“What Am I Doing Wrong With My Kettlebell Workouts?”

“What Am I Doing Wrong With My Kettlebell Workouts?”

Got this email from Frank the other day that I thought you might find helpful:

“Hey Geoff,

I’m 5’5, 130 lbs. After two years of training, I can double clean and press 24kg 4-5 times max.

I want to be strong enough to protect my family and friends, say, carrying a loved one, or stopping an assault..

5x32kg seems impossible, what am I doing wrong?

By the way, I’m 38 y/o.”

Here was part of my initial response:

“I’d say that’s pretty good work right there – 81.5% of your bodyweight for reps.

To get stronger, it’s just going to take practice and volume. The old saying is true: “To press a lot, you must press a lot.”

The “practice” part is making sure your technique is dialed in. The “volume” part is going to be just lifting more.”

But after thinking about it, we can elaborate even more.

[1]  81.5% of your bodyweight on a Clean + Press for 4-5 reps is actually darn good for the average man.

In fact, it’s well above average, because the average man, according to the NIH, is either overweight or obese. Which of course means, unless he’s a competitive powerlifter or strongman, he’s nowhere close to Clean and Pressing 81.5% of his bodyweight overhead for reps – let alone one rep.

[2]  To get stronger, it’s just going to take practice and volume. The old saying is true: “To press a lot, you must press a lot.”

How much pressing is “a lot?”

Plan on at least 2x week. 

Preferably 3x week. 

Between 20 to 60 reps or so, per session.

[3]  The “practice” part is making sure your technique is dialed in. The “volume” part is going to be just lifting more.”

Clean and Press technique is a fascinating study in balancing tension and relaxation.

The Clean is explosive, so you have to move quickly. 

Speed and power movements/exercises require you to be “relaxed.” 

Think of a sprinter.

The tighter you are, the more the action slows down, and approaches “isometric” – neither lengthening or shortening – where zero movement occurs, like bracing your abs for a punch.

And in order to be as relaxed as possible while still moving quickly, you have to be in the correct position to start so you can move through another series of (correct) positions.

The Press on the other hand, is an exercise in tension.

You need to turn your body into a rigid structure, or platform, from which you can hoist your KBs overhead.

This actually requires a series of isometric muscle actions.

And that takes practice. 

So one of the simplest ways to get stronger (along with lifting more) is learning which muscles to contract… How hard to contract them… And when to contract them… 

While of course being in and maintaining the optimum position to Press.

Strength, after all, is a skill.

If you want to learn these skills, along with using the “appropriate” volume, I’ll make the same recommendation I made to Frank:

Get this program.

https://salutis.kartra.com/page/YhN159

It’s been time-tested by thousands of people.

Stay (and GET!) Strong,

Geoff

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