Justa’s Singles Strategy Adapted to the Double Kettlebell Press

This is a program I have used for improving the double kettlebell press. It was inspired by Steve Justa’s singles routines, which call for a high volume of weekly singles and small but regular weight jumps every week.

The challenge here was that the original program calls for 5-10lb jumps each week and all my pairs of kettlebells are 4kg jumps between each, making the total increase 8kg or about 18lbs. I didn’t want to use mismatched sizes, so I opted to go for gradual increases in volume.

Rather than add weight every week, I added reps until I was doing sets of 2 every other set, then I went up in weight. Using the program outlined below, I went from 2×36 for a max single to 2×44 in about ten weeks.

Just Inspired Double Kettlebell Press ProgramThe Double Kettlebell Press Program

Justa’s original program from his book Rock, Iron, Steel had a few different variations. One of them has you lifting seven days per week and I knew that was not going to fit into my life schedule, so I chose his “every other day” option. This will have you lifting seven times in two weeks on a schedule that looks like this:

  • Week 1: Lift on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.
  • Week 2: Lift on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

After this, repeat the same schedule in two week blocks.

Do 30 singles with 1-2 minutes rest between each set. When you reach 30, you are done.
Next session add 5lbs and repeat. Add 5lbs every session. Every couple of weeks, check your 1RM to make sure you are working around the 70% mark.

How to Get Started

  1. Determine 1RM. This sounds simple enough. Grab a pair of kettlebells and press them. If you can press them more than once, then they are not your one-rep max (1RM). If you cannot press them at all, they are not your 1RM. The trick here is that your 1RM may be in between sizes. If you can get a 2 reps with 2×28 and cannot press 2x32kg at all, use 2×28 as your 1RM.
  2. Calculate 70%. Sticking with out 2x28kg example, we multiple 28 time .70 and get 19.6. Round that up to a pair of 20kg and you are all set.
  3. Get to pressing. Pressing 70-ish% of a 1RM will seem very easy, mostly because it is. That’s okay. Let the volume do the work. The astute observer will recognize this whole thing as an organized approach to greasing the groove. Do 30 singles the first session and focus on precision of technique and speed of each rep. Rest 1-2 minutes between sets.
  4. Increase. Here is where we depart from Justa’s program as written. Instead of adding 5lbs each session, we will add 5 reps each session.

2-Week Overview of the Double Kettlebell Press Program

  • Session 2: Do 25 single reps and 5 sets of 2 reps. I like to structure it like this: 1,1,1,1,1,2,1,1,1,1,1,2,1,1,1,1,1,2,1,1,1,1,1,2,1,1,1,1,1,2. You can do the exact opposite of that too, beginning with a set of 2, then some singles, then another set of 2. For the sake of space, let’s refer to this as “1,1,1,1,1,2 x 5”, which give 30 total reps.
  • Session 3: Add 5 more total reps. which looks like 1,1,2 x 10 cycles, or 40 total reps.
  • Session 4: 1,2 x 15, for 45 total reps
  • Session 5: 1,2,2 x 10 for 50 total reps
  • Session 6: 30 sets of 2 reps.
  • Session 7: Test your 1RM and adjust as needed. Repeat the whole process with the new weight.

There will come a time when you you will not be able to make all the reps. When this happens, focus on getting as many extra reps as you can and then pick back up in the next session. Happy pressing.

IF PUTTING WEIGHT OVERHEAD IS THE KEY TO HAPPINESS… THERE ARE MANY VERY HAPPY PEOPLE AT THE SFG.

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Dave Whitley
Strong First Master Instructor. 21st Century Old Time Strongman. Owner of Nashville Kettlebell Lifter of heavy things, bender of steel, tatsujin.

Visit his website - Iron Tamer

5 thoughts on “Justa’s Singles Strategy Adapted to the Double Kettlebell Press

  • I’m just about to start this program myself after hearing Paul McIlroy speak of if many times.
    One question though in regards to smaller framed guys and ladies, would you suggest the same volume? Is there any reason to change the rep structure?

    Curious 🙂

  • I’ve seen this variation many times in the past 10 years through this community. This is another great twist on a theme of smart volume control when intensity will remain the same(for any number of reasons).

    examples of same but different:
    twice a week – Pullups – 1 rep at the top of the minute for 10 minutes. Add a couple of reps the next session. Work up to 100 reps in ten minutes (or 10×10). I think that was Christopher Summers?
    Similar to Pavel’s Fighter Pullups but this has more sets
    Charles Staley’s EDT programs.
    And again Pavel’s RoP using ladders.

  • Dave,

    I love the innovative approach here, applying Justa’s program to the KB Press.
    I have always been really interested in Justa’s program, since the frequency is so high, it’s a different approach.
    It’s great to see that it works with the modifications you made.
    I’m curious if you had any significant increase in shoulder/deltoid muscle mass during the course of the program?
    Even though the reps were lower, the volume was high and wondered how that effected muscular development.
    Thanks and great program!

    Best, Scott

  • Can I still do my Simple and Sinister routine while working on this or is it to much?

    Say Monday I do S&S, Tuesday Pressing routine, Wednesday-S&S, Thursday-Pressing Routine, Saturday Pressing Routine.

    OR I can do two sessions in one day Mon AM S&S-PM Pressing Routine, Wed same routine, Fri-same routine and Sunday same stuff.

    I have been training with bells for almost two years, I really want to take the SFG course in November but I need to work on my pressing. Any help would be great!

    Thanks

    • Scott,

      I would think that would be too much as far as having a focus for a program. Go read Enter the Kettlebell and try that program if you want to work on pressing more. It would allow you to still do a solid amount of swings and also do some getups on the off days as long as it doesn’t affect your progress in the program. Remember that each program has you working towards a goal and the programs are there because they work, if you try tweaking a program too much it will negatively affect the outcomes. Hope this helps.

      Cheers,

      Eric

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