The Kettlebell 6 – Teach Yourself the Fundamentals
By: Michael “Kilgore” Miller
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of kettlebells. They’re not just a great way to build strength, but they’re also an excellent tool for developing explosive power and improving coordination.
In fact, it was my love of kettlebells that inspired me to write this book! (And yes, I did actually get some help from the guys at StrongFirst.)
I’ve been working with kettlebells since 2006 when I first started lifting weights. Over the years, I’ve developed a few different programs for myself and have used them in competition.
My favorite one?
The One Arm Dumbell Press.
What Is The One Arm Dumbell Press?
If you haven’t done so already, read up on the dumbbell press before continuing. If you don’t know what a dumbbell press is, then please continue reading…
The One Arm Dumbell Press is basically a variation of the regular dumbbell press where instead of using your arms to push the weight upwards, you use your legs to do so.
The One Arm Dumbell Press is an amazing exercise because it involves the entire body and all of its core muscles.
What’s more, even though you’re technically pressing the weight overhead, most people find that they’re weak in that area (no matter how strong they are in any other lift) and need to practice this exercise to develop that area of their strength.
The other benefit?
It’s just cool to do. You get to throw a weight over your head.
How awesome is that?
Here’s the entire process in a nutshell:
Get into position, holding the weight on top of your shoulder.
Squat down and use your legs to throw the weight over your head.
Before you try to press the weight up, move your hand from under the weight so it’s free to go up.
Using your arm, press the weight up.
Don’t lose control of the weight. Bring it back down and squat under it as it returns to your starting position.
That’s one rep.
Don’t try to do too many reps at first. Even if you can do it without losing control of the weight, it’s still a good idea to hold back a bit until you get the technique nailed down. After you’ve done it a few times, you can start practicing more and more reps.
Why Do This Exercise?
The One Arm Dumbell Press is an excellent exercise for many reasons. It will force you to focus on technique rather than just throwing the weight over your head and calling it a day. It also helps to prevent injury and allows you to practice control (which is always important when doing any overhead press).
It also helps to improve your strength in an unique way. Many exercises (like the one arm push-up) help to strengthen the muscles you use to push the weight up, but leave the muscles you use to hold the weight at bay. This exercise helps to balance out any weakness you might have and helps you get stronger in general.
The exercise also helps to build up your grip strength, which is an often under-trained area for people.
Now that you know why this is a good exercise for you, let’s look at the different types of techniques you can use when performing this exercise.
Techniques For The One Arm Dumbell Press:
There are a few different techniques used when performing the one arm dumbell press and each one has its own advantages and disadvantages. Some are easier to learn than others, but some just work better with certain people than others. Here are the three most common techniques used when performing this exercise:
Elbow Tucked In:
Most people find that they have more strength in their shoulder (and more control) when their elbow is tucked in close to their body. This allows them to really squeeze the weight in towards their body as they perform the movement.
It’s much more difficult to get the weight up in the first place. Having your elbow tucked in makes it a lot harder to get any momentum going.
If you’re a smaller person (or a woman), you’ll probably find this to be the best technique for you. It just works better with your body type. It will take some time to get used to this technique and even when you do, you’ll probably still have difficulty with the heavier weights.
For most people (men and women both), they find that having their elbow pointed out to the side as they perform the one arm dumbbell press allows them to get the weight up with a lot less effort.
While it is easier to get the weight up in this fashion, it is much harder to keep control of the weight and prevent it from crashing down on you. You’ll have to work on your core strength quite a bit so you don’t get crushed by the weight.
Also, some people will complain of elbow pain when using this technique, so if this is you then you might want to try another method.
Elbows Out & In:
This is more of a combination of the two techniques above and is done by keeping your elbow bent and having it point outwards as you lift the weight, then tucking your elbow in close to your body as you lower the weight.
This is an excellent technique to use if you’re not sure whether to focus on bringing your elbow in or extending it out. By trying both techniques, you’ll find that this one occurs naturally and with the least amount of effort.
Once you find the right technique for yourself, it will become second nature and you won’t have to think about it. Until then, keep practicing and if it really starts to bother you, take a day off and try again tomorrow. Eventually your body will adapt and be able to handle this exercise.
Sources & references used in this article:
Effects of weightlifting vs. kettlebell training on vertical jump, strength, and body composition by WH Otto III, JW Coburn, LE Brown… – The Journal of …, 2012 – cdn.journals.lww.com
Get Your Mojo Back: 5 Real-Life Tips for the Sleep Deprived by C Kobernik – breakingmuscle.com
What are the five basic fundamentals of muscle building? Find out here and learn how to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to working out! by SWWG You, IIHM Grow – bodybuilding.com
PreTrain Fundamentals by C Moore – 2015 – books.google.com
Kettlebell training by S Cotter – 2013 – books.google.com
Should kettlebells be used in strength and conditioning? by BI Campbell, WH Otto III – Strength & Conditioning Journal, 2013 – journals.lww.com
Weight training: steps to success by TR Baechle, RW Earle – 2019 – books.google.com
The Fundamentals of Vertical Jump Training by J Woodrup – 2009 – verticaljumping.com