Improve Your Press Without Pressing

Over the past few weeks I've been really focusing on the fundamentals of my kettlebell practice.

I was doing a lot of pressing in the previous weeks. I'd press double KBs, press a single KB, I'd try to go for reps and I'd practice some heavy singles as well.

There's a Hardstyle saying that “In order to press a lot, you must press a lot”.

You can get a lot stronger with an approach like this. Not just from an overhead standpoint, but just by practicing tension can help you improve in other lifts as well.

There is a downside to pressing a lot though…You can get beat up pretty quickly. It's not overtraining, but if you don't cycle or wave your loads properly, pressing everyday – or almost everyday – can creep up and punch you in the arm (both literally and figuratively).

So there comes a time when you have to take a short break from pressing.

But how do you do that without sacrificing all the strength that you've built up in the press?

You go back to basics.

And go back to a fundamental overhead drill that will allow you not only to maintain your pressing strength, but develop resilience in your delicate shoulder joint.

That is, you substitute pressing for heavy get-ups.

In theory, the weight that you can dynamically move overhead – as in pressing – you should ideally be able to handle statically – as in holding it overhead for a get-up.

I'd even go so far as to say that an ideal situation is you being able to do get-ups with a kettlebell 1 or 2 sizes heavier than your max press.

Why? Because you are a lot stronger statically than you are dynamically.

Here's an example of what I mean…

Imagine that you're down on the ground in a push-up position.

Now imagine that I come along and start piling 45lb plates on your back and your job is to hold that position – not move, just hold that push-up/plank position as I start to pile plates on your back.

Chances are I could pile some significant weight on your back and you could hold it – statically – for a while and with significant control.

OK, so now do a push-up with all that weight on your back. Think you could do it? Probably not.

Why? Because we are now “leaking energy” and moving joints.

Statically, you could probably hold 135, 180, 225lbs on your back. But when asked to dynamically to move with that weight, it becomes a tall order.

So just like the Get-Up vs the Press (the Get-Up being a static hold for your shoulder joint and the Press being a dynamic movement for your shoulder joint), you – again hypothetically – could stabilize more over your head statically than you could press dynamically.

So if you can press a 36kg kettlebell, then you should be able to do get ups with that same 36kg and in a perfect world a 40kg.

In fact, doing reps of 36 & 40kg get-ups was what helped me press the 36kg to get my RKC Level 2 certification.

It was about my ability to get comfortable with a heavy weight overhead that strengthened my shoulder at various angles and made the 36kg press more acheivable…if only from a mental standpoint. (Which, I'm finding, is my biggest obstacle).

Now would I consistently do Get-Ups with a 36kg or 40kg kettlebell every training day of the week?


Here's how I would break down the week…

Monday (Medium Day)

1) Get-Up (doing singles for 1 per side using your pressing weight. Do this for density and see how many you can get in a 15 minute period).

2) Double Swings (because you have to do swings)

3) Ab work (Hardstyle planks, hanging leg raisies or reverse crunches)

Tuesday – Mobility work & technique practice (I'm working on Windmills and Bent Press technique right now) and maybe some chin-ups.

Wednesday (Heavy Day)

1) Deadlift or Trap Bar Deadlift (I like to use Jim Wendler's 5-3-1 Program – Go To to learn more)

2) Get-ups (same thing…singles but this time use a KB 1 size heavier than your pressing weight. Do this for density again and make sure you are maximizing your rest time).

Thursday – OFF

Friday (Light Day)

1) Get-Up (again for density but using 1 KB lighter than your pressing weight and focusing on technique).

2) Double Swings OR Deadlift Practice by doing 50-60% of your 1RM and standing on plates or using a lower handle to work range of motion).

3) Ab work (Hardstyle planks, hanging leg raises or reverse crunches)

Saturday – Same as Tuesday

Sunday – OFF

That would be my ideal week and has been for the past few weeks.

You may be thinking that the outline above may not be incorporating enough exercises or volume but I really do believe that less is more.

In fact, if you take a look at the main exercises involved – Get-Ups, Deadlifts & Swings (and all the ab work), then there isn't a movement pattern or training element that we don't address.

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think!



1 Comment

  • Reply February 26, 2013

    Harry Martinez Santiago

    All this exercite are fantasties. thanyou.chris seme me somethin that can help me get down my weight.

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