Seven Ways to Train for a Stronger Press – Part Three: Single and Double Kettlebell Press Ladders

Press Ladder Blog

This is the third installment of a seven part series about how to train for a stronger press.  In this installment I will talk about Single and Double Kettlebell Press Ladders.  If you missed the first two installments you can read Part I: The One-Arm Push-Up HERE and Part II: The Bottoms-Up Press HERE.

Within the context of programming there are two types of ladders, weight ladders and repetition (rep) ladders.  For the purposes of this post, I am referring to rep ladders.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with kettlebell press ladders, a kettlebell press ladder is when you chose one size kettlebell and press the kettlebell for a certain number of ladder rungs and sets.

An example of 3 sets of a 3 rung Single Kettlebell Press Ladder would be:

Set One: 1 Right, 1 Left, 2 Right, 2 Left, 3 Right, 3 Left for a total of 6 presses each side per set.

Repeat for two more sets.

An example of 3 sets of a 3 rung Double Kettlebell Press Ladder would be:

Set One: 1 Double Kettlebell Press, 2 Double Kettlebell Press, 3 Double Kettlebell Press for a total of 6 presses.

Repeat for two more sets.

Single Kettlebell Press Ladders

If you are new to press ladders I recommend that you purchase the book Enter The Kettlebell (ETK) by Pavel Tsasouline and follow the guidance on pages 150-151 for the Rite of Passage Press (ROP) Ladder Program which is a Single Kettlebell Press Ladder.

If you are new to pressing and to press ladders it is recommended that you re-clean the kettlebell before each press so that you can practice your kettlebell clean.

A strong, crisp, clean, kettlebell clean is essential for a strong kettlebell press.  Therefore, the more you practice the kettlebell clean before the press, the better the clean will be.

When I first started training press ladders I followed ETK’s ROP first with 16kg (~35lbs) and then with 18kg (~40lbs).

An example of how a program cycle would go for single kettlebell press ladders is:

Week One

Day One: 3 sets 3 rung ladder

Day Two: 4 sets 3 rung ladder

Day Three: 5 sets 3 rung ladder

Week Two

Day One: 3 sets 4 rung ladder

Day Two: 4 sets 4 rung ladder

Day Three: 5 sets 4 rung ladder

Week Three

Day One: 3 sets 5 rung ladder

Day Two: 4 sets 5 rung ladder

Day Three: 5 sets 5 rung ladder

You will want to dedicate 3 days per week to your press ladder cycle.  Each week you will add a rung.  The days that are heavy training days with 5 sets can take up to 30 minutes and can take a lot out of you.  Pressing is A LOT of work.  Adjust the rest of your training over the course of the week and within an individual session accordingly.

Once you are able to complete 5 sets of a 5 rung press ladder with the kettlebell you chose to work with, you are done with the press ladder program cycle and you should test your press.

Most of the time after finishing a cycle of press ladders, most people are able to press one bell size heavier than they could before they started the press ladder.  This was not the case for me, however, I DID improve my press skill and increase my press strength with the ability to be able to press 20kg (44lbs) more easily and for more reps.

As I worked towards my goal of a stronger 24kg (53lbs) press, I incorporated press ladders into my training program once per week.  Since I previously followed the Right of Passage Press ladder program, I did not follow the formal Right of Passage Press Ladder program this time around.  Instead, I simply incorporated the format of press ladders into my training program once per week.  I train the press ladders without re-cleaning the kettlebell before each press.  So instead of training clean and press ladders, I train strict press ladders once per week.

A recommendation as to how to select your kettlebell size for these ladders is to choose a kettlebell that is a weight that is 70% of your max kettlebell press. I started with 18kg (~40lbs) and worked my way up to 20kg (44lbs). Right now I am working with 20kg for 5 sets of a 4 rung press ladder.

Below is a video of 1 set of a 3 rung press ladder with 20kg. Notice the rest time I take in between each press in order to ensure a successful press. Do not rush through your sets of press ladders.

20kg Single Kettlebelll 3 Rung Press Ladder

 

Double Kettlebell Press Ladders

As I worked towards my goal of a stronger 24kg (53lbs) press, I incorporated double kettlebell press ladders into my training program once per week.

I like to train 3 rung double kettlebell press ladders for as many rounds as I can complete in 15 minutes with a goal of 10 total sets. If you hit 10 total sets that’s 60 presses.

That’s A LOT of volume for one training session.

For example:

Set One: 1 Double Kettlebell Press, 2 Double Kettlebell Press, 3 Double Kettlebell Press for a total of 6 presses.

Repeat this for as many more sets as you can do within 15 minutes without rushing. Take sufficient rest time in between each rung.

Once you hit 10 sets with a particular weight, my recommendation is to not try to do more sets, but rather start to work in sets with the next bell size up.

For example:

Set One with Double 16kg: 1 Double Kettlebell Press, 2 Double Kettlebell Press, 3 Double Kettlebell Press.

Sets Two, Three, and Four with Double 18kg: 1 Double Kettlebell Press, 2 Double Kettlebell Press, 3 Double Kettlebell Press for each set.

Sets Five through Ten with Double 16kg: 1 Double Kettlebell Press, 2 Double Kettlebell Press, 3 Double Kettlebell Press for each set.

A recommendation as to how to select your kettlebell size for these ladders is to choose kettlebells that are a weight that are 70% of your max kettlebell press. I started with double 16kg (~70lbs) and worked my way up to double 18kg (~80lbs). Right now I am working with double 18kg for 10 sets within 15 minutes.

Below is a video of 1 set of a 3 rung double kettlebell press ladder with 18kg. Notice the rest time I take in between each press to ensure a successful press. Do not rush through your sets of press ladders.

Double 18kg Kettlebell 3 Rung Press Ladder

 

This is just an overview of how I incorporated press ladders into my training program in order to improve the strength and skill of my pressing.

As a result of training press ladders and other movements that I programmed for a stronger press, I became strong enough to press double 22kg (96.8lbs- 83% bodyweight) kettlebells for multiple singles. Below is a video of a second set of singles…

Double 22kg (96.8lbs- 83% bodyweight) Kettlebell Press

 

If you would like to learn more detail as to how I structured this programming and as to what other movements I programmed in order to build this strength and skill, 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!

In the next installment of this seven part series about how to train for a stronger press, I will talk about Open Half Kneel Pressing. In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions about Single and Double Kettlebell Press Ladders!

#BeXena

#NotAfraidToLift

#LadyPartsIntact

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2 Comments on “Seven Ways to Train for a Stronger Press – Part Three: Single and Double Kettlebell Press Ladders

  1. Great post! I’ve been working on my clean and presses a lot lately. Question regarding calluses……….I notice that you don’t wear gloves, do you have have issues with the bells ripping up your hands?

  2. I don’t usually wear gloves, however I DO have calluses. I don’t like to wear gloves because, when pressing, it’s best to be able to use the sensory receptors on your hands found at the heal of your hand and outside edge of your hand to ensure a strong press. Wearing gloves inhibits that. You can’t feel the bell properly with a gloved hand. I do shave and file my calluses almost daily and I apply lotion to my hands at night before bed and sometimes even wear gloves or cotton socks on my hands after I apply the lotion to keep the moisture in my hands.

    Generally there are two reason for torn hands:

    1) Your hands are too moist or too dry – both will cause calluses to tear. That’s why it’s not good to use too much chalk because it dries out your hands too much; and

    2) If you are working too much volume before your body and hands are ready for it. If your hands are tearing regularly I advise to look at how much volume you are doing in your training. If it seems to be too much, and you’re not ready for it yet, your hands will show it with repeated torn calluses.

    I hope this helped and please let me know if you have any other questions!

    ~Artemis

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