Seriously.What is their deal?
What’s their purpose?
And why even bother to do them?
I think this email I got from Michael yesterday really
highlights some of the misunderstandings about or
around the Push Press.
“Hi Geoff, I can double press 24s but have trouble push
pressing 28s, should I push press 24s till I get strong
enough to push press 28s? Michael”
That’s a great question, Michael – thanks for writing
I think this question shows one of the fundamental
misunderstandings about the Push Press.
Traditionally speaking, the Push Press is used because
a) can’t press the weight so you “cheat” it up by using
your legs – so if you can’t press it, you push press it
b) it is a transition exercise to learning the Jerk
because it teaches you how to drive the weight up with
your legs and then engage your arms – or rather keep
pushing with your arms the whole time while initiating
with the legs
c) just a fantastic way to overload the shoulder girdle
musculature and the body as a whole at the same time –
Regardless, the Push Press is pretty easy to use.
However, Michael’s question shows the confusion surrounding
its use and purpose.
(No offense to you, Michael.)
So what’s the Push Press good for?
Well, as I already said, it’s good for 3 things:
1. Getting weight up that you can’t press
2. Learning the fundamentals of the Jerk
3. Overloading your body for strength or muscular
So back to Michael’s question – why can’t he Push Press
a pair of 28s and what should he do about it?
Simple, regardless of why he’s doing it, he (and you) –
You know what – let’s just make this easy – I’m going
to say “you” – that way I’m talking to Michael and you
and we’re all happy and unconfused.
You have to remember that the KEY to the Push Press is
to use the legs.
It’s what I call a “2-D” exercise.
The first D is “Dip” –
You hold the KBs in the rack and you dip STRAIGHT down –
Read that part again – STRAIGHT down – vertical torso –
You DO NOT lean back or hinge or stick your butt out.
Because then the KBs don’t go up they go forward.
Simple physics really – for every action there’s an
equal and opposite reaction.
You see this in Olympic lifting when guys miss the
Jerk. Same set up applies.
Trust me on this – you *might* be able to get away
with it with lighter KBs, especially if you’re strong,
but with heavier bells, especially when fatigued, it’ll
come back to haunt you either in your lower back or
in your shoulders.
The Dip looks like a 1/4 squat.
But it’s not slow.
That’s the second mistake people make.
It’s quick – which leads us then into the second D –
The second D – is the Drive – and this is what I think
you’re struggling with Michael simply because the jump
from 24s to 28s is not “that” big – especially if you’re
pressing the 24s for reps.
That is very likely because the first D – the Dip
is either to deep or too slow – or some combo of
The dip must be fast to set up the drive – the explosive
leg action – the straightening of the legs – to get
the KBs to move off the chest.
And without the 2D set up, the weights really go nowhere.
So, what to do next?
Well, practice a couple of reps with the 24s – a couple
of sets for a couple of reps.
Then go back to the 28s and give them a shot.
To get REALLY comfortable using the Push Press and
to fully derive all it’s wonderful benefits run through
the first phase (or all of the phases really) of the
“STRONG!” program inside “Kettlebell STRONG!.”
That reminds me – a really interesting way you could
try to get a pair of kettlebells to feel light is to
run through the “STRONG!” program “backwards” –
That is – take the first 24 workouts and repeat them
First time through, do it using Jerks.
Second time through, do it using the same weight but
do Push Presses.
Third time through, again, use the same weight, but do
This takes advantage of the old Iron Adage –
“If you can’t press it, push press it. If you can’t push
press it, jerk it.”
But remember, even though your whole body will be getting
stronger, you’ll still need to practice your Presses with
lighter weights because the groove is different.
Hope that all helps.
Bottom line is this: The Push Press is really a phenomenal
exercise and you should program it into your training
program every so often for extended periods of time.
Because it’ll make you stronger.
Do we really need any other reason?
P.S. I almost forgot – when you’re using KBs instead of
barbells, the Push Presses are more forgiving. That means
you don’t have to be as technically accurate.
And that means we can get away with doing some stuff that
you wouldn’t normally do with the barbell –
Those three things combined will really do wonders for these
1. Your strength
2. Your conditioning
3. Your body composition
You can really take advantage of this brilliant concept in
“Phase 3″ of the “STRONG!” program inside “Kettlebell
“It’s based on the “interval method” but not what you might
think of as intervals.
In fact, I can honestly say that I haven’t seen this anywhere
Not that it doesn’t exist, just that I haven’t SEEN it –
I learned it from my weightlifting coach so I know that he
However, I DO NOT recommend you jump to Phase 3
right away but go through the other 2 phases first as they
lay the foundation for this phase.