Tip: Master the Death Press

Add this exercise to your arsenal to build strong and stable shoulders.

By now you've heard about the benefits of the bottom-up kettlebell press. Here's T Nation coach Christian Thibaudeau demonstrating the kneeling version of it:

It's a great exercise for building rock-solid, stable shoulders, especially when you go heavy.

But the first time you try it, it might be very humbling. What happens when you get stuck? Maybe one side lifts the weight with ease but the other side is nowhere close. Or, you're repping out one weight for sets but the jump to the next size up kettlebell is just too much.

A great trick is to simply place a coin on top of the kettlebell. Automatically, you have an external cue to focus on. This will instantly make you better at the exercise simply by involving your brain.

For progressively loading the movement, the use of fractional plates is brilliant. Balancing a 0.5kg plate on the top of the kettlebell is enough to create extra awareness and engagement in your shoulders and core. After a few reps you can remove the fractional plate and try with a heavier kettlebell that you couldn't lift before – it all of a sudden becomes accessible.

I've had many athletes get stuck at a certain weight for months at a time. But after using this trick, they were able to increase the weight and hit a new one rep max in just one workout.

Why Call It the Death Press?

Yes, it looks a little dangerous. You could get smacked in the face. But this technique took me from a 28kg max bottom-up press to a 32kg press in less than twenty minutes.

Don't be heroes with this one. If you can't easily balance a coin then don't add fractional plates yet. No one has dropped a plate on his or her face in my gym yet, and I'd like to keep it that way. So please be sensible.

Tom Morrison is a British weightlifting coach, martial artist, and CrossFit trainer and competitor. Tom works with athletes on prerequisite movement capabilities for optimal strength, performance, and reduced risk of injury.  Follow Tom Morrison on Facebook