Push press

The learning sequence for overhead lifts moves from least to most dynamic and powerful: press, then push press, then jerk. The push press builds on the strict press (see CFJ issue 62) by tapping into the power of the hips and legs to help propel the weight overhead.

1. Start by cleaning two kettlebells to the rack position (photo 9).

2. Unlock your knees and hips to dip slightly, keeping your torso upright and the kettlebells firmly racked. Your knees will move slightly forward but not past the toes (photo 10).

3. Powerfully push the floor away, extending your legs and hips, and open your chest. It is this explosive movement that will propel the kettlebells overhead. Note that the legs will then straighten powerfully, but there is no rebend, or "double dip," in the push press when you drive the kettlebells overhead (photo 11).

4. The arms move straight up from the rack. There is no need to rotate your palms forward as your arms extend. As the kettlebell passes eye level push your chest slightly forward. As your chest moves forward, keep your knees locked and do not bend them until it's time to lower the kettlebell. Be sure your knees and elbows are straight at the termination of the lift.

5. Lower the kettlebell back to the rack position. This should take a minimal amount of muscle or energy. Think of it as more of a controlled fall and catch. Unlock your elbows and slightly lean your upper body rearward. Tighten your abs just before your triceps touch your ribcage. As contact is made, absorb the impact by bending your knees and exhaling a little bit of air (photo 12). This helps facilitate a much softer landing, and it gets you into the right position to immediately perform another rep.

A great way to practice the push press is to perform as many strict overhead presses as possible. When you come to the point just before failure to complete the lift, switch to the push press and crank out as many reps as possible. This forces you to use the power from your legs. If you don't, the weight will never make it overhead to lock out.

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Kettlebell Advantage

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