11 Aug 7 Powerful Reasons To Consider The Kettlebell Bent Press.
It’s an amazing lift with many “hidden” benefits, when executed properly.
Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most misunderstood kettlebell exercises.
There are definitely variations to this lift, which is one reason it’s so misunderstood.
This article answers the question, why the bent press?
Just so you know, the “how to” will be coming in a cool 3 part video series, showing you specific progressions to train and develop the bent press.
Did you know that the bent press (along with the snatch) was the original program minimum from Pavel’s great book The Russian Kettlebell Challenge?
You should understand that the bent press essentially brings into play all the major muscle groups in your body and it builds serious strength.
Strength legends like Eugene Sandow and Arthur Saxon utilized the bent press extensively in their training programs.
I’ll explain why this is such a powerful lift and something you should seriously consider, if it matches your training goals and you meet some prerequisite movement skills.
This exercise meets my big 3 criteria for any exercise.
The 3 criteria I want from any exercise are:
Every single exercise I do MUST help me in those 3 areas.
If it fails any one of those 3, I don’t do it, it’s that simple.
The bent press helps me move better, improves mobility, and gets me stronger, without question.
There are 7 specific, powerful benefits to consider in performing the bent press.
Here are the 7 benefits:
1-ULTIMATE NEUROMUSCULAR LEARNING.
This lift absolutely requires detailed instruction, but with proper coaching and skill breakdown, it can be done safely and effectively by many athletes and kettlebell enthusiasts (although lack of flexibility or poor shoulder and trunk strength will make the lift very challenging).
The kettlebell is really the perfect tool to learn this exercise and neuromuscular learning is key to the success.
“The bent press finishes what the get up starts” as stated by Master kettlebell instructor Dave Whitely.
What the get up is to the shoulders, the bent press is to the hips.
It’s a wonderful lift, but it does require solid movement skills, coordination, and flexibility/mobility to effectively perform.
There is a definitely a “learning curve” to appropriately “build” and engrain the motor pattern, so you have to give it time to develop and practice is the key.
The bent press is also about having a good rhythm.
You do NOT want to rush it, but move through the lift in a slow, controlled motion.
Finding your groove is essential.
I’ll explain more about how to learn the drills and progressions for this lift.
2-STRONG DEVELOPER OF THE LATS.
One of the KEYS to the bent press is the firing of the lats.
The latisimus dorsi MUST be fired throughout the lift, otherwise the lift will be lost.
When getting set (with the kettlebell on resting the side of the press), the lats must be contracted and flared.
Keep it symmetrical and fire both lats to set and stabilize, but the lat on the side of the kettlebell must be contracted.
As a result of the lats firing throughout the movement, the lats will become very strong and powerful.
Remember, the lats are one of the largest and most powerful muscles we have in our body, which is one reason why the bent press is such an effective exercise for strength.
Firing the lats the entire time of the press is a key to success in the bent press.
3-POWERFUL THORACIC MOBILITY ENHANCER.
Because you have to be set in some degree of thoracic extension for the lift, it’s exceptional to improve thoracic mobility.
Remember, most people today have rounded shoulders and a flexed upper back (thoracic spine) due to sitting in front of computer screens all day.
With the bent press, you have to set in scapular retraction and thoracic extension, which will promote improved thoracic mobility.
Now the challenge could be if you have poor thoracic and shoulder girdle mobility, getting set in the proper position may not be possible.
In this case, it may require some pre-requisite mobility work before attempting the lift.
You’ll be doing a series of mobility drills and exercises before attempting the lift, regardless.
This is not something that is attempted until a series of progressions occurs first.
(*More on this in the video series that’s coming.)
4-STRONG, DYNAMIC, MOBILE HIPS.
Here’s one of the most amazing benefits of this lift.
The hip mobility is exceptional here because there is virtually every hip motion that can occur going on at different points throughout the lift.
It demands hip mobility and it improves hip mobility.
The bent press is a “positioning” of your body around and underneath the kettlebell, rather than a press (this is VERY important to understand).
To effectively perform the bent press, you need hip mobility to position yourself around and underneath the kettlebell.
Also, I should note here that the windmill has nothing to do with the bent press.
These are 2 entirely different exercises and the hip mobility and movement patterns between these exercises are very different.
5-TOTAL BODY STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING.
The lift works your entire body.
While it does focus on hip and upper body mobility and strength, there is something about this exercise that is very effective for total body strength and conditioning.
The bent press is definitely a lost art in human movement and strength training.
And, like I mentioned, it’s been used by some of the strongest men in the history of strength training with great success.
I know that after just a few reps on each side with an appropriate size kettlebell, my total body strength and conditioning level is definitely challenged.
The bent press offers unique and dynamic total body strength and conditioning, as you’ll experience when developing the lift.
6-IMPROVES TRUNK STRENGTH AND STABILITY.
The effective bent press is performed as a “moving plank.”
What I mean is that the spine is set and stable during the execution of the lift.
Because you spine is set and stabilized, it’s highly effective in trunk (core) strengthening.
Getting the optimal spine position is definitely a key factor in optimizing the bent press and a huge benefit to the strength component.
7-THE BENT PRESS SEEMS TO MAKE MANY OTHER LIFTS STRONGER.
Because of the benefits with improved movement, mobility, and strength, becoming proficient in the bent press seems to make other lifts stronger.
And, specifically, it builds a stronger overhead press.
As Master kettebbell instructor Dave Whitley points out, the bent press allows you to put heavier weights overhead with ease.
In other words, the bent press allows you to press more weight overhead.
This is something “old-time” strongmen have known for decades.
In my experience, it also seems to help other lifts, as well.
This is subjective, but it does make sense that if this lift helps to develop strength and mobility in “hidden” areas, this could potentially translate into improvement with other lifts.
Any lift that requires more mobility and strength, specifically in the hips and shoulder regions such as squats, presses, get ups, snatches, jerks, etc.
What do you do now that you understand the benefits of the kettlebell bent press?
Check out the 3 part video series showing you “how to” perform the bent press, with specific progressions to learn the exercise effectively.
What I’ll show you is how to progressively build this exercise through a series of progressions and drills.
While the videos will help you to understand the requirements for the lift, I definitely recommend getting an FMS (Functional Movement Screen) or other baseline assessment of where you are before attempting.
And, nothing substitutes for “live” coaching from a properly certified instructor.
If you’d like to see the videos of the Bent Press progressions and learn more, make sure to subscribe to the YouTube Channel.
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