Is there a way to add some variation to your squats and presses,
...while at the same time reducing the overall strain on the joints involved,
...AND clearing up some of the technique flaws or nagging pains with those exercises?
There may be.
Recently we have been experimenting with a few different exercises, and due to C.J.'s thought process and input, these variations are well on their way to becoming staples around NSS.
One of these exercise variations is the kettlebell (KB) bottoms up position. As you can see in the photo heading this page, to perform the bottoms up position you hold the KB by the handle, with the bottom of the bell pointing to the sky.
At first glance this carry variation comes off as a bit circusy, but after using it regularly in our own training and in the training of our clients, we are realizing its potential for great value.
Some of the benefits include:
- Greater grip strength/forearm work
- Reduced overall load on the body, while maintaining difficulty
- Increased activity of joint stabilizing processes
- Increased focus on the activity at hand
- VERY self limiting! (in a good way) If you can't balance or grip the KB, the exercise becomes nearly impossible.
Once seeing it's value, we mainly began using the bottoms up position to change up our farmers walks. Simply holding the KB bottoms up in the rack position, completely changes the carry, and challenges you in a few different ways, including grip strength and balance. What we also began to realize was that these changes can be applied to almost any kettlebell lift, including squatting.
A good progression to follow with the bottoms up series looks like this:
- Static Holds (bell is held in bottoms up, with no movement, for time)
- Walking (once you have mastered 30 solid seconds of static hold, begin walking)
- Squatting (after you can go 30 yards each hand, try a bottoms up squat)
- Pressing* (the most difficult, and great for the shoulder!)
*If you have shoulder concerns, it may be wise to work in some over head static holds and walking, before progressing to the press.
So next time you are training give the bottoms up position and progressions a try. It's a great opportunity to reduce the load, while still keeping you focused and working hard.