Monday, March 16, 2009

Re-wiring the military press

Yesterday at Rif's RKC II Prep course I tweaked my back out pretty bad. It was one of those pains where you break into a cold sweat the second it happens. I had to work through it and it was fine, but still present when I went home. I took some time to soak, do some extensions, stretch the tight flexors out, and relax. This morning I felt better and decided to do a light workout.
Yeah... anyway. 15 Grade 2 bolts and 15 sets of 5/5 military press on the 20 kg. I feel better. Not quite a 'light' day, but the results were good.
Using the technique corrections Rif gave us my press is so much stronger it's absurd. Looking back I shudder at how many junk reps I put up that just meant absolutely nothing. I understood pulling my shoulder in the socket and tightening up, but what serves me better is using the pulling down of my shoulder not just to get it in the socket, but to wedge my entire body into the ground. I was so tight my calves cramped. After the set my legs are smoked. I have to say I felt the press more in my abs than in my shoulders. The 20 kg. felt like a toy and practically pressed itself.
Rif pulled out a copy of the original 'Russian Kettlebell Challenge' book and pointed out that just the photo of Pavel pressing on the cover pretty much said it all. Every muscle tight, forearm vertical, shoulder packed, hip out. Now I am basically pressing exactly as it is seen on the cover, and it makes all the difference. My free hand pushes my hip out, and importantly I am also crush gripping my hip bone.
I have also found an easy way to track my sets of presses by bending a bolt in-between each set.


  1. awesome dude and thanks for the kind words. it was great having you there and thanks again for setting the whole thing're just getting started, too :))

  2. Thanks Rif. I've been having dreams about pressing the 40 kg. Maybe I need a break.

  3. Every time I see Rif press on a video, he purposefully sucks his shoulder down beforehand. I guess you noticed that, too.

    You know, it's a lot easier to add weight to a barbell than choose a heavier kettlebell. Safer, too, IMO. Do you press barbells?

  4. I do press barbells, albeit intermittently. I'm going to start working it in on my heavier pressing days. Sucking the shoulder in makes a huge difference.

  5. I agree. I've been "sucking" with kettlebell presses ever since I saw Rif doing it.

    When you're going for a big weight, there's no substitute for a big weight to train with. A barbell is just so much easier to load to specification. I pressed 175 on a barbell before I pressed a 40kg kettlebell. They're not the same, although I feel the barbell press had to come first to give me the strength.