I love nothing more than heavy military presses. As a 5’3” female, I have successfully worked my way up to a 28kg kilogram , single arm military press (which is roughly a 62 pound lift with one arm, which is nearly half my body weight). I have this whole heavy pressing thing down to a science, and today, I want to reveal all this science for those of you looking to increase their upper body strength and become a force to be reckoned with. Here are the three steps you need to take to increase your pressing power!
Step 1. Create Maximal Tension.
If you want to press heavy, you’re going to have to generate enough full body tension to a) sustain the weight itself and b) generate enough power to press the bell upward. There is a principle we are taught as lifters called the “cylinder of strength”. Most of the tension you need to create is going to be centered from your core down to the bottoms of your feet. First up, make sure you get maximal contractions out of your glutes. You should notice that this causes your abs to tense by default. You will want to maintain a narrow stance as you clean your kettlebell upward into the racked position. From there, maintain what I’m going to call a “Standing plank” and get ready to press up. What you may want to do is practice hardstyle planks on the ground a few times a week to get in the habit of generating this sort of tension. Trust me, you don’t want to be too loose in your press stance, as it will cause a cascading effect and you wont’ be able to move your arm upward. See the side by side photo below for more detail.
Step 2. BREATHE!
I am convinced that proper breathing is one of the most overlooked components of weight training. In my experience, I have found that the more we hold our breathes, the LESS LIKELY we are able to lift something heavy. True, we do generally hold our breathe when creating tension, but if we don’t pull the trigger on our loaded gun, the bullet (or in this case our kettlebell) isn’t going to go anywhere. Once you have created the maximum amount of tension, you are going to want a slow exhalation as you press the ketltebell upward. This actually creates a very minute relaxation response in the body which is just enough of what you need to allow you muscles to move. Tension is good, but too much means you’re not moving. Take a look at the video below and listen to the breathing technique I use here on a lighter kettlebell.
Step 3. Push Your Feet Down into the Ground
Pro tip, visualizing yourself pushing your feet into the ground actually makes your press easier. It gets back to the whole tension bit. As you begin to execute your press, your going to want to visualize pushing your feet downward into the ground. This will cause your quads to tense which adds to the tension into your glutes and abs. I often tell my clients that you want to visualize pushing your feet hard into the ground as if you are leaving ian imprint on the floor. It’s as if you are moving out of the way of your kettlebell, not just pushing it upward. Trust me, this works!
Now, lets put this all together on a heavy press such as the 26kg itself. Watch the video below and see how we stack all of these steps together for a truly epic press.
I hope this blog post was helpful for you heavy pressers out there! Give this a go and let me know how you do! I would love to hear your feed back!
Until next time. . .
Master your instincts!