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What Are Kettlebell Presses

author
Daniel Brown
• Wednesday, 18 November, 2020
• 5 min read

With the weight of the bell resting against the back of your arm, a kettle bell is always trying to pull you out of your groove and into a potentially dangerous position. I’ve always thought of this as a two-for-one bonus deal kind of thing because it means when I press a kettle bell I am getting a great shoulder stability workout as my rotator cuff has to work overtime to counteract these forces.

kettlebell press arm arnold bell kettle exercises shoulder menshealth exercise health helth
(Source: www.menshealth.co.uk)

Contents

So step one in a successful heavy press is a solid and consistent clean. One of the biggest mistakes I see people make as they bell arrives in the rack is to let it knock some air out of them.

Letting your forearm go out of vertical increases the torque at the shoulder if it goes backwards or causes your arm to be caved in by the bell lying on top of it. Because of the need to keep the forearm vertical the upper arm needs to open out a bit to allow this to happen.

It’s always funny to me that people understand that swings are a whole body exercise. But all of a sudden we get to the press, and they revert to their inner bodybuilder and think it’s a shoulder exercise.

Imagine trying to suck your shoulder blade on the working side down into the opposite hip pocket and keeping it there during the duration of the press. When trying to get my groove, particularly with a new bell, bigger than one I’ve been used to training with, I like to perform a bottoms up press with an appropriate sized bell that makes a single rep difficult.

I find this reminds me of good mechanics and how to develop tension. After a short break I go straight to my new bell and try to get that same feeling of tension and alignment.

press kettlebell military depositphotos
(Source: depositphotos.com)

The single rep gives you a high level of neural activation and actually makes completing a set of five immediately after easier, allowing you to use a heavier weight which in turn leads to more strength and muscle gain. If you follow the drills above and take your time you’ll build a strong press and an upper body to make Sand ow jealous.

The kettle bell press is a popular workout technique used to strengthen and build muscle in your deltoid, upper pectorals, and triceps. Every well-balanced training program should incorporate an overhead press in some manner, and kettle bells are a great piece of equipment to utilize in your workout.

In their training experience, Mike and Justin have seen a number of people fail to maximize the use of their muscles and put themselves at risk by using the incorrect form. Justin notes that some bodybuilders perform a “half-press,” in which the arm is only half-extended above the head, in an attempt to better isolate certain muscles, but this variation is not necessary and may even be less effective overall.

By utilizing the correct form for your press, you not only work these muscle groups but you also generate a safer movement that reduces the risk of injury. In the video, you will note that Mike demonstrates two different pressing angles that he recommends, which allows the kettle bell to remain stable throughout the movement.

Although this is the standard position, you also have a range of angles you can place your arm in that isolate different parts of the upper body and allow you to perform more repetitions. When I learned the nuances of this movement, I can’t tell you how much of a difference it made, not only in my pressing strength, but in my overall shoulder health.

press military kettlebell exercise health
(Source: www.menshealth.co.uk)

I’ll explain this movement’s unique distinctions so you can discover the key benefits, as I have. First, we need to address the prevalence of shoulder injuries with resistance exercise in general.

Soft tissue injuries (injuries to the rotator cuff, biceps tendon, and PEC major), acromioclavicular disorders, instability, dislocations, mobility restrictions, and nerve injuries can occur with strength training and have been reported in research on resistance exercise. However, the vast majority of strength-training related injuries can be avoided by focusing on proper techniques, improving muscle imbalances, maintaining or improving shoulder joint mobility, and avoiding stressful joint positions such as the high-five position (we’ll discuss this momentarily).

The kettle bell rack is a more optimal resting or starting position to press from. Finally, when pressing with the kettle bell, you are free to move and adjust the plane of motion, which is not as restrictive as with the barbell.

Believe me, I love overhead pressing with a barbell, but it is different from the more natural movement you can perform with the kettle bell. This is perhaps the single most important point and key distinction of the kettle bell press.

The plane of the scapula (POS) is the normal resting position of the scapula on the posterior aspect of the rib cage (the shoulder blade resting on the back of the ribs). The scapula (shoulder blade) sits in a position that is approximately 30 to 45 degrees anterior to the frontal plane.

kettlebell press arm single shoulder bottoms workouts exercises muscle shoulders fitness
(Source: www.muscleandfitness.com)

In other words, your shoulder is in an optimal position when you raise your arm (or in this case, perform a press). The natural resting position of the scapula, which is 30 to 45 degrees anterior to the frontal plane.

Soft tissue injuries, such as PEC major ruptures, have been reported to occur most often in the high-five position. This position also stresses other anterior structures and the capsule in the shoulder joint.

You use full-body tension to increase stability between the ground and the kettle bell (or any other tool) to generate more force production. Once again, you can certainly “wedge” with a barbell or a dumbbell, but the shape and design of the kettle bell make it different from the other tools.

This small difference enables a stronger and more efficient overhead press. These are the three key distinctions of the kettle bell press based on my own observations and experience.

The tool design, the natural movement in the plane of the scapula, and the wedging effect make the kettle bell press a unique variation. You can do anything you want, but it’s a lot more comfortable and efficient to press with a kettle bell compared to other tools.

kettlebell press military arm shoulder muscles benefits form technique seated workout proper forms stability borntoworkout
(Source: www.borntoworkout.com)

M. Older, et al. Shoulder Injuries Attributed To Resistance Training: A Brief Review,” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, June 2010, Volume 24, No 6, pp. Martin Kelly and William Clark, Orthopedic Therapy of the Shoulder.

Scott Marcella, MPT, CSS, SFG II, NFL, ISSN, Saw, CA CWC. With over thirty years of unique experiences, he currently coaches kettle bell and Weightlifting techniques to small groups in South Florida.

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Sources
1 breakingmuscle.com - https://breakingmuscle.com/fitness/how-to-do-the-perfect-kettlebell-press
2 www.kettlebellkings.com - https://www.kettlebellkings.com/the-kettlebell-press/
3 www.strongfirst.com - https://www.strongfirst.com/the-3-key-distinctions-of-the-kettlebell-press/