When you hear the word plyometric, what's the first thing that comes to mind? Jumping, right? But a true plyometric exercise is when a muscle group exerts maximal force in minimal time. Plyos are commonly used for increasing lower-body power, but they can and should be used for the upper body as well.
One of my favorite upper-body plyo exercises is the Kettlebell Push Press. Itʼs explosive, powerful, easy to learn and, quite honestly, fun to do. It's perfect for any athlete because power is generated with the lower body, which then travels up through the core, finishing with an upper-body movement—similar to throwing a ball, swinging a bat or tackling an opponent. Using kettlebells rather than a barbell lets the shoulder naturally rotate, improving the Press and reducing stress on the joint.
As kettlebells start to appear in your school or local weight room, gaining knowledge about using them will increase your athletic versatility by giving you more training options in your quest to become bigger, stronger and faster.
To get started, Clean the kettlebells to rack position (read my post on the Double Kettlebell Hang Clean to learn how). In the photo above, notice that Reyʼs hips are directly under the load when the bells are in "racked" position. Your glutes should be tight, quads flexed and heels firmly set on the floor.
Drop down into a quarter-squat with elbows slightly flared to cradle the bells. Keep your weight on your heels, squeeze your glutes and drive your hips forward while punching powerfully directly overhead. Lock out your arms with your biceps next to your ears, arms straight and everything tight from your hands to your heels. Drop the bells down to the rack position and prepare for your next rep.
When developing a workout, I like to use a simple equation—Size/Time/Tempo: the size of the kettlebell, the time or duration of the work, and the tempo or cadence used. As we all know, nearly every athletic event is dictated by the clock, so train by the clock using this effective method. The biggest benefit to this equation is that it can be used for power, strength and conditioning.
The following two push and pull workouts offer examples of how to use the Kettlebell Push Press in your own training.
Kettlebell Double Clean/Kettlebell Push Press Superset
Size: Two 24kg kettlebells
Sets/Time: 4x30-second intervals with one-minute rest after each exercise
Tempo: One rep every 10 seconds
Perform exercises in superset fashion, resting one minute between exercises. Complete one rep every 10 seconds, resting the kettlebells in the rack position between reps.
Kettlebell Push Press/Jump Squat/Kettlebell Double Clean Circuit
Size: Two 16kg kettlebells
Sets/Time: 5-6x30-second intervals with one-minute rest after each exercise
Tempo: One rep every three seconds
Perform exercises in circuit fashion, resting 30 seconds between exercises. Complete one rep every three seconds, resting the kettlebells in the rack position between reps.
Michael Skogg is a kettlebell coach, author and educator with 20+ years of experience. He is the creator of the SKOGG System and a former Weider National Kettlebell Trainer. Skogg’s background is injury rehabilitation and corrective exercise as a Certified Neuro Muscular Therapist (CNMT), CHEK Level 1 and 2 practitioner and American Kettlebell Club Certified Coach (AKC).