A Pressing Matter | StrongFirst

Most athletes know kettlebells have many advantages, particularly the ballistic abilities (e.g., the swing, snatch, and clear) that are nearly not possible to do with every other device. Nevertheless, what could also be much less recognized is that kettlebells give us the chance to enhance grinds in addition to develop energy within the course of.

A kind of grind actions is the kettlebell army press. The advantage of the kettlebell army press over the barbell army press is the power to do unilateral work, permitting for larger trunk stabilization and a extra pure urgent sample. In comparison with an overhead dumbbell press, the kettlebell army press requires a better stage of stabilization of the shoulder and trunk as a result of offset nature of the kettlebell. There’s, nonetheless, an issue encountered with kettlebells: the incremental jumps between sizes. As a result of the hole between every kettlebell dimension is normally a number of kilograms, it’s possible to hit some type of plateau for a protracted time period earlier than having the ability to bounce as much as the subsequent dimension. Protocols like “The Ceremony of Passage” and the StrongFirst on-line course “VICTORIOUS” have been designed to assist transition to a heavier kettlebell whereas enhancing urgent energy. I want to listing a few different methods that may additionally assist enhance varied points of the kettlebell army press and personal the transition to the subsequent kettlebell weight.

Technique #1: Altering the Base of Assist

A great press requires excellent construction. It’s not solely a matter of tightness, complete physique pressure, and trunk activation, but in addition ensuring there is no such thing as a leg motion concerned whereas urgent. When issues get heavy up prime, there’s a pure tendency to barely—generally unconsciously—use a little bit of leg drive to help the press. When this occurs, it turns into a push press as an alternative of a strict press, defeating the entire that means of the phrase “strict.” The next drills might help create most decrease physique pressure whereas enhancing trunk/spinal posture through the press.

Urgent in a half-kneeling place

This may be executed in a contralateral (urgent on the alternative aspect of the lunging leg) or an ipsilateral manner (urgent on the identical aspect of the lunging leg). Each choices supply completely different ranges of issue when it comes to stability and lateral stability.


  • The entrance decrease leg ought to be vertical.
  • The abs and glutes ought to be contracted to take care of a impartial backbone.
Pressing in half-kneeling position—contralateral
Half-kneeling press—contralateral
Pressing in half-kneeling position—ipsilateral
Half-kneeling press—ipsilateral

Urgent in a seated place

There are a number of choices for urgent in a seated place. They’re listed so as of issue:

  • Cross-legged sit
  • Z-sit
  • Pike sit

The cross-legged place could be very steady, the Z-sit place requires extra hip mobility and lateral stability, and the pike place ought to solely be used when you’ll be able to keep a impartial backbone from sacrum to neck. Engaged on these completely different seated positions helps combat the pure tendency to lean again whereas urgent as a result of they require robust inside bracing and postural alignment.


  • Work with a lighter kettlebell first.
  • Just be sure you work on all variations of those positions (left or proper leg in entrance within the cross-legged sit place, left aspect or proper aspect within the Z-sit place).
The crossed-leg sit press
Cross-legged sit press
The z-sit press
Z-sit press
The pike sit press
Pike sit press

Technique #2: Stabilizing the Shoulder Joint

A powerful shoulder must in the beginning be a steady shoulder. One strategy to obtain this purpose is to groove the press sample by difficult it from completely different angles.

Double kettlebell one-arm press (aka, the stacked press)

Urgent two kettlebells in the identical hand by stacking them is one strategy to intensify the load with out rising it. Not solely does the stacked press work grip energy, but it surely additionally modifications the middle of gravity making it tougher to press. In a nutshell, urgent a 20kg and an 8kg kettlebell in a single hand not solely feels heavier than simply urgent a 28kg kettlebell, however it is usually an excellent drill for individuals who don’t have an optimum wrist place whereas urgent. As well as, it’s a nice answer for somebody who doesn’t have heavier kettlebells.


  • To begin, make certain one kettlebell is so much smaller than the opposite.
  • A much bigger distinction in dimension will make it simpler to maintain each kettlebells in a single hand.
The stacked press overhead lockout
Stacked press

Instance of a Coaching Protocol

Let’s say a pupil hits a plateau and needs to press a 24kg kettlebell on either side. The appropriate arm is robust sufficient to press the 24kg however lacks stability. The left arm can solely press a 20kg kettlebell for reps.

Normal guidelines:

  • All of the work is completed utilizing a 16kg and a 20kg kettlebell.
  • Presses are solely skilled each different day.
  • Every coaching session incorporates some heavy presses and a few of the drills outlined above.
  • There’s loads of relaxation or energetic restoration between units of presses.

Session A:

  • 3 units of 5 presses on either side with a 20kg kettlebell
  • 5 units of 5 presses on either side with a 16kg kettlebell, altering the bottom of help (half-kneeling, tall kneeling, and so on.)

Session B:

  • 1 set of 5 presses on either side with a 16kg kettlebell
  • 1 set of 5 presses on either side with a 20kg kettlebell
  • 2 units of 4 kettlebell stacked presses on either side (ideally a 16kg and a 4kg kettlebell)
  • 2 units of 4 bottom-up presses on either side with a 16kg kettlebell
  • 1 set of 5 presses on either side with a 20kg kettlebell

Do not forget that these drills are solely designed as instruments to interrupt by a plateau. They’re steppingstones to a extra stable and well-rounded army kettlebell press (this will additionally work for the barbell army press). Urgent a heavy load overhead requires higher physique energy, shoulder mobility, and trunk stability. These drills are usually not meant for use as your mainstay press routine for an prolonged interval. Progress is normally comparatively sluggish and never having the ability to press a heavier kettlebell could be irritating. That is the explanation I take advantage of the urged drills with my college students. It helps them to interrupt a plateau and demonstrates that progress can take many varieties. In case your army press has hit a plateau, making use of these drills to your coaching will provide help to construct a stronger, extra steady press.

Vic Verdier
Vic Verdier has been a sports activities fanatic since his early age and an energetic teacher for greater than 35 years—having skilled over 3000 instructors worldwide. He first taught bodily coaching and different military-related actions as an officer within the French Commandos, and spent twenty years instructing cave diving on the highest stage, turning into one of many deepest explorers on the planet.

Vic is a self-defense teacher, a swimming coach, and an skilled energy and conditioning coach who has taught programs and seminars nearly everywhere in the world. Creator of greater than 200 sport-related articles and eight revealed books in English and French, he’s a MovNat Grasp Teacher and former Normal Supervisor of the corporate. He found hardstyle kettlebell coaching just a few years in the past and is now concerned in a number of tasks designed to enhance the instructing instruments utilized by StrongFirst Instructors. You will discover Vic at Kettlebility in Seattle, WA.

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