5 Mistakes You’re Making with the Kettlebell Press
Sup man, in this post I'm gonna be breaking down the 5 mistakes you're making with the kettlebell press. If this is your first time here... this's the 3rd episode in the common kettlebell mistakes series.
The press is arguably -- pound-for-pound -- the best kettlebell exercise in your arsenal. In respect to building a foundation of strength, dropping body fat, building muscle, and... maximal strength.
If you're interested in speed, power, agility, and quickness... the kettlebell press sets the stage for the push press and jerk.
Before you can dive into the press, you need to have a solid understanding of the kettlebell clean. If you haven't read up -- and watched the video -- on the kettlebell clean, I recommend you do this first.
If you have, we can dive into the...
5 Mistakes You’re Making with the Kettlebell Press
Common Kettlebell Mistake #1: Cleaning Too High
This ties into the common kettlebell clean mistakes I mentioned earlier. Remember, the focus should be cleaning to the hip -- or at least near the hip.
If you focus on cleaning to the chest, this could pull your shoulder out of position. Why is this important?
Because now you have to course correct. Which means you're holding the bell longer. Which doesn't seem like a big deal if you're pressing a sub-maximal weight. But, it plays a HUGE role if you're pressing a heavier bell or trying to peak your press.
Focus on cleaning to the hip. Aim to clean the bell into the exact position needed to press.
Removing any unnecessary movements or corrections... preserving energy for a stronger press.
This allows you to achieve a vertical forearm as possible, and keeps your hand below your chin. The reason a vertical forearm and hand below the chin are critical to the press...
... leads us to...
Common Kettlebell Mistake #2: Not Getting in the "Press Rack"
In this post, I covered the difference between the press rack and jerk rack. And knowing when to use one over the other.
Not getting vertical... traps you into a disadvantageous position to press from. It changes the intended trajectory of the press (as you can see from the image).
A broken trajectory leads to one of two scenarios. 1.) You have to course correct and waste energy. 2.) You attempt to press from this position and lead with your shoulder... opening you up for potential injury. And again, wasting energy.
On the other hand... cleaning to a vertical forearm creates two positive scenarios.
1.) Aligns the joints of the knuckles, wrist, and elbow... creating the perfect environment for pressing.
2.) Allows you to become one with the kettlebell creating linkage with the lats and not leakage. Why is this important?
The better you can link your muscles together, the better and stronger your press will be. Not sure where I heard this but it's always stayed with me. "What wires together, fires together."
Common Kettlebell Mistake #3: Creating Downward Motion Before the Press
If you're prepping for the StrongFirst Level 2 certification... pay close attention to this common kettlebell mistake. One of the strength test requirements for men to become a StrongFirst certified level 2 instructor is... to press a kettlebell closest to 1/2 your bodyweight. (Women you must press a kettlebell closest to 1/3 their bodyweight.)
If you're creating downward motion before pressing, it's a FAIL. Another reason WHY cleaning to the hip is essential.
It prevents extra movement before the press (i.e., avoiding downward motion).
I think one of the primary reasons I see this downward motion before the press is... they're trying to pull the bell down to engage the lats and create a support shelf to press from.
While this isn't wrong and you definitely wanna engage the lats to support the press but...
... you wanna clean to the hip FIRST.
From there you're in a more optimal position to engage the lats, you conserve energy, and as a result... a stronger press.
Plus you'll pass your level 2 certification 😉!
Common Kettlebell Mistake #4: Losing Leverage with the Kettlebell
I talk about this often when I'm describing the principles of Jiu-Jitsu. To be effective in Jiu-Jitsu... you must understand the 2 driving principles of the gentle art... posture and positioning.
Strong posture allows you to get in the right position and gain the most leverage over your opponent... to execute a submission. As my first Jiu-Jitsu mentor puts it, "position before submission."
This always clicked with me and... it's made the difference in my ability to press -- and deadlift -- HEAVY (without a lot of volume and breaking my body down). You can apply the same 2 principles of Jiu-Jitsu to lifting weights.
If you lose leverage with the kettlebell... your press will suffer.
This is why common mistake #1 and #2 are critical. They address the "posture" aspect of the lift. And common mistake #3 keeps the kettlebell as close to your center of mass as possible... addressing the "positioning" aspect of the lift.
The more vertical your forearm is -- strong posture. And the more you align the kettlebell to your center of mass -- positioning.
The more leverage you gain over the kettlebell. Securing the execution of the lift.
Common Kettlebell Mistake #5: Not Owning the "Active Static"
This technique is also known as the "static stomp deadlift." But I've noticed people using it the wrong way.
You're not supposed to actually stomp the ground. This does nothing -- except psyche you up a little I guess. The intension is... to continue driving through the ground at the top of the lockout. Imagine you're standing in wet sand, if you did this right, you'd leave imprints of your feet in the sand.
The common mistake in the press is to pump out the presses as fast as you can to get through the set. Missing out on the benefits of the lockout... which is building structural integrity of the shoulder.
Focus on driving through the bell and the ceiling. You can also apply this cue to your getup, snatch, push press, and jerk.
Imagine two energy forces moving in opposite directions. One starting from the pit of your elbow irradiating through your fist.
The other is moving from the elbow pit and... irradiating into your shoulder keeping your connected -- and creating linkage.
Resulting in OWNING each rep of the press. And in the end, possessing a stronger press.
There you have it man.
5 mistakes you're making with the kettlebell press. Can you do me a favor?
Give these 5 cues a try and let me know which helps you out the most -- and which ones don't. Everyone is a little different and not all cues will help everyone.
So I'm curious which work best for you? Drop and comment and let me know.
P.S. - If you're looking for a program around the kettlebell press so you can put into action what you've learned from this post.
Check out, "Kettlebell Workout Snacks" below. I recommend the "803 Press Series" on pg. 16 & 17.