Half-Kneeling Bottoms-Up Kettlebell Press: As pointed out in my article, Best and Worst Upper Body Strength Exercises for Athletes, overhead pressing with a barbell is harmful for athletes because it restricts shoulders in a fixed path of movement. All overhead movement is contraindicated for athletes who have limited shoulder mobility and for those who have a history of shoulder pain or injury.
Note: Strength coaches sometimes exclude overhead lifting for overhead athletes. Although being an overhead athlete is not reason in itself to avoid training overhead, many overhead athletes, over time, experience shoulder joint wear and tear that can cause deficits in mobility and scapular upward rotation. Those deficits can make overhead lifting risky for shoulders. Only athletes who pass my overhead mobility tests are permitted to lift overhead. For those who have been cleared for overhead lifting, Bottoms-Up Kettlebell Press is the primary exercise I endorse.
- From half-kneeling position (left leg forward and right leg back) grip a kettlebell in your right hand—parallel grip and bottom of kettlebell up, just in front of your right shoulder (like first picture above).
- Engage muscles around mid-section (as if expecting a punch to the gut). When Kettlebell Press is done improperly, the ribcage flares upward and the back hyperextends, which indicates a lack of core recruitment and increases risk of back injury. In a proper Kettlebell Press, the spine remains neutral from neck to tailbone, and the scapula rotates upward and downward on the rib cage.
- With core engaged, press kettlebell overhead as shoulder blades upwardly rotate—imagine shoulder blades reaching up and wrapping around rib cage. Keep shoulder and hips square (don’t lean).
- Slowly return to starting position.
- Repeat for desired reps then switch leg positions and repeat on the left side.