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Kettlebell Question regarding Kettlebell Press

Stefan Olsson

Level 5 Valued Member
I am not a sports scientist. It feels like like, as the kettlebell comes to rest in the rack position, that I am "coiled" and I can then "uncoil" that tension or energy or whatever you'd like to call it to make my press better, stronger than it would be without the clean. I feel fairly certain that someone, somewhere has quantified this, but I don't have a link to a study and I still haven't had a chance to look for a reference in ETK. If I have caused any confusion by my use of the word energy when perhaps I should have said tension, I apologize. But when you pull back on the bow in preparation for shooting the arrow, are you storing energy or tension? Whatever that is, the clean feels like that to me, and as others here have said in their replies on this thread, I think we all seem to be feeling the same thing.

@Stefan Olsson, it was a good question you asked - thank you for asking it.

-S-
Thank you for taking your time to explain it to your best ability. The question came up after I read your post above. I have heard it before and read it in my copy of etk. Just was curious about the rationale or 'science' behind it - now I understnd what you mean! All good
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Team Leader Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Sinister
Good thread and discussion. Is it not the same thing as the backswing of the kettlebell swing, snatch, or clean as opposed to a "dead" swing, snatch, or clean? The backswing allows the elastic rebound to launch the movement. Whether that's from muscle, fascia, tendons.... I don't know. But this pre-stretch allows for a more forceful contraction going back in the other direction somehow. Also seems similar to a heavy squat as opposed to a paused squat. You have to learn to use the timing and tension, but it can definitely help. So with a clean and press, the pecs and perhaps other muscles are doing the same thing.
 

Bauer

Level 7 Valued Member
Pavel in RKC said:
Once the girya is at its lowest point, drop it to clean and press it again. At least in the beginning—or when you use a bell that is heavy for you—clean it before each press. You will find that the clean loads more spring into your pressing muscles and helps to keep your waist tight.
@Steve Freides : Is this the quote you had in mind?

Here is another relevant quote
Pavel in RKC said:
To get the most out of your press, while putting the least amount of distress on your shoulder, you must start the press with your working shoulder maximally pressed down—the opposite of a shrug—and your elbow pushed down as low as it can go. At the same time, pull the elbow slightly inward toward your belly button. This maneuver from the arsenal of Russian weightlifters—a so-called obtyazhka—pre-stretches the delts. As a result you will be stronger; Starling’s Law states that a pre-stretched muscle has more ummph. You will also evenly work all the three heads of the deltoid rather than just the overworked front one, and will do it through a maximal range of motion.
 

Bauer

Level 7 Valued Member
Good thread and discussion. Is it not the same thing as the backswing of the kettlebell swing, snatch, or clean as opposed to a "dead" swing, snatch, or clean? The backswing allows the elastic rebound to launch the movement. Whether that's from muscle, fascia, tendons.... I don't know. But this pre-stretch allows for a more forceful contraction going back in the other direction somehow. Also seems similar to a heavy squat as opposed to a paused squat. You have to learn to use the timing and tension, but it can definitely help. So with a clean and press, the pecs and perhaps other muscles are doing the same thing.
This also aligns with a a quote from ETK
Your press is only as good as your clean. Watch a newbie clean
and press a kettlebell. The clean will rock him off balance, almost
making him stagger backward. He will then put up a shaky press,
his feet and waist wiggling all over the place.
Now watch an expert do the same thing. The kettlebell pro is
the indisputable master of the forces he generates. The heavy ket￾tlebell will not push him around. Instead, the kinetic energy will do
something very cool. It will not dissipate back over his shoulder
but rather go straight down his body into his feet. Every muscle
will tense, and his whole body will compress like a spring. After a
legal pause, the stored energy will rebound explosively from the
feet in a crisp display of strength as he presses the kettlebell.
An experienced girevik is playing a game of “force pool,”
expertly rebounding the force generated by the clean from the
ground. When—or if—you master this skill you will wield awe￾some pressing power
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Good thread and discussion.
Agreed! My thanks to you and also to @Bauer for these last few posts.

Is it not the same thing as the backswing of the kettlebell swing, snatch, or clean as opposed to a "dead" swing, snatch, or clean?
I think we must answer "yes" and "no" to this.

The backswing allows the elastic rebound to launch the movement.
The "yes" is obvious but the "no" is that, because we're required to pause in the rack position for the kettlebell C&P and with the bar motionless on the chest in the BP, there are differences. I think we could rightly ascribe those differences to skill, as Pavel makes clear in the quoted passage in @Bauer's post above. A novice will lose more of the potential that the clean can bring to the press, but a more skilled lifter will learn how to prevent some part of that "rebound" from dissipating and therefore have a stronger press.

And, of course, in both movements, there is the additional skill of learning how to create a "bounce-less bounce" to start the press. Bounce-less is required for it to be a legal press in both the kettlebell C&P and the barbell BP. I have seem some highly skilled lifters do this close up, and it's amazing to watch - they learn how to explode in a way that looks like a bounce but they're doing it from what looks like a completely motionless pause.

-S-
 
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mvikred

Level 5 Valued Member
Great discussion. I wasn’t expecting to be so richly discussed as I thought there was an obvious reason that everyone agreed on. But based on what many have written above I take away that there is place for both modalities in training. Of course it is more difficult to do consecutive reps as @John Grahill wrote earlier, doing consecutive Military Presses is difficult. And when trying to hit that 1RM, it probably is good to clean and press !!
 

LarryB

Level 6 Valued Member
This also aligns with a a quote from ETK
+1 to this being a good thread!

I think that the most potent part of that description from ETK is that the stored energy or potentiation (whatever we’re calling it) is how he describes the energy transferring all the way to the feet/ground. To me and my limited knowledge the feet are designed to do exactly what we are talking about (transferring energy). So maybe the stored energy is traveling way further than we think? I’m just brainstorming.

Is there any loading/storing of the lats? It makes me think of “shooting a cannon from a canoe”. I feel like a cheat clean I’ll clean too high and obviously have to adjust. Clean i aim lower and seem to load the lats better.
 

Kev

Level 6 Valued Member
ETK suggests sometimes doing press only (1 clean, press for reps) on light day at least some of the time, if memory serves.

-S-
Great discussion. I wasn’t expecting to be so richly discussed as I thought there was an obvious reason that everyone agreed on. But based on what many have written above I take away that there is place for both modalities in training. Of course it is more difficult to do consecutive reps as @John Grahill wrote earlier, doing consecutive Military Presses is difficult. And when trying to hit that 1RM, it probably is good to clean and press !!
The C+P, Long cycle and push presses are just beastly moves. Even double cleans are a complete smoker. I don’t really ever just press anymore. It’s always with a clean before each press. Then again I’m committing to 60 weeks of Geoff Neuperts “The Giant” at the moment (and foreseeable future). So it’s handy I like the C+P so much.
 

bluejeff

Level 6 Valued Member
Interesting thread. I am in the middle of college physics and have been thinking about this, through my novice physics knowledge. I wouldn't take my thoughts as me trying to explain it all; it's mostly just me thinking it out and trying to contribute some thoughts.

It would make sense that if we pause too long after the clean, we might either relax some of the muscles in the body which support the weight of the bell (weight = force) and/or our muscles cannot generate or maintain sufficient tension to propel the bell upwards. A stiffer spring will deform less under greater force. If we think about muscles sort of like springs, then a spring that has less stiffness (think "tension") deforms more under the same force. Imagine hooking a very stiff spring to a weight and then pulling it off the ground by pulling on the spring. You will pick up the weight easily. NOW imagine swapping the stiff spring for a significantly less stiff one (a "loose" or weaker spring). You will stretch the spring long before the weight moves, if it moves at all.

NOW flip the entire system upside down, so (bear in mind this is a highly hypothetical and abstract situation) you are pushing the weight with each spring. Springs compress as well as stretch, and they always seek to return to their un-stretched, un-compressed "neutral" state (muscles do this too, btw). It should be obvious that the stiffer spring will propel the weight farther, proportional to its stiffness.

If there are any physics people here who would correct me, please do!
 

mvikred

Level 5 Valued Member
The C+P, Long cycle and push presses are just beastly moves. Even double cleans are a complete smoker. I don’t really ever just press anymore. It’s always with a clean before each press. Then again I’m committing to 60 weeks of Geoff Neuperts “The Giant” at the moment (and foreseeable future). So it’s handy I like the C+P so much.
wow .. 60 weeks, that's just over a year. that's some commitment !!! I'm on kb Strong Ph2 - the slow and steady version - and I thought 4 months was too long :D
 
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Pete L

Level 5 Valued Member
Interesting thread. I am in the middle of college physics and have been thinking about this, through my novice physics knowledge. I wouldn't take my thoughts as me trying to explain it all; it's mostly just me thinking it out and trying to contribute some thoughts.

It would make sense that if we pause too long after the clean, we might either relax some of the muscles in the body which support the weight of the bell (weight = force) and/or our muscles cannot generate or maintain sufficient tension to propel the bell upwards. A stiffer spring will deform less under greater force. If we think about muscles sort of like springs, then a spring that has less stiffness (think "tension") deforms more under the same force. Imagine hooking a very stiff spring to a weight and then pulling it off the ground by pulling on the spring. You will pick up the weight easily. NOW imagine swapping the stiff spring for a significantly less stiff one (a "loose" or weaker spring). You will stretch the spring long before the weight moves, if it moves at all.

NOW flip the entire system upside down, so (bear in mind this is a highly hypothetical and abstract situation) you are pushing the weight with each spring. Springs compress as well as stretch, and they always seek to return to their un-stretched, un-compressed "neutral" state (muscles do this too, btw). It should be obvious that the stiffer spring will propel the weight farther, proportional to its stiffness.

If there are any physics people here who would correct me, please do!
Muscles principally dont push unless you consider it as a result of their swelling, e.g. tense the lat can lift the elbow at the start of the press.
(Or a worm burrowing)
Muscles pull or contract and the push is a result of the lever mechanics.
I think the clean action may be enough stimulation on the back muscles prior to the press to inhibit them during press thereby resulting in less antagonistic force and more agonist force.
 

John Grahill

Level 7 Valued Member
ETK suggests sometimes doing press only (1 clean, press for reps) on light day at least some of the time, if memory serves.

-S-
Yeah Steve it does. However if I remember correctly I think he advises doing one clean and presses for reps on light days after learning how to create and use proper tension....I'm paraphrasing here so I may have missed something...
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Yeah Steve it does. However if I remember correctly I think he advises doing one clean and presses for reps on light days after learning how to create and use proper tension....I'm paraphrasing here so I may have missed something...
That sounds right to me, John.

Not that this will matter to others, but even as I train for a powerlifting meet, I try to do 1 or 2 sets of 5 with a 75% weight in the one-arm kettlebell military press on my easy days. When I started doing this a few months ago, I was having a shoulder issue with the drop in the clean on one side so I did only military presses to start, but as I worked out the shoulder issue, I also started switching to the C&P and I really do prefer it. It's now something of a test for me - if my cleans feel good, I know my shoulders and elbows are healthy at least to a certain point.

-S-
 

John Grahill

Level 7 Valued Member
That sounds right to me, John.

Not that this will matter to others, but even as I train for a powerlifting meet, I try to do 1 or 2 sets of 5 with a 75% weight in the one-arm kettlebell military press on my easy days. When I started doing this a few months ago, I was having a shoulder issue with the drop in the clean on one side so I did only military presses to start, but as I worked out the shoulder issue, I also started switching to the C&P and I really do prefer it. It's now something of a test for me - if my cleans feel good, I know my shoulders and elbows are healthy at least to a certain point.

-S-
Absolutely great point...if I clean it "comfortably" or "cleanly" I feel confident about the press!
 
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