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Why the "Bottoms Up Press" Is Good For You

July 22, 2004 07:59 AM

For those of you unfamiliar with it, the BUP ("Bottoms Up Press") is the version of the kettlebell military press done with the kettlebell held upside down. The girevik uses the strength of his grip to keep the mass of the kettlebell fixed above the hand instead of resting the kettlebell against the forearm while pressing it overhead. The BUP is a very challenging lift due to the tricky balance and leverage demands, and for many months it was simply beyond me. It was my personal bug-a-boo, along with the snatch.

The Bottoms Up Press tests the girevik's ability to create maximum tension and proper alignment. It can also be used as a test as to whether the aspiring girevik is truly using good form and proper technique and is ready to move up to heavier kettlebells or more complex lifts such as the Bent Press.

A reasonably fit person can probably jerk or military press a 1 or 1.5 pood kettlebell overhead even if he ignores everything Pavel says in RKC and FRWTL. Not so with the BUP. If the shoulder is not properly pulled down and aligned, the bell just sits there, sneering at my attempt to press it past the sticking point halfway up. If the core muscles are not activated and the hip is not put under the weight and power breathing is ignored, the bell become a danger to life and limb at full extension. This is vivid proof of the need to perform presses the way Pavel instructs (i.e.,"The Party Is Always Right!"). It also serves as a valuable feedback mechanism for your mastery of RKC 'grind' principles - if you are doing everything right, the kettlebell goes up almost like magic. If you are leaving something out, you stall and wobble and have to bail out of the exercise and your shoulder hurts.

Recently I was finally able to perform several singles of the BUP with each hand. Improved grip strength/tension from Circular Strength Training and an increased ability to recruit maximum tension in the lower abs and glutes, combined with active assertion of the lats to keep the shoulder in the socket, and the 1 pood kettlebell went all the way up practically on its own. Trying to retain the sensations that lead to success, I moved to the 'see-saw' press with two 1.5-poods and found it much easier than before. I was also able to military press the 2-pood for more reps than ever before. The lesson was not lost on me.

As Pavel says, treat your practice as just that - a craft and an art best mastered by continued mindful review of basic principles and their applications.