To Press a Lot, You Must Press RESET a Lot
Jan 24, 2022
And now, a guest article by friend, phenom, and OS Instructor, Aleks Salkin...
If you’ve spent even one half of a split frickin’ second in the kettlebell world, odds are you’ve immediately been possessed by the press.
And let’s face it, it makes sense: pressing some heavy weight overhead is just plain cool.
What’s NOT cool, however, is hurting your shoulders in the process – a much more common outcome than most in the kettlebell world would like to admit.
A number of years ago, a now-former higher up in the kettlebell world noted that an alarming majority of people were coming into the level 2 kettlebell certifications with at least SOME sort of shoulder pain or injury (and the level 2 is where you have to one-arm press ½ your bodyweight if you’re a man, 1/3 your bodyweight if you’re a lady).
Now, part of the problem (in my correct opinion) is that a lot of people simply don’t train intelligently, and they let strength and perfectly avoidable muscle imbalances creep into their Soft Machine and take over, throwing a proverbial wrench in said machine and sabotaging their efforts.
People overdo it on pressing movements (military press, pushups, bench press, etc.) and underdo it on pulling movements (pullups, rows, face pulls, and the like).
And while getting generally strong with a variety of pushing and pulling movements will take you a long way, make no mistake, friendo: If you want to press a lot (of weight), you’re going to have to press a lot (of reps).
I would also point out that you’re gonna want to Press RESET a lot to keep your body working like a well-oiled machine while also smoothing out the groove of your press itself.
One of the best ways to do this is to practice resets that work to specifically improve your press. To that end, we can divide them into two different categories:
- Best practices
- Individualized RESETS
Best practices are tested-and-proven strategies that work well for a lot of people.
To give you an example, LOADS of people make huge progress in their squats when they start rocking. And it makes sense because rocking and squatting are essentially the same pattern in a different position.
See the similarity?
This is a broad brush that you can confidently use to ‘paint’ a program for yourself or your students and can reasonably expect it to work well for most people. Not everybody, but most people.
Then there are individual needs.
Using the squat as an example again, I remember watching an Original Strength video not too long ago where Tim talked about having met with a chap who had tried ALMOST everything to get him to squat all the way to the ground. At that time this fellow was stuck at not even being able to go to the halfway mark in his squats, and all the rocking in the world didn’t help him.
So Tim – wise ol’ owl that he is – had him try some elevated rolls instead.
And lo and behold – the guy squatted butt to ground with ease!
Because Original Strength is NOT an algorithm, even best practices will fall short if what your body needs is to fill a gap of some sort.
With this in mind, I recently went through a tough pressing program to prepare myself to one-arm press a 40 kg kettlebell for my SFG II recertification (with a program care of world-renowned strength and body transformation coach Paul McIlroy of the Emerald Isle).
I knew that in order to keep my pressing groove looking and feeling pristine, I’d do better with some trusty resets by my side.
Using the two-step process above – that is, using both well-worn best practices AND some individualized resets – here is what I did:
- At the start of each day, I’d do 5 minutes of slooooow commando rocks
- Before each set of presses (which were done in short bursts throughout the day), I’d do 5 commando rocks and 5 dead bugs per side.
Why commando rocks? Because just like rocking grooves the squat pattern, commando rocking grooves the overhead pressing pattern.
Why dead bugs? Because a great many people lose abdominal tension when pressing – a common error that will torpedo your pressing power and keep your iron implement glued to your chest rather than in its natural habitat – i.e. hoisted triumphantly aloft over your noggin.
Commando rocks (left) and dead bugs (right)
As for the individualized RESET:
3. 6-point off-center neck nods
In other words, get into the position (above), and rather than simply looking over the shoulder, look up at the ceiling then down at the ground while keeping your head looking over your shoulder.
Now, I’m gonna tell you right now: you may very well not need this. But I sure did.
I started to notice that while my lateral flexion (that is, my spine’s ability to bend directly to the side) was a-okay when I bent to my left side when I tried bending to the right side I felt stuck! I had about half as much range of motion when attempting to bend to my right.
“Who cares?” you might ask. “Why do you even need to bother with that?”
Because if you’re trying to do a HEAVY one-arm military press, you’re going to need a fair bit of lateral flexion of the spine. Blame Sir Isaac Newton and his pesky physics for that.
With this in mind, I noticed that pressing on my right side felt much, much stronger, in no small part due to my unencumbered lateral flexion toward my left.
Pressing on my left side, however, was quite a bit more of a struggle.
Once I started instituting this 6-point off-center neck nod in my pre-set RESET routine, presses on my left got much, much smoother.
So Paul McIlroy’s pressing program was my machine, and the OS resets were like the oil that kept it running smoothly.
And, of course, this story has a happy ending as I nailed that 40 kg press with plenty more strength in the tank.
To make a long story short, no matter what your strength goal may be, you’re gonna need to be able to MOVE – and move well at that. What better way to improve how you move than by moving how you were MADE to move – namely through the fundamental movement patterns represented in the Original Strength RESETS?
Now, you might be asking “should I try your routine for my presses?” To that I would say absolutely; it is worth a shot.
And unless you’re on a schedule like I was, you don’t have to limit yourself to just those resets either.
One of my favorite ways to increase my strength, stamina, and resilience from head to toe is with gait pattern movements, such as crawling, marching, loaded carries, and so on.
Not only do these movements encourage every inch of your body to work together as a singular, solid unit, but in a relatively short amount of time they can dole out some really serious strength gains.
Using the military press as an example, OS Coach Karen Rossler once built up to a 20 kg (44 lb) one-arm military press by doing nothing but backward crawling in her training!
World-renowned strength coach Dan John likes to use marching in between sets of squats to make his and his students’ squatting much easier.
The list of benefits could go on and on, but you get the picture.
If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed and in need of some guidance on how to apply these gait pattern moves to your own training, my 9-Minute Kettlebell & Bodyweight Challenge may be just what the proverbial doctor ordered.
You can get a free copy at www.9minutechallenge.com, and the coolest part is that you can add it onto whatever current program you’re doing and it won’t interfere; in fact, it will probably enhance your current workout routine.
Pretty nifty, huh?
If you're a coach, therapist, or trainer and you want to learn how to use the OS RESETS and techniques with your clients and patients consider attending a course. You can find out the schedule here: https://originalstrength.net/courses/
Go forth and rock! And as always, have fun and happy training.
Aleks “The Hebrew Hammer” Salkin is a level 2 StrongFirst certified kettlebell instructor (SFG II) and an Original Strength Instructor.
He grew up scrawny, unathletic, weak, and goofy until he was exposed to kettlebells and the teaching and methodology of Pavel in his early 20s, and took his training and movement skills to the next level upon discovering Original Strength in his mid-20s.
He is currently based out of Omaha, Nebraska where he spends his time teaching students online and in person, as well as spreading the word of strength, movement, and healthy living.
He is the author of the popular free ebook The 9-Minute Kettlebell and Bodyweight Challenge as well as numerous articles scattered around the farthest-flung reaches of the web.
Find him online at www.alekssalkin.com