Seven Ways to Train for a Stronger Press – Part Two: The Bottoms-Up Press
This is the second installment of a seven part series about how to train for a stronger press. In this installment I will talk about the bottoms-up press. If you missed the first installment about the One-Arm Push-Up, you can read it HERE.
The stronger your bottoms up press, the more beer presses you can do 😉 …
The bottoms up kettlebell press helps to train an efficient press pattern, train how to keep the forearm vertical when pressing, improves dynamic shoulder stability, total body tension, and grip.
The position of the kettlebell when executing a bottoms up press makes the bottoms up press a difficult press to master and it is very challenging for the neuromuscular system. The difficulty of the bottoms up press and the position of the kettlebell when executing a bottoms up press, forces you to:
- Decrease your bell size so that you are using a lower system load (per Charlie Weingroff) for maximal gains; and
- Forces you to train an efficient movement pattern. When you train an efficient movement pattern it means that everything is working together for movement and stability thereby resulting in proximal stability for distal power.
Which means that you are maintaining proper tension close to the center of your body while executing the bottoms up press with an efficient movement pattern away from the center of your body.
You can only become so strong in an inefficient movement pattern and then you stop seeing strength gains and/or risk injury.
This stability is not just about maintaining proper tension at the center of your body, but it is also about the dynamic stability of your shoulder. How efficiently does your scapula and the rest of the muscles that work with the scapula move through the movement of the bottoms up press?
“Stability is control in the presence of change.” – Charlie Weingroff
For more detail about scapular stability refer to Eric Cressey and Mike Reinold.
How did the Bottoms Up Press help my military press?
When I first I started training the bottoms up press regularly in May 2012, it revealed significant imbalances between my left and right sides.
My left side lacked in stability, strength, and grip.
Training the bottoms up press helped me to improve stability, strength, and grip on my left side and as a result it improved the symmetry in both strength and movement for my military press on both my right and left sides.
How did I Program the Bottoms Up Press?
I trained, and continue to train, the bottoms up press once per week. Due to the difficultly of the bottoms up press and the stress that it puts on your neuromuscular system, it is not necessary to train the bottoms up press more than once per week.
Look at the bottoms up press as an assistance drill for your military press.
Train the bottoms up press once per week. Find a kettlebell weight that you can easily complete 3 sets of 3 repetitions with that weight and then work towards 3 sets of 5 repetitions with that weight.
Once the 3 sets of 5 repetitions with that weight becomes very manageable, (I would give it anywhere from 4-12 weeks, and definitely no less than 4 weeks) then raise the weight and go back down to 3 sets of 3 repetitions.
When you start training the bottoms up press, if you find that you are having trouble maintaining the tension you need to execute the press, then take the press to a half kneel position to help find that tension.
Some things to keep in mind when training the bottoms up press:
- You will likely need to drop weight significantly in order to have success. For example, if you are pressing 16kg (~35lbs) you may need to use half that weight for your bottoms up press.
- It may take you a very long time (e.g. 12 weeks) to see progress with your bottoms up press. Be patient and stick with it.
It took a very long time for me to see significant changes with my bottoms up press. Just as I thought I was making gains I would struggle with the bottoms up press on my left side.
To give you an example, below is my progress over the past two years with my bottoms up press:
- May 2012 – Trained 3 sets of 5 reps with both 10lbs and 15lbs
- August 2012 – Trained 3 sets of 5 reps with 8kg (~18lbs)
- May 2013 – Trained 3 sets of 5 reps 8kg-10kg (22lbs)
- June 2013 – Trained 3 sets of 3 Reps with 12kg (~26lbs) and 3 sets of 5 reps with 8kg finally felt really good, really easy.
- July 2013 – Trained 3 sets of 5 reps with 10kg
- October 2013 – Trained 3 sets of 3 reps with 12kg BUT stopped training consistently until March 2014.
- March 2014 – I started with 3 sets of 3 reps half kneeling on March 16 and then by March 23, 2014 I was training 3 sets of 5 reps with 12kg standing
- May 7, 2014 I started to work in 14kg (~30lbs) for sets of 3 reps
- May 21, 2014 I started to regularly train 3 sets of 3 reps with 14kg
Now I am working towards 3 sets of 5 reps with 14kg and I can do bottoms up singles with 16kg. However, my bottoms up clean with the 16kg is not strong enough to train regularly so I stick with 14kg.
Bottoms-up Press with 14kg (~30lbs) 3 repetitions
Bottoms-up Press with 16kg (~35lbs) 1 repetition
Do not rush to get to the next weight with your bottoms up press. Stay with the same weight for a long time until that weight is really easy before going up in weight. I found that I would work with the same weight for about three months (12 weeks) before moving to the next weight.
In the next installment of this seven part series about how to train for a stronger press, I will talk about Single and Double Kettlebell Press Ladders. In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions about the Bottoms-up Press!
Are you interested in learning more about Iron Body By Artemis’ secret to achieving Superhuman Strength? Then I hope that you will join me for my workshop, “I’m Not Afraid to Lift” on September 6, 2014 at Drive495 in New York, NY! Read more about this workshop and register HERE.
I couldn’t agree with this more. I have one of my clients doing B.U.P. for wrist strength and his press went up two bells sizes as a result, Good stuff Artemis! Thanks
Thank you Moses! Training the BUP helps in so many areas.