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Pressing the BEAST

September 26, 2006 08:25 AM

A common question I was asked at the April 2006 RKC was how did you press the BEAST? What did I do to prepare for the BEAST Challenge? Well, to tell you the truth I had never even seen and therefore never touched the BEAST before the RKC.

In February (the 18th to be precise) I achieved my first PR for the Military Press with the 40kg completing 3 sets for 2 reps/side. That was the first and only time I had ever pressed, jerked or push pressed the 40kg. In fact prior to late January I rarely ever used any weight above the 24kg for any overhead movement (i.e. snatch, windmill, military press).

Leading up to the April RKC my Military Press training regimen consisted of a mix of 24kg and 32kg kettlebells. The typical workout consisted of 5 sets of 5 reps/side.

Feb 26th: 32kg:/5/5x5
Mar 4th: 32/5/5x4
Mar 29th: 32/5/5x5
Apr 1st: 24/5/5x5
Apr 6th: 32/5/5x5
Apr 10th: 24/5/5x3
Apr 19th: 24/10/10x3

An important point to understand is that strength is a skill and without application of proper techniques, form, etc. success is limited. When I think of what it means to be strong in a press and the general skill of strength with a kettlebell I think of four basic principles. The four principles: root the feet, create full body tension, link the body, and pressurize.

1. Root yourself to the floor with your feet.
Make sure you feel the balls of your feet and your heels in constant contact with the ground. This will help your to engage your hips (glutes), help keep the KB traveling in a properly aligned path, therefore not pulling you off balance and will also help your knees track properly, which enables you to contract the appropriate muscles in the body.

2. Link your body together.
Make sure to fully contract your muscles, which will link your body together and lock (stabilize) your joints helping to distribute the forces throughout your body and not placing stress on a particular joint. Think proper alignment and positioning, which relates to physics (center of mass, center of gravity, flowing motion, leverage, etc.)

3. Tension.
Create full body tension. For instance when doing the Military Press make sure to engage the opposite side (clench the glutes, tighten the quads, tense the opposite arm, and crush the grip with both hands), this is not the time to be loose and relaxed. This will get your body linked together and make you much stronger. This will enable a much better muscular contraction (i.e. use more of your muscle fibers). So make sure to finish each move with a linked, rooted and tense body. You should feel strong and in control with the stress of the movement distributed throughout the body, not isolated.

4. Breathe.
Breathe deep into your belly (think belly button), by sniffing in air through your nose and exhale with some force through your mouth and feel your abs stay tight, stay strong. This breathing will help make you stronger, more forceful and most important will help to protect your core, your spine by volumizing that area with air which creates pressure and protection. Make sure to breathe strong and deep (through your diaphragm) so you can use your core the way it is supposed too.

In order to press the BEAST I knew that I would need every ounce of strength and every possible advantage, strategy, technique available. The use of these principles enabled me to create a strong and stable base/platform to press off. This is an important point, because the Military Press begins from the ground up and the stronger your connection with the ground (rooting) the easier it is to apply the principles of linking and tensing and the end result is a stronger press. Without the knowledge of these principles, the consistent application of them in my kettlebell exercises, and the focus necessary to place all my attention to the details, the little things that make one strong, I am confident that I would have failed to press the bell.

My recommendation for increasing ones strength is to focus on learning the technical aspects of strength especially related to the lifts in your program. It is the little things that make the biggest difference.


Joe Sarti, RKC is the strength and conditioning coach for Frank Shamrock's MMA team. Joe is based in San Jose, his e-mail is joefitnes@yahoo.com.
 
 

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