Pentathlon Series Part Five – Push Press

It’s been a long time coming but here we are… part five of the pentathlon series! The fifth and final (and when you complete a pentathlon you’ll appreciate the ‘final’) event in the pentathlon is the humble Push Press. As always please read the earlier parts in this series, in particular part two and part three first.

The push press is a great midway point between the press (C+P) and the jerk. It builds upon the foundational overhead stability and strength that you build with the press and starts to integrate that with the full body power and explosiveness of the jerk. I prefer to teach the push press before the jerk. They both provide a superior conditioning effect than the press due to the fact that with the help of the legs you can do many more reps than you could manage with the press alone. The push press is however simpler to learn due to the lack of  a second dip and therefore is one of the first explosive or ballistic exercises that I teach.

Much of the technical aspects of the push press are the same as for the press or jerk, so make sure you do read the earlier posts as I will not bore you by going into the same details again here.

Firstly though, as with learning all exercises, we must identify our target positions. These are the start and finish positions of the exercise. For a single phase exercise such as the push press there are two targets, the rack position and the overhead position. It’s important to note that if you review a more complex exercise such as the clean and jerk there are extra targets due to the two phases.

Secondly let’s look at preparing to send the bell overhead. The first part of the push press is the dip. This is (or at least should be) identical to the first dip in the one arm jerk. The knees bend, the elbow stays connected to the body and the heels stay flat on the floor. A couple of points to note:


  • Keep the elbow or upper arm connected to your iliac crest or torso. Without this connection you will sacrifice power and efficiency on the drive.
  • Allow your knees to follow your feet. This means no collapsing of the knees inward.


  • Allow the heels to rise. If you do you will negate the effects of the calf stretch and again rob yourself of power.
  • Dip slowly. The dip should almost be a ‘drop’. You can’t perform a vertical jump with a slow or paused dip. Which leads me to…
  • Stand with your feet too far apart. A hip width stance will allow optimal transfer of power from your legs to the kettlebell. Too wide and you sacrifice power. Again, try jumping with a wide stance.

Thirdly comes the drive. The drive is almost the same as the drive in the jerk except that in this instance the heels must stay on the floor. The hip will still kick the bell up for you but you must then straighten the legs and finish the push press with the arm and shoulder. The drive bypasses the sticking point and strong triceps kick in to finish the lockout. Some people struggle with the difference between the push press and the jerk, in the former the legs lock before the arm, in the latter the arm locks out before the legs due to the second dip action. The push press is complete when the legs are straight and the arm has fixated the kettlebell overhead in what should by now be a very familiar position.

Lastly the kettlebell must be returned to the rack position via one of the three methods mentioned in part two. Aspire to use the jamming method of the calf raise to meet the falling bell. You will save precious deltoid and quad energy for future reps. Remember that if 1RM strength or hypertrophy are your goal then this method is not appropriate, but if more reps in the push press are your goal (as in the pentathlon) then it is essential.

Once the bell lands in the rack you can take a breath or two and go back for another rep. The push press after the other four exercises is extremely demanding but it is also the last in the pentathlon so give it your all. Enjoy!

If you are interested in learning the kettlebell exercises or even have an itch to compete please contact us for further info. We have a great beginners competition on Anzac weekend and are currently offering a complimentary intro session for anyone who desires to learn more about this magnificent conditioning and strength tool.


By | 2016-12-19T17:05:14+00:00 April 9th, 2014|Blog|0 Comments

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