Seven Ways to Train for a Stronger Press – Part Five: Double Kettlebell Front Squats


This is the fifth installment of a seven part series about how to train for a stronger press. In this installment I will talk about how training heavy double kettlebell front squats, just once per week, can help you to improve your upper body press strength.

If you missed the first four installments you can read them here:

As I mentioned in my post “How I Completed The Iron Maiden Challenge As a Lightweight” I wrote myself a specific training program to build strength for a half body weight military press in order to press 24kg (53lbs) successfully. Part of this program included training heavy double kettlebell front squats with double 24kg kettlebells (106lbs) one time per week.

Why Heavy Double Kettlebell Front Squats?

The Double Kettlebell Front Squat is both a lower body press and a total body movement. Training the double kettlebell front squat will help to improve how you grind through a strength movement, and since it is a lower body press and a total body movement, it will allow you to push more load in order to build strength for an upper body press

Double 24kg (106lbs) Kettebell Front Squats 5 Sets of 3 Repetitions

In kettlebell training with have grinds, which are strength movements, and ballistics, which are explosive, cardiovascular movements. The double kettlebell front squat is a grind. This means that when you are going through the movement of a double kettlebell front squat, in order to successfully ascend from the bottom of your squat and push your bodyweight plus the additional weight (e.g. 106lbs) that you are holding in the rack position in front of you, up against gravity, you have to know how to properly grind through the movement with proper tension techniques, muscle coordination, and breath.

Training this grind movement with a front squat translates to the upper body press, because you have to grind very similarly through an upper body press.

In addition, since the double kettlebell front squat is a total body press, you can push more load than you can with simply an upper body press.

For example, at a bodyweight of 117/118 pounds I am strong enough to front squat double 24kg (106lbs) kettlebells for 5 sets of 5 repetitions but I am not strong enough (yet 😉 ) to press double 24kg kettlebells overhead in an upper body push.

Subsequently, training the press variation of a heavy double kettlebell front squat allows me to grind and press twice as much weight (48kg – 106lbs) as my ultimate goal weight (24kg – 53lbs) for my upper body press, and therefore build strength for my upper body press in general and specifically for a half body weight military press.

In addition, by virtue of training heavy double front squats once per week, I also trained heavy double cleans once per week, but not in excess volume. Every time I had to clean double 24kg to start my front squat I gained practice and strength from that 106lb clean. I only trained five 106lb single cleans per week, as I only did five sets of 106lb front squats, but those five singles were enough to build hip power with double 24kg kettlebells that in turn built hip power for my single 24kg clean to press.

Training heavy double cleans once per week far more improved my clean for a 24kg press than training single 28kg (62lbs) loaded kettlebell cleans.

If you can generate enough hip power to kettlebell clean 106lbs in a clean, smooth, strong movement, then a 24kg kettlebell will clean right up, smooth like BUTTAH.

22kg (~49lbs) Press shown below, but you can see how smooth and strong the clean is as a result of training heavy double 24kg kettlebell cleans:

How Did I Progress The Double Kettlebell Front Squat?

I did not come right out of the gate with the ability and strength to squat double 24kg kettlebells. That’s A LOT of weight for someone my size! I built up to it over time.

In my opinion, if you cannot clean the kettlebells then you have no business squatting them or pressing them!  You must build up strength to a solid clean before you can squat or press a particular weight.

It took me 16 weeks to reach my goal and the first week I tested the waters with double 18kg (~80lbs) for 5 sets of 5 repetitions.

That was easy so the second week I trained double 20kg (88lbs) for 5 sets of 5 repetitions.

That went well so week three I trained double 22kg (~97lbs) for 5 sets of 3 repetitions. This was very hard for me at the time (the note in my training journal read, “These were hard. Keep working with these.”), so I stuck with double 22kgs for 8 weeks.

Over the course of 8 weeks I worked up to 5 sets of 5 repetitions with double 22kgs. Once I worked up to 5 sets of 5 repetitions with double 22kgs, I trained this weight for a few weeks before moving onto double 24kg (106lbs).

During week 11 I started to work in double 24kg front squats and I started at 3 sets of 2 repetitions, then worked up to 5 sets of 2 repetitions, and then added on reps to the sets as the weeks progressed.

By week 16 I completed 5 sets of 5 repetitions with double 24kgs and I stuck with that for four weeks until the week of the Iron Maiden Challenge.

Double 24kg (106lbs) Kettebell Front Squats 5 Sets of 5 Repetitions

Hopefully the progression that I used and provided as an example helps to give you an idea of how you can, safely and effectively, work up to your goal weight for heavy double kettlebell front squats.

In the next installment of this seven part series about how to train for a stronger press, I will talk about Crawling for Time. In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions about heavy double kettlebell front squats!


If you would like to learn more detail as to how I structure programming specific to pressing or to train for a half bodyweight press then I hope you’ll join me for my workshop I Am Not Afraid To Lift on November 8, 2014 at Iron Body Studios in Needham, MA.

If you have a current strength goal that you are working towards, or need help deciding on one, this workshop will help you to decide on a strength goal and learn programming to work towards that strength goal.

Early Bird price ends on October 1 and spots are already filling up so register soon if you are interested because it will be limited to 30 people.

I look forward to lifting with you on November 8!


Read more about I Am Not Afraid To #LiftNYC HERE!

Learn more HERE ==>

Register HERE under EVENTS ==>

Early bird pricing through October 1 – $149.00

Regular price after October 1 – $199.00

I will see you on November 8 & I look forward to lifting with you!




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