There is one move that stands a cut above others in terms of encouraging proper muscle activation and movement at the shoulder…the Bottom Up Kettlebell Press.
Reasons why I love the Bottom Up Kettlebell Press:
– Automatic core activation
– Automatic rotator cuff activation
– Automatic proper technique (vertical forearm)
– Automatically prevents excessive shoulder shrugging
– Requires focus and control (which discourages sloppy joint mechanics throughout the movement)
I’ve often said that your bottom up press should be within 1 bell size (4 kilos) from your standard kettlebell press. If you have a big gap between them, it’s as if you have great horsepower with bald tires – too much power that you can’t control. Thus increasing your chance of injury.
How to implement the Bottom Up Kettlebell Press to improve shoulder health
Step 1. Evaluate your bottom up press and standard military press.
If you have a gap, it means you need to practice some bottom up presses and get your control back. Aim for a bottom up press within 4-8 kilos of your standard press.
Step 2. Work some new angles.
Depending on who you ask, you will get a wide range of equally confident answers as to the “perfect” technique for an overhead press – whether with a dumbbell, kettlebell or barbell. As always, it’s not so cut and dried. There is no right and wrong, just cause and effect.
Following this line of thinking I recommend you try the following: A) Experiment to find out which type of press works best for you. 1.Which feels better on your shoulder? 2.Which makes you better (test your range of motion before and after)?
B) Play around with the following variations, because they simply work different parts of the body at varying levels: Press in a line straight ahead of you Kick it out to the side with the palm facing forward Press from half kneeling Look up Look at the bell Rotate your body toward the side you're pressing on
The goal, at the end of the day, is to be strong in any position that you might encounter. You’ll find that the elbows-in style of press requires more serratus activation and external rotation to prevent the elbow flare, where you will likely feel more lats and middle deltoids when you kick it out to the side.
Once again, this is not a right or wrong scenario, you have to respect your unique anatomical structures and find the right solution FOR YOU.
Step 1: Get your shoulders moving properly without compensations
Step 2: Play around with these variations of the bottom up press.
Step 3: Plug it into a well rounded strength and conditioning program with a large helping of mobility and upper body pulling movements to counteract all the pushing.
Live happily ever after and have cannon-ball delts.
Better every day,
ps. I just finished up my Healthy Shoulder Webinar Series and it was a blast! If you missed it, you can access the recordings and links here for FREE.