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The Kettlebell Bottoms Up Press
September 17, 2018

The Bottoms Up Press (BU Press) is an upper body pushing exercise that encourages proper mechanics for the shoulder and activates the neuromuscular system. Due to how hard the handle must be gripped during this movement, muscles that wouldn’t contract on a regular press are suddenly brought to life, i.e. rotator cuff, core, glutes, lats.

Since the BU Press is much harder than a regular press, start with a light weight and let the body adapt before trying anything heavy. The BU Press can be utilized in a training program like any other upper body pushing exercise — and may actually be better than other pushing exercises for anyone with shoulder pain. To build muscular endurance, train higher repetitions with lighter weight. To increase strength, train lower repetitions with heavier weight.

Before even attempting the BU Press, you should know how to fail out of the movement safely. If you fail before the kettlebell reaches shoulder level, you can simply use the free hand to prevent the bell from hitting you. If you lose control of the bell in the top position, simply let the bell fall and step in the opposite direction so the bell drops onto the floor. Another precursor to doing the BU Press is to have a solid and stable BU Clean. If you perform a poor BU Clean, the BU Press that follows will not go well! You should be able to stabilize the kettlebell in the BU rack position before attempting a press overhead.

  1. Start in a standing position with feet about hip width apart and a kettlebell in front of your feet.
  2. Hinge at the hips and grab onto the kettlebell handle, then hike the kettlebell back between the legs. Fully extend the hips and bring the kettlebell into the rack position, with bottom side up. Stabilize the bell here first; if you have a bad clean, re-clean the kettlebell before attempting the press.
  3. From the bottoms up rack position, inhale and engage the lats by pulling the shoulder down and away from the ear. Press the bell overhead as you exhale.
  4. Hold the bell in the top position for 1-2 seconds before slowly lowering the bell down with control, again engaging the lats by pulling the shoulder down.
  5. Once back in the rack position, prepare for the next repetition.

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