It’s hard for them – maybe you – to get your arms
straight up over your head –
You know – so your elbow is next to your ear.
Oh yeah, and with your head up, looking straight
ahead. Not tucking your chin in and looking at
(Man, if I had a dollar for every time I saw that
at an RKC / SFG…)
And that brings me to a question I got while on the
phone yesterday with Joe, one of my private coaching
He asked if it mattered if he changed his stance
after the clean on the clean and presses – you
know, bringing your feet in like you would if you
were going to squat.
I told him that I don’t, nor did he need to, but
he should make sure that he could still press with
his feet just under shoulder width as well as with
that wide clean stance.
Before I tell you – I want you to test this for
Stand up where you are.
Go ahead – excuse yourself and go to the bathroom
if you have to – probably better anyway cause there’s
a mirror so you can really see what’s going on…
Now take a wide sumo stance – like you would if you
were going to clean a pair of heavy KBs.
Now from that position, press your arms overhead
and notice how relatively easy that feels.
If you’re in front of a mirror, you’ll probably
notice that your elbows are straight and it’s fairly
easy to keep your arms perpendicular to the floor.
Now, drop your arms down and pull your feet in so
they’re just under your shoulders.
And do the same thing again with your arms – press
them overhead to the lockout.
How do they look?
If you’re like most of the “desk-bounded” then you’ll
find it harder to keep your elbows locked in this
position and harder to keep your arms perpendicular
to the floor.
What’s going on here?
Why the difference?
Well it all has to do with the way your body is wired
With a wide stance, you are shortening the muscles
of the hips and reducing the tension on the fascial
slings that connect the hips to the shoulders.
So it becomes easier to raise your arms up over your
The opposite is also true – when you put your feet
underneath your shoulders, you’re returning the
muscles of the hips to their normal resting position
which will increase the tension in the fascial slings
that connect the hips to the shoulders – literally
“binding” the shoulders in place.
And that’s why it’s hard to lift your arms over your
head with elbows locked and arms perpendicular to the
So back to why you want to be able to press easily
from both positions -
And yeah, I know the word “health” isn’t as “sexy”
as the words “lean” and “strong” and “ripped” but
health is one of those things that – as the song says -
See, being strong is more than just being able to
hoist up them there “cattle-balls.”
Being strong is about having longevity too –
you want to 5, 10, even 20 years from now without
having to rely on medical technology to help you
(Nothing wrong with medicine, obviously, but it
should be there for when you really need it – like
a car accident or something like that – not because
you didn’t know how to maintain your own body.)
And if you’re lacking ranges of motion in your
shoulders, then they are essentially “unhealthy”
even though they may not hurt (yet).
Because they can’t do what they’re designed to do.
And when you let them stay this way and force them
to do what they cannot currently do into ranges of
motion they’ve lost, that’s when you get injured.
Makes sense, right?
Of course it does.
So what’s the “work around?”
How do you keep from trashing your shoulders?
The answer is actually two-fold:
1) Start working your Clean + Presses with that
Then work just your Presses with that wide base.
Then slowly – very slowly, start to work your feet
in – maybe an inch every other workout.
In the meantime, you’re working on #2 –
2) You’re busy working on specialized mobility
work for your hips, t-spine, and shoulders.
I’ve included what I think are the absolute best
drills to do this on pages 59-69 of “Kettelbell
I’ve placed them in the Jerk section but you would
do very well to include them into your Press and
Clean + Press practice.
That way, over the course of a few weeks, you’ll
be able to reclaim your shoulder mobility and
therefore your shoulder health.
That will make pressing a whole lot easier.
And by the time you get to the Push Press and the
Jerk, those shoulders will be feeling DYNO-MITE!
A lot better than they are now.
And the best part is, they’ll be STRONGER.
So hit that “work around” and recapture your lost
shoulder mobility here for healthier shoulders
and a bigger press.