How to do a Kettlebell Press

What is a Kettlebell Press?

The Kettlebell Press is a strength movement that presses the kettlebell directly overhead. It requires strength and balance, and like the Get-Up, a sense of comfort with a heavy iron object directly over your head. You will need to clean the kettlebell first before you press it, which makes this a full-body movement. 

The Kettlebell Press (with the clean) is a full-body exercise with an emphasis on the following muscle groups:

  • Core
  • Back
  • Biceps
  • Shoulders
  • Legs

How to Do a Kettlebell Press (Instructions):

The Clean
Start with the kettlebell about 6-12 inches in front of you. Stand with your feet forward, placed a little more than shoulder width apart. As you inhale, “deadlift down” by bending at your hips, with your knees are slightly bent, until you are in a deadlift position with both hands on the kettlebell.
As you inhale, hike the bell back between your legs as if you were starting a one-hand swing. As you stand up, exhale, and raise the bell up towards your chest, keeping the bell close to your chest. As you reach your chest level, “punch through” the kettlebell handle with your right hand, which will prevent you from slamming your wrist with the kettlebell. “Rack” the kettlebell by resting it on your bent forearm, bicep, and chest.
“The Press”
Inhale while holding the kettlebell in the racked position. As you exhale, press the kettlebell up and towards the ceiling with your right hand. Tighten your core while you press the bell up, and mentally, think about pushing the kettlebell away from your feet instead of thinking about pressing the kettlebell to the sky.
Make a fist with your left hand and flag it out away from your body for balance. As you press the kettlebell towards the ceiling, keep a straight wrist with your right hand, and end with your right bicep up by your ear. Inhale, and return the kettlebell to the racked position, and set the bell down in the same way you would set the clean down.
Repeat on the other hand. 

Trainer Tips for the Kettlebell Press: 

  • Progression (make harder)
    • Increase your rep count. 
    • Hold the press at the top of the movement for a few breaths. 
    • Take a few steps at the top of the movement. 
    • Try squatting at the top of the movement. This takes a lot of shoulder and pelvic flexibility, so start slowly here. 
    • Use a heavier weight. Scale up in 8kg increments (16kg, 24kg, 32kg, etc…)
      • Be careful going heavy with the press too soon. 
  • Regression (make easier)
    • Use a lighter weight.
    • Lower your repetition count. 
    • As you press the bell with one hand, use the other to support the bottom of the kettlebell. 
  • Tips & Application:
    • When you press the kettlebell, think about pressing your feet away from the kettlebell instead of pressing the kettlebell away from your feet. This centers your core and ensures your feet are planted firmly. 
    • Presses are a great strengthening exercise. Once you have the form down, stick with a weight until it becomes easy. This might take a few months, but don’t rush into moving up with weight, otherwise you risk a shoulder injury. 

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