How To Master The Kettlebell Press
Overhead pressing should be a big part of any strength training regime. Here’s how to nail this shoulder-builder with the kettlebell
How To Do The Kettlebell Press
- Start with the kettlebell in the rack position (the end position of a clean).
- Make sure your elbow is tucked in to your chest, then press the weight directly up overhead.
- Lower the weight by reversing the bell path and repeat the move.
Expert tip “Many people get it wrong and let the bell travel too far out to the sides, which will limit the weight you can handle and the reps you can do,” says leading kettlebell coach Mike Mahler (opens in new tab). “Try to keep the bells in as straight a line as possible and avoid pressing out too far in front of your face. Press up and back so the bell locks out slightly behind your head. Make sure the bell handle is at a 45° angle pressing into your palm to help further the mind-body connection for the most efficient form possible.”
Variation: The Bottom-Up Kettlebell Press
If you want to get stronger, the obvious way is to pick up a heavier weight and try harder. But the smart way, says Mahler, is to use the same weight but perform a version of the exercise that’s more challenging, such as the bottom-up kettlebell press.
The bottom-up press isn’t just a show-off move. The extra challenge and instability encourages you to find the most efficient pressing path, which will help you when you want to go heavy in shoulder-building conventional kettlebell presses.
“If you do an exercise and you get to a point where it’s really easy for you, try doing a more challenging version,” says Mahler. “That way, rather than just getting better at the exercise but allowing your technique to get sloppy, you optimise your technique. For example, if a traditional one-arm kettlebell press where it is racked normally becomes really easy, you could do a bottom-up press, which is much harder. You could even do a stacked press, with the kettlebells on top of each other. Each of these kettlebell exercises reinforces the proper technique. When you have a strong foundation in technique, you can go into new weight territories and not worry about getting injured.”
Start by holding a kettlebell at chin height with your wrist straight and your elbow directly below your wrist. Press the weight directly overhead, then lower it slowly under control. If you can’t control the kettlebell, you either have weak wrists or are trying to press in an inefficient path. Reduce the weight to perfect the technique, then add weight once you can do a set of six presses.
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