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Mastering The Kettlebell Press

Mastering The Kettlebell Press

When it comes to selecting a lift to complete an intelligently designed strength program I’m a firm believer in looking at the kettlebell press. This is a lift that is unique in it’s own way simply because of the awkward nature that it presents to every respected lifter. Today I want to take a moment to dive a little deeper into the details of the press.

The Challenge

Overhead pressing of anykind can be a challenge for many people, but when it comes to pressing the kettlebell this is absolutely the case. Pressing involves a great deal more technique than meets the eye and today I want to steer the BRF blog in the direction to examine this a little closer.

Perfecting The Press

First of all, when it comes to pressing the kettlebell it’s an awkward as hell experience. The reason for this simply has to do with its design. Because the kettlebell is a sphere at the base instead of being a weight that fits securely balanced into the center of the hand it naturally creates a challenge in terms of stabilization for us.

Because we have to fight to stabilize the kettlebell by keeping the sphere in a constant state of balance the kettlebell will tend to exert and challenge us in ways that other free weighted implements don’t. This is what makes pressing the kettlebell so challenging, but even so there is still a technical side to kettlebell pressing that many may not be aware of… and it starts with the grip.


The Benefits

Pressing the kettlebell definitely has it’s challenges and it’s because of those challenges that we derive the killer benefits. After all, anything in life worth pursuing can present its challenges. The kettlebell press is no different.

One of the more immediate benefits to the kettlebell press is the fact that in order to perform the press we must do so from the racked position. Because of this it gives us a fist below chin starting point which automatically starts us out in performing the movement in a big ROM. A bigger ROM means stronger shoulders.

In addition to this the kettlebell press must be performed in a manner that encourages a more fluid type of movement. In pressing the kettlebell the shoulder must move throughout the pressing ROM much like a snake in a circular pattern as the shoulder moves the bell overhead.

Once again you can see that in both videos I’m stressing the importance of the handle position of the bell being placed diagonally in the hand instead of horizontally. This is a very important detail in that it allows us to better control and feel where the bell should be positioned during the pressing action.

The fluid movement involved in the kettlebell press is great for teaching us a lesson in human movement. Yes, with our muscles and bones we’re all just basically made up of a bunch of levers and pulleys, but we’re the most complex system of such technology.

Not everything is rigid when it comes to human movement or we’d all be moving like Robocop. Ok, maybe there are several folks that move that way, but you get my point. In other words, there should be a seamless and natural flow to moving our bodies and when moving external loads for the purpose of effective lifting.

Additionally when performing the press the technique of doing so also demands that we build significant tension throughout the torso. When starting we must crush the grip handle and begin the press by creating intrathoracic pressure as we ascend the bell into the overhead position. Even though we’re tense we must still move our bodies along with and into the press to make the lift smooth and seamless as shown in the video.

Werewolf Legend Bell

Creating the necessary tension in order to pull this off means that we must implement a sound breathing technique that is referred to as breathing behind the shield. This technique involves us learning how to implement a low level breathing while maintaining significant tension throughout the torso during an exerting lift. When doing this we should have the sensation of bracing our bodies for impact. Imagine you’re about to take a hit to the stomach.

On one hand we are producing great tension, but NOT holding our breath. We’re breathing, but doing so while creating tension throughout the torso as a protective mechanism to give us support during high level exertion. This is breathing behind the shield and pressing the kettlebell is a great way to learn to emphasize this technique.

Kettlebell pressing…and kettlebell training in general is a great implement to include in our strength and conditioning programs because of the unique skills that this tool demands from us. The process of learning to press and lift the kettlebell in various ways demands that we develop a high level of kinesthetic awareness which in turn makes us better functioning individuals.

This is the height of physical intelligence. I hope you enjoyed today’s article and if so then please don’t be shy about posting up in the comments below. Also don’t forget to get your own custom WellPath Solution blend here below with the BRF discount.

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I'm a Certified Strength And Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and author. I have had over 17 years experience in MMA fitness, strength and conditoning, and athletic performance for most every sport. As an author and specialist I've written close to a million words on fitness and strength. I'm also a Muay Thai practictioner and enjoy helping others to reach their peak potential through fitness and performance.

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Brilliant post, Brandon! I completely agree that the greater ROM will obviously produce more strength and the kettlebell movement is sure to encourage a large range of movement! Would love to read some more posts on different exercises!

    1. Thanks so much for the feedback Kevin. Yes, one major benefit of kettlebell training is the emphasis of ROM. In addition to that the stability factor for acquiring greater strength gains is also a major plus. It’s a win/win as far as getting the most out of something that is minimal in terms of its requirements. In other words, all you need is a single bell and some open floor space and you’re set as far as what you’re training session goes. Don’t be a stranger to the blog!

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