The bottoms-up kettlebell press is a valuable addition to your training routine that can help build strong shoulders, but are you sure you’re even doing the exercise correctly?
For this movement, you shouldn’t settle for anything other than perfect form—especially because it’s such a simple, essential exercise that can serve as one of the centerpieces of your training plan. Let Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. and associate fitness editor Brett Williams guide you through the move’s subtleties, saving you from the bad habits that are keeping you from unlocking your fitness potential.
Before you grab a kettlebell and start pressing, take note that it’s extremely important to pay attention the movement here. The way you hold the weight and your positioning is essential to make sure you’re getting the most out of the exercise—so let’s break down everything you need to know.
Eb Says: One of the biggest mistakes of any shoulder press is arching your back and flaring your ribcage. This effectively changes the angle of the press ever-so-subtly, and depending how big your arch is, it may shift some force generation from your shoulders to your chest. You’re here for shoulders though, and the way to reinforce that is by keeping your ribcage tight to the body. You do that by squeezing your abs tight. Performing the bottoms-up press from a half-kneeling stance can also help, and it’ll help protect your lower back, too.
Eb Says: A great deal of what I tell you about the bottoms-up kettlebell press applies not only to this press but also to any military press variation. The bottoms-up press essentially forces you to be that much more strict with your form to maintain control of the bell. You’ll notice this first in your forearm positioning. Especially as you press heavier and heavier weights on the bottoms-up, you find that you MUST own a vertical forearm. By keeping wrist stacked directly above elbow, you’re more easily able to balance the kettlebell. Focus on a vertical forearm, both when you drive the bell up and when you bring it down.
Don’t Go Wide
Eb Says: You’ll see plenty of people military-pressing with their elbows flared all the way out, practically in the frontal plane. But that’s rarely the most advantageous, natural way to press. And that’s that much more true with the bottoms-up press. Think about keeping the bell right in front of you, and having your upper arm in front of your body. This will let you drive the bell up smoothly, and it will help you maintain a vertical forearm, too.
Want to master even more moves? Check out our entire Form Check series.