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Kettlebell Humblingly Weak

rvaldrich

Level 6 Valued Member
So I recently succumbed to not just injuries but the need to get some help. Shoulder problems just weren't resolving themselves with rest and care. Despite a long history of bad experiences with physical therapists, I went to see one. I am glad I did.

She identified that I basically didn't know how to use my back. My lats have basically never activated, nor have my mid- or lower-traps (obviously I'm exaggerating...but only a little). In a lifetime of lifting and calisthenics and all of it, I've basically been carrying everything on my rotator cuff and shoulders.
This has also left my upper-traps permanently semi-flexed so they've constricted my shoulder to the point of interfering with movement (hence the occasional pain with overhead presses).

In a word: yikes.

She gave me a rehab program that I've been using and it has very slowly been helping.

I just tried to press a kettlebell...and I couldn't. Try to understand how humbling this is. I was working with the 44kg bell last time I did Rite of Passage. Now, I had to backtrack to my dad's 25lb bell. Not 24kg bell; 25lbs. That's how weak I am: I HAD TO LEAVE THE METRIC SYSTEM!

It's just become very critically clear to me to distinguish between moving a weight and completing a lift. I can get the 44kg bell over my head still. But I can't correctly press it. If I press it properly? I get truly tight, including the scapula and locking the last and all that? Nope. The 25lb bell is a struggle.

Sheesh.
Gonna be long way back to pressing the 44.
 

Halfakneecap

Level 5 Valued Member
I’ve been constantly humbled since switching to kB’s. But I do think it is much better to learn the technique and do it properly. At least in your case, you know when you get the technique down you will get back to those weights pretty easily.
 

BJJ Shawn

Level 6 Valued Member
Wow, that's a big change for sure. But if you could at any time press a 44kg bell over your head, no matter how bad your technique was, you are not weak! I'm with Halfakneecap here, once you get things working properly you'll get that weight back quickly and then next up is the beast!
 

bluejeff

Level 6 Valued Member
I basically didn't know how to use my back. My lats have basically never activated, nor have my mid- or lower-traps (obviously I'm exaggerating...but only a little). In a lifetime of lifting and calisthenics and all of it, I've basically been carrying everything on my rotator cuff and shoulders.
it may not be of much comfort, but you are not in a minority there. A lot of people either press with their chest or their upper traps (or both). Having been through a great deal of what you just described myself, i can say you will enjoy moving "correctly" a great deal once you get there. Moving with compensations may allow you to "move heavier weight," but moving correctly will feel good.

good luck! And stick with it.
 

IMayAgainKnowChris

Level 5 Valued Member
I’ve heard a lot about Z Presses. I think they’re called. Basically an OHP but sitting down legs forward. Could probably be done with kettlebells too although I suspect you could use a little more English if you weren’t using a bar and only doing once side at a time. Might be worth looking into.
 

Daniel Vintila

Level 5 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
So I recently succumbed to not just injuries but the need to get some help. Shoulder problems just weren't resolving themselves with rest and care. Despite a long history of bad experiences with physical therapists, I went to see one. I am glad I did.

She identified that I basically didn't know how to use my back. My lats have basically never activated, nor have my mid- or lower-traps (obviously I'm exaggerating...but only a little). In a lifetime of lifting and calisthenics and all of it, I've basically been carrying everything on my rotator cuff and shoulders.
This has also left my upper-traps permanently semi-flexed so they've constricted my shoulder to the point of interfering with movement (hence the occasional pain with overhead presses).

In a word: yikes.

She gave me a rehab program that I've been using and it has very slowly been helping.

I just tried to press a kettlebell...and I couldn't. Try to understand how humbling this is. I was working with the 44kg bell last time I did Rite of Passage. Now, I had to backtrack to my dad's 25lb bell. Not 24kg bell; 25lbs. That's how weak I am: I HAD TO LEAVE THE METRIC SYSTEM!

It's just become very critically clear to me to distinguish between moving a weight and completing a lift. I can get the 44kg bell over my head still. But I can't correctly press it. If I press it properly? I get truly tight, including the scapula and locking the last and all that? Nope. The 25lb bell is a struggle.

Sheesh.
Gonna be long way back to pressing the 44.
And for sure you will learn a lot from this time off from the big weights. You will understand your body more and how you can get the best out of it.
I see that you like lifting that 44kg (and it is a big number for anyone) but if I may, fixating on lifting a certain weight doesn't help with training. Maybe in the future you can focus more on the actual training rather than wanting to press the 44 or 48.
Listen to your body more. A good training and a healthy body will lead to that, in a year or two or three but what matters is to get there healthy with a fully functional body.

Congrats on making this decision. It will pay off big time !
 

bluejeff

Level 6 Valued Member
I’ve heard a lot about Z Presses. I think they’re called. Basically an OHP but sitting down legs forward. Could probably be done with kettlebells too although I suspect you could use a little more English if you weren’t using a bar and only doing once side at a time. Might be worth looking into.
I love doing some z-press from time to time. It’s way harder to cheat form because you can’t lean back without falling back. It puts ALL the work in the shoulder, as you can’t use your lower body to brace as in standing. I like doing them in a straddled position. Not super wide, but not with legs straight ahead. If the shoulder tolerates it, I’d definitely give them a try. Be prepared to press lighter weight than you can standing though.
 

Tarzan

Level 6 Valued Member
There's no shame in starting light after an injury. Just think, no matter how light you go you're probably still doing more than the guy next door who sits in front of his TV all day. Knowing your limits is being honest to yourself, the last time I broke my back I started with an 8kg kettlebell, now I'm pressing a 32kg for reps. Progress on your own time scale, it doesn't matter how long it takes.
 

JR47

Level 5 Valued Member
So I recently succumbed to not just injuries but the need to get some help. Shoulder problems just weren't resolving themselves with rest and care. Despite a long history of bad experiences with physical therapists, I went to see one. I am glad I did.

She identified that I basically didn't know how to use my back. My lats have basically never activated, nor have my mid- or lower-traps (obviously I'm exaggerating...but only a little). In a lifetime of lifting and calisthenics and all of it, I've basically been carrying everything on my rotator cuff and shoulders.
This has also left my upper-traps permanently semi-flexed so they've constricted my shoulder to the point of interfering with movement (hence the occasional pain with overhead presses).

In a word: yikes.

She gave me a rehab program that I've been using and it has very slowly been helping.

I just tried to press a kettlebell...and I couldn't. Try to understand how humbling this is. I was working with the 44kg bell last time I did Rite of Passage. Now, I had to backtrack to my dad's 25lb bell. Not 24kg bell; 25lbs. That's how weak I am: I HAD TO LEAVE THE METRIC SYSTEM!

It's just become very critically clear to me to distinguish between moving a weight and completing a lift. I can get the 44kg bell over my head still. But I can't correctly press it. If I press it properly? I get truly tight, including the scapula and locking the last and all that? Nope. The 25lb bell is a struggle.

Sheesh.
Gonna be long way back to pressing the 44.
Well done for addressing the problem. If you are now using proper technique, then you have progressed, even if you are using smaller weights. It's all about the journey.
 

JR47

Level 5 Valued Member
There's no shame in starting light after an injury. Just think, no matter how light you go you're probably still doing more than the guy next door who sits in front of his TV all day. Knowing your limits is being honest to yourself, the last time I broke my back I started with an 8kg kettlebell, now I'm pressing a 32kg for reps. Progress on your own time scale, it doesn't matter how long it takes.
I almost hate to ask, but '...the 'last' time?...' ?
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
If you're going to press again, I highly recommend Fabio's new video course entitled Victorious. It starts you pressing from the position everyone is calling a Z-press, but with one kettlebell. It's a single kettlebell program.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” —Theodore Roosevelt

-S-
 

Miguel Herranz

Level 3 Valued Member
I have similar issues, and it's very hard to finally grab the small one and start over again. I haver never pressed anything bigger than the 16kg with my right hand and i can press the 24kg for reps with my left. I can do a lot of things compensating my flaws, but it's been there for years, and slowly I'm realizing that the only way is to be humble and do the work. I still fall on the side of doing things with brute strenght, but I'm working on it.
Good luck with you rehab, and tons of patience :)
 

jd_wzrd

Level 2 Valued Member
I tore my shoulder labrum back in August and I'm just starting to get my strength back. Read this post the other day and realized I was doing the same thing. No lat engagement. Made a point to focus on Mind/Muscle connection and it felt way better. No pain. No trouble. Getting my pressing strength back seems more possible now.

Like everyone else has said there's no shame in starting over. When I got hurt I reevaluated how I was moving and I took the time to relearn the basics and I found there was some technique I was neglecting. Try to change your mindset and instead think of this time as an opportunity to learn. ?
 

John Spezzano

Level 6 Valued Member
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Congrats on having the guts to get diagnosed. Many people (myself included on occasion) would rather not know. Now comes the hard work, but at least you know you're making progress on the issue, not the symptom.
 
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