Kettlebell Shoulder Press Exercise Instructions


Kettlebell Shoulder Press

The kettlebell press is another great exercise to build formidable shoulder strength. To perform the press you must begin from the rack position, achieved by doing the kettlebell clean. However, in this variation of the exercise you will start directly from the rack position, without performing the kettlebell clean before.

In this kettlebell exercise you have two options:

  1. Alternating kettlebell shoulder press
  2. Double kettlebell shoulder press

Exercise instructions for the alternating kettlebell shoulder press

alternating kettlebell shoulder pressThe steps are as follows:

  1. Start out holding two kettlebell in a racked position, without performing the kettlebell clean before. Make sure that your body is tight, tensed from shoulders down, and elbows in. Your feet should be shoulders width apart, and your knees slightly bent. Throughout the movement, your waist will need to be supported by tightening your ab muscles. Do not, under any circumstance, try to propel the bell in the air using energy derived from your legs.
  2. From the rack position, rotate the shoulders out so the forearms are vertical and the back of your hand is facing behind you.
  3. Press only one kettlebell directly above your shoulder until your working arm is com­pletely straight. During the kettlebell press, the bell will follow a banana-shaped arc, i.e. it will get lifted outwards and then in an upward direction. As you perform the lift, keep your shoulders strong.
  4. Slowly lower the kettlebell back to the starting position. Don’t forget to maximize the negative rep.
  5. Then continue on to the other arm, alternating the presses.

Additional tips & key points

Here are a few tips that will help you during the exercise:

  • When you’re in the clean position, lower your shoulders as far down as you can so that the muscles in and around the shoulders are stretched out. This will allow you to load up the muscles and have better leverage.
  • At the stretched out position, your elbows should touch the hipbone.
  • Bring out your back muscles (laterals) so that they stretch completely outwards. This will bring in much needed stability to the workout.
  • Hold the handles of each kettlebell as tightly as possible so that you don’t drop them over your head during lifting.
  • When lifting the kettlebell, instead of focusing on actually lifting it. focus on resisting moving into the ground.

Exercise Variations

Double kettlebell shoulder press exercise instructions

Double kettlebell shoulder press

  1. Start out holding two kettlebells in a racked position. Keep your core engaged and your feet about shoulder width apart.
  2. Press both kettlebells directly above your shoulders until your arms are completely straight.
  3. Once the kettlebells are locked out, slowly lower them back to the starting (a rack) position and repeat.

Muscles engaged

There are not many muscles that the kettlebell overhead press does not activate if performed correctly.

However, the main muscles that do most of the heavy lifting are the shoulders (deltoids) and the back (latissimus dorsi & trapezius) and the arms (triceps).

Kettlebell shoulder press Vs Barbell (dumbbell) shoulder press

The kettlebell press is unlike a normal barbell or dumbbell shoulder press. This is mainly because of the offset nature of the kettlebell. With the weight of the bell resting against the back of your arm, a kettlebell is always trying to pull you out of your groove and into a potentially dangerous position.

Closing thoughts

The kettlebell shoulder press in an outstanding exercise aimed to build shoulder strength, in addition to the laterals and biceps. In order to perform the exercise, you need to start off with the rack or clean position.

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