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The pulse

01/08/2012

Seven Best Kettlebell Exercises for Building Shoulder Strength

by Joe Meglio

Kettlebell Training STACK Seven Best Kettlebell Exercises for Building Shoulder Strength

Performing upper-body exercises with kettlebells is a great way to safely develop shoulder strength and stability. And for athletes in high-contact sports, such as football and hockey, shoulder strength is critical to perform well and prevent injury. For lower-contact sport athletes, this strength ensures you can put power into a swing or throw while maintaining a healthy shoulder joint.

So, why perform these movements with kettlebells instead of dumbbells or barbells? Three main reasons. Kettlebells allow you to move the weight in a natural and fluid motion, taking pressure off your joints. With kettlebells, you are able to quickly learn complex moves, so you can get the largest benefits from your lifts. And during kettlebell lifts, you are always engaging your core, which helps build the connection between the upper and lower body.

Below are my top seven kettlebell shoulder exercises to help improve vertical pressing strength and power.

Kettlebell Bottoms-Up Press
The Bottoms-Up Press improves shoulder stability like no other kettlebell exercise. I recommend it for improving  grip strength as well.

  • Assume athletic position and grasp kettlebell with tight grip
  • Clean kettlebell to shoulder height; keep tight grip so kettlebell is directly above hand
  • Press the kettlebell overhead
  • Repeat for specified reps; perform set with opposite arm

Sets/Reps: 3×5 each arm

Kettlebell Clean and Press
The Clean and Press builds explosive power in the hips as well as vertical pressing power. It’s also a great introduction to Olympic lifting technique. This exercise can be performed with a single kettlebell or double kettlebells for increased difficulty.

  • Assume athletic position grasping kettlebell in hand at hip height
  • Hinge at hips and bend knees to swing kettlebell through legs
  • Extend hips and knees and pull kettlebell up, keeping it close to body
  • Drop under kettlebell with bent knees, catching it in rack position
  • Lower into quarter squat
  • Forcefully extend hips and knees and simultaneously extend arm to push kettlebell overhead
  • Lower kettlebell to rack position, then straight down and immediately repeat for specified reps
  • Perform set with opposite arm

Sets/Reps: 3-5×3-8 each arm

Kettlebell Seesaw Press
The Seesaw Press is an excellent strength builder for the shoulders. Because it requires pressing one kettlebell overhead at a time, it’s also a great way to overcome strength imbalances.

  • Assume athletic stance with kettlebell in each hand at rack position
  • Press one kettlebell overhead
  • Simultaneously lower kettlebell and press opposite kettlebell overhead
  • Continue in alternating fashion for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3×6-10

Alternating Kettlebell Press
This exercise improves strength endurance in the shoulders as well as core and shoulder stability. It also helps create balanced upper body strength.

  • Assume athletic stance with kettlebells at rack position
  • Press kettlebells overhead
  • Lower kettlebell to shoulder, keeping opposite arm extended overhead
  • Press kettlebell overhead
  • Repeat with opposite arm
  • Continue in alternating fashion for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3×6-10

Strict Kettlebell Military Press
This exercise is the ultimate way to build strength in the shoulders and improve your Overhead Press.  It’s an alternative to the Barbell Overhead Press. It can be performed with a single kettlebell or double kettlebells for increased difficulty.

  • Assume athletic stance with one kettlebell in hand at rack position
  • Extend arm to press kettlebell overhead; hold for one second
  • Lower kettlebell with control to return to start position
  • Repeat for specified reps; perform set with opposite arm

Sets/Reps: 3-5×5-10 each arm

Kettlebell Push Press
The Kettlebell Push Press offers the same benefits as the Military Press with the added benefits of leg drive, which allows you to use heavier loads and apply more force to the kettlebells. The increased force production is a great way to improve explosive pressing power. The Kettlebell Push Press is a nice alternative to the Barbell Push Press, and like the Military Press, it can be performed with a single kettlebell or double kettlebells for increased difficulty.

  • Assume athletic stance with kettlebells at rack position
  • Bend at hips and knees to lower into quarter squat
  • Forcefully extend hips and knees and simultaneously extend arm to push kettlebell overhead; hold for one second
  • Lower kettlebell with control to start position
  • Repeat for specified reps; perform set with opposite arm

Sets/Reps: 4-5×3-6 each arm

Kettlebell Power Jerk
The Kettlebell Power Jerk may look similar to the Push Press, but it relies more on a leg drive to push the kettlebells overhead. The result is increased lower-body explosive power, plus improved shoulder and core stability. This exercise can be performed with a single kettlebell or double kettlebells for increased difficulty.

  • Assume athletic stance with kettlebell at rack position
  • Bend at hips and knees to lower into quarter squat
  • Forcefully extend hips, knees and ankles and drive kettlebell overhead; hold extended arm position for one second
  • Lower kettlebell with control to start position
  • Repeat for specified reps; perform set with opposite arm

Sets/Reps: 4-5×3-6

Photo:  hyperfitusa.com

Joe Meglio is a strength and conditioning coach at the Underground Strength Gym in Edison, N.J. Mentored by one of the brightest minds in the strength and conditioning industry, Zach Even-Esh, Meglio has worked with athletes at the high school, college and professional level. He specializes in training baseball players. Besides being a strength coach, Meglio competed in his first powerlifting meet in 2010, setting the New Jersey state record for Squat, Deadlift and total in his weight class and division. He graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University in May 2011, following his final season as captain of the baseball team. For more information, please go to MeglioFitness.com.


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