The press is the ultimate upper body KB strength marker.
So much so, a half bodyweight press (for men) has become
the standard for passing the StrongFirst Level 2 certification
Many men don’t meet that standard, no matter how hard
Here are SIX:
1. Their total body strength isn’t where it needs to be.
2. They train too hard focused on the weight of the KB in
their hand and not on the technique of the press.
3. They don’t train frequently enough with enough volume
to make the lift feel natural and borderline subconscious
4. Their clean is off and they can’t set up their press properly
5. They panic when the weight gets heavy and forget about
6. They have restrictions in ranges of motion due to movement
Let’s address the first 5 shall we?
We’ll leave the 6th for some other time.
1. Your total body strength isn’t where it needs to be.
To press half your body weight you have to be strong all over.
It’s not just pressing strength.
One of the best ways to increase your overall total body
strength is to use high tension total body movements.
Movements like the deadlift.
Or the Double KB Front Squat.
These exercises provide great systemic strength that you
just cannot gain from only pressing.
Every time I boost my squat or deadlift up, my whole body
Yours will too.
2. You train too hard focused on the weight of the KB in
your hand and not on the technique of the press.
Do you want to get stronger or just press more?
“Yes” is the correct answer.
You want to learn how to do both.
If you focus on the technique you will get stronger. The
problem is, you have to know what the technique is in
the first place.
You need to learn the positions your body needs to be
in – to turn it into a “pillar of power” – an immovable object
from which to press.
Furthermore, when you constantly go heavy, you can
burn out your nervous system.
They key to gaining strength is to only have frequent
exposures to heavy loads relative to your maximum.
3. You don’t train frequently enough with enough volume
to make the lift feel natural and borderline subconscious.
It is true that in order to press a lot, you must press a lot.
So once or twice a week, unless the volume of lifts on those
days are extraordinarily high, isn’t going to cut it. Especially
if you’re just pressing a single KB (as opposed to a pair).
Three days a week is probably the best, although you can
get away with more – 4 to 5 days a week – depending on
how you structure the volume.
When you do train frequently, you increase the number
of times you press, (duh) and therefore the number of
opportunities to practice your technique so it becomes
engrained in you – a part of you – borderline subconscious.
4. Your Clean is off and you can’t set up your press properly.
If you can’t efficiently get your clean into the rack and get
tight and stay tight, and sway back and forth or get knocked
back and lose your balance, you have no chance of a good
or even decent press.
The using the Clean to deliver the KBs to the rack ensures
you can set up that “pillar of power” on that first press –
especially if you’re doing repeat Clean and Presses.
So you need to get that Clean right.
5. You panic when the weight gets heavy and you forget
about your technique.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this at an certification
Lots of times.
Some weekends it was the norm.
What’s going on?
– A lack of technique focus when training, and therefore
a lack of technique ownership
– A lack of confidence in your technique, most likely due
to the previous point
– Failure to properly wave your loads in your training cycle
so you have the proper number of exposures to heavy
enough weight so your mind and body adapt
Ultimately, it comes down to points 1,2,3, and 4 really.
So how then do you train for a bigger press?
Lots of different ways like I mentioned.
I’d do the following:
1. Build up my total body strength with double KB Front
2. Learn how to press properly by turning your body into
a “pillar of power.” I like the double KB press for this.
(When my double press goes up, my single press goes
up. Not vice versa.)
3. Use a high frequency training program. Like I said, 3
days a week is about right for most people.
4. Practice then master the Clean.
How much strength can you gain on your press?
Here’s what happened to Grant Reibel from using the
Love Grant’s modesty.
That’s a BIG Win!