. We know our closest relative the chimpanzee is many many times stronger than us poor Homo Sapiens. But not only that, the Chimp is fast, agile and can cover fair distances over a variety of terrain and do it pretty fast. I don’t have exact figures, pretty much everything I know about chimps comes from the Planet of the Apes movies and David Attenborough shows.

David Attenborough and the Rwandan Gorillas.

David Attenborough and the Rwandan Gorillas.

But they’re strong.

And this seems to be what Peter was getting at.

He’s been around, he’s done the gym, he’s done BJJ and now he’s dealing with an ageing body that no longer wants to do all the things his mind thinks it still can. His shoulders are bollixed and his hip is fighting off the arthritis.

But he’s determined to grow old disgracefully. My job is to help him.

So we had him working some pressing strength. Not easy with shoulders like his.

But there’s an exercise that may not build absolute maximal strength, like the type displayed by power lifters, but will build “monkey strength”

It’s called the Half Kneeling Angled Barbell Press.

Jam one end of a bar into the corner, or a landmine jobbie or as I do, an old car tyre. Load the other end. Get down on one knee, the loaded end of the bar held at that same side. Squeeze your glute for all it’s worth, lift the chest up, anchor the shoulder down and press that bar out.

Here’s my Canadian buddy Adrian Crowe doing some Angle BB Pressing: [youtube]

That’s the angle barbell press.

It’s easy on dodgy shoulders if you’re strict while still allowing significant loading. It asks a lot of assistance from the abdominals and glutes. It puts some length into the hip flexors.

It pretty much ties together the entire torso, training it to act as a unit. Which is where the “monkey strength” reference came from I guess.

I use angle barbell work a lot with my fighters, their shoulders need to be taken care of and integrated “monkey strength” is far more important than simple, bilateral maximal strength like in a bench press. In fact I feature it in the Fighting Back eBook aimed at the BJJ community.

Click the image for more info

Click the image for more info

I highly recommend you try this lift.


Dave Hedges

If you’re interested in my classes / private training, CLICK HERE

Kettlebell and other workshops, CLICK HERE

73 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page