Kettlebell Military Press Mastery

Take your kettlebell military press to an amazing level by mastering the stance, the rack, the lockout, and the movement.

The Kettlebell Military Press

Great for building and toning shoulders, arms, strengthening the core muscles, and just plain getting strong the kettlebell 1-arm military press is a staple exercise.

While it seems quite easy, press the kettlebell over your head, it is rather technical.

Follow the tips in the video and this article to get your 1-arm kettlebell military press more effective in building muscle and strength.

Kettlebell Military Press Front

The Military Press Stance

Just as a building built on a crappy foundation is bound to be a crappy building, your military press will never be amazing unless you nail your stance.

Here are the key points:

  1. Your feet should be about shoulder width apart
  2. Keep your knees locked throughout the entire movement
  3. Make your chest big – think Superman revealing his S
  4. Grow as tall through your spine and body as possible – imagine a string coming out of the crown of your head pulling you up to the ceiling and your heels going down into the ground

The Rack Position

The bottom or starting position is called “the rack.”

Here are the key points:

  1. Keep your wrist straight – if it tends to extend back try setting the handle of the kettlebell a little lower on your palm
  2. Viewed from the front your forearm should be vertical – you don’t want it out or in as in losing or winning an arm wrestling match
  3. Viewed from the side your forearm should be slightly pointing backwards – just keep your elbow slightly out in front of your fist
  4. The kettlebell will rest on your bicep – turning your palm to face inward will put the bell right on the bicep
  5. As a rank beginner you can use 2 hands to cheat curl the kettlebell to the rack position but as you progress you will want to learn the dead clean and swing clean
Kettlebell Rack Side

The Lockout Position

The top position is called “the lockout.”

Here are the key points:

  1. First this is a great place to do a quick bullet point check of your stance – knees locked, chest big, spine tall… check
  2. At the top your palm should face forward – this will put the kettlebell directly over your shoulder. Turned out feels weak and turned in puts the kettlebell dangerously over your head… a bad idea.
  3. Viewed from the front your elbow should be locked and your arm straight up and down in the 12 o’clock position
  4. Viewed from the side your arm should also be in the 12 o’clock position – not pressed out in front of you like 10 or 11:30 but truly straight up and down

I highly recommend you stand facing and sideways to a mirror to check the angles of your forearms, wrist, lockout, etc.

Kettlebell Military Press Side

The Movement

Once you have the stance, rack, and lockout down mastering the movement should be your next goal.

Here are the key points:

  1. Don’t use your knees to kip the kettlebell up – your knees should be locked remember?
  2. Don’t lead with the elbow or let the elbow flare out before the kettlebell starts moving up – make the kettlebell move up first
  3. Exhale on the way up, inhale on the way down, keep your mouth closed and breathe through your nose on both
  4. Half way up your palm should be half way turned – rack = palm in, half way up = 45° turned, lockout = palm forward
  5. Keep your head straight – don’t let your head tilt towards your pressing arm
  6. It is ok to slightly kick your hip under the pressing arm – this helps to create leverage especially once you can military press a heavier kettlebell


Every time you do the kettlebell military press pick 1 or 2 of the tips from the video / article to focus on and before you know it you will have an amazing press.

Until next time go get strong by focusing on technique.