The Big Bell Theory: Plans for Pressing Bigger Kettlebells

With each year comes new opportunities and new plans. There is much we can accomplish within the length of one year. One of my students pressed the Beast after training for one year — and he started with 16kg. It’s an outstanding accomplishment, and I hope my article detailing his journey will help you to increase your strength and press the 48kg Beast.

The Secrets to Pressing Bigger Kettlebells

The journey from the beginning to a perfect military press with 48kg is a heavy and long one. Even if you are not chasing the Beast, you may still have a half-bodyweight press in your sites as you train to earn your SFG II Certification. I have earned the SFG II myself and have helped many students with their press. There are a few things you need to do before and during you press training:

1. Get an SFG Trainer to Help You

If you want to successfully complete a military press plan, the most important thing is to perform all presses with the best possible form. If you have the opportunity, get an SFG instructor to correct your technique. If you are an SFG instructor, then have another SFG instructor assist in your press plan, correct your faults, and give you advice.

Get a bigger military press

2. Do Not Hurry

Although we follow the same program, my students need more time to complete their daily military press training than me. My students take about an hour, while I need only about twenty minutes to complete the same program. Building strength takes time, not just over the course of a year, but also within your sessions. You must feel you are ready to press all the repetitions of your next set. If you need more time, be patient. Don’t clean the bell, yet!

3. Be Patient

I will mention a few different press plans below. Don’t try to rush through them all. If you have completed one plan successfully, give yourself time before starting the next one. My experience is if you don’t rest between two press plans for one to two weeks, then you will have serious shoulder pain. During this time, you can do easy presses. Try 5 sets of 5 at 60-67% of your 1RM along with heavy and slow get-ups.

4. Attain Your Perfect 1RM

Before you choose your military press plan, you must press a perfect 1RM on both sides. You have to fulfill all SFG military press requirements!

Technique Tips That Will Change Your Military Press

As a current instructor, I was invited to assist at the SFG I Certification in Croatia by StrongFirst Team Leader Sasa Rajnovic. Being there as an assistant helped me to improve my press technique, as did the advice of Master SFG Fabio Zonin. My 1RM was 48kg, at that time. But only an hour after taking his advice, my press increased and 48kg became my 4RM. Here are some quick technique reminders for you:

  • Grip: Before you clean the bell, make sure your hand is positioned correctly on the kettlebell handle.
  • Arm Wrestling: If you have a straight wrist, the stronger one will win – either you or the bell. If you arm wrestle with the kettlebell, you will dominate and you will be the winner.
  • Perfect Timing: When you start the press, clench your free palm. This will activate the antagonist muscles in the pressing arm.
  • Precision: During the press, follow the bell with your eyes – but not with your head!

Military Press Plans

There are a number of proven StrongFirst military press plans in existence to take you from wherever you are to whatever your goal is. The best way to learn about these plans is through the Plan Strong Course. Below I will mention a few of them and who they are most appropriate for, as well as outline a couple that I have used in more detail.

Pavel Plan Strong
Pavel teaching at Plan Strong.

From 16kg to 28kg: StrongFirst Military Press Plan 410A

This plan is for you if you have acceptable press technique and a training 1RM of 24kg. A training max is the maximal weight you can lift at any time with perfect technique and no psyching up. You should be able to do a series of singles with this weight.

From 28kg to 32kg: StrongFirst Military Press Plan 410B

This plan is at a higher volume and using 80-85% of your 1RM. At this point you should be able to comfortably press your former training max five or six times.

From 32kg to 40kg: Zsolt Derzsi Plan

Pressing Bigger Kettlebells for Military PressNote: On days when the volume is 40 reps or higher, divide the work into two series with 15 minutes of non-related and non-conflicting exercises in between.

For the test:

  1. Warm up in the manner to which you are accustomed
  2. Press 24kg x 3/3
  3. Press 28kg x 2/2
  4. Press 32kg x 1
  5. Press 36kg x 1
  6. Get-up 24kg 2/2
  7. Loaded clean 40kg
  8. Rest of 10 min
  9. Press 40kg with good spotting

From 40kg to 44kg: StrongFirst Military Press Plan 499

This is a hypertrophy- and strength-maintenance plan for a girevik with a 40kg military press 1RM. The 501G plan is recommended right after this one.

From 40kg to 44kg: StrongFirst Military Press Plan 501G

This plan is for a girevik with a 40kg military press 1RM.

From 44kg to 48kg: StrongFirst Military Press Plan 611

For the girevik with a 44kg military press 1RM who has successfully completed the 501G plan – and thrives on very high volume and intensity. There are two versions of this plan, A and B. Below is the version B plan that I myself followed.

Lifting Bigger Kettlebells for Military PressPressing Bigger Kettlebells for Military Press

Zsolt Derzsi
Zsolt graduated from Sport Secondary Grammar School (Dunajská Strada, Slovakia) in 2013. That same year, he successfully completed the StrongFirst SFG Level I Certification in Hungary, at the young age of nineteen. He earned his SFL the following year, and he became an SFG II in 2015.
Zsolt Derzsi on Facebook

26 thoughts on “The Big Bell Theory: Plans for Pressing Bigger Kettlebells

  • I really enjoyed this article. However, what if I have a 44k press but have not completed any of the 501 programs? Can I still do 611? Sorry, is it recommended I guess is a better question…

  • Is there a way that we may get access to the 501G and 499 plans? At least have a look? I would love to start working on the 501G. Hope to hear from you soon!

  • I’d like to train according this plan, but I don’t want do only press by 9 weeks…

    1. what shoud I do before/after ‘press session’?
    2. Should I trennig only at ‘press day’?
    3. Shoud I do military press or clean&press?


  • Well thought out road to The Beast. On the off days could I barbell squat or deadlift without impacting my pressing to much. I love to squat and I would not want to waste all that hard work.

  • Very well thought out. A little confused on reps/ sets though. For example 24kg x (4,6) x2,5.
    I assume 24kg x 4 reps x2 sets and then and 6 reps for two sets. Is the 5 for the next number of sets?

  • Why is the first weight missing on almost half of the days in “From 32kg to 40kg: Zsolt Derzsi Plan”?

    • Example:
      Week #4 Monday:
      1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
      28kg 3, 4, 5 reps
      32kg 1, 2 reps
      That means:
      32kg x 1
      32kg x 2
      28kg x 3
      28kg x 4
      28kg x 5
      28kg x 4
      28kg x 3
      32kg x 2
      32kg x 1

  • I’d be interested in a plan to go from say a 24kg to a 32kg, then to a 40 if no intermediate bells were available

  • Very succinct and informative article. I’m curious about the first two plans (410A/B): how do we go about obtaining these?

  • Strong and solid work, Zsolt. Three times: your achievements, press and this article. Very helpful cues, informations and plans.

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