Exercise You Should be Doing: Banded One Arm Kettlebell Press

The number of adults with shoulder problems is astronomical.

The shoulder is an important but vulnerable joint. A crap ton (that’s the technical term) of nerves, muscles, ligaments and bony attachments meet in the general shoulder area.

The shoulder blade itself has 17 (SEVENTEEN!) muscular attachments that connect to it. That’s a lot of intricate musculature that requires a lot of care, mobility, stability and strength in order to function without pain.

Your shoulder can hurt for a variety of different reasons.

One of the overlooked reasons for shoulder pain is shoulder instability. Today I’m going to show you an exercise that will address instability and imbalance in the shoulder joint itself.

This exercise can be used as part of a rehab protocol to stabilize your shoulder joint.

It can also be used as a killer chest and shoulder exercise. It’s great because it simultaneously strengthens all 4 heads of the rotator cuff, while training your upper chest and shoulders to be strong. By pressing from the floor and not a bench you’ll also be limiting the risk from the movement, since you’ll be pressing in a completely safe range of motion.

It’s a great “bang for your buck” movement.

The Banded One Arm Kettlebell Press:

How to Do It:

  1. Lay flat on the ground. Bend your knees and bring them close to your butt to make your spine lay flat on the ground. Make sure your spine is straight and your shoulders are directly above your hips.

  2. Attach a band 3-4 inches from the ground to a rack, another weight or something that’s not going to move.

  3. Place a kettlebell between you and the band.

  4. Grab the band and the kettlebell at the same time. The band should be directly across your palm.

  5. Press the kettlebell as if you were doing a bench press. It should finish directly over your shoulder. Do not try to bring it to the center of your body.

  6. Slowly lower the kettlebell to the starting point. Your elbow and upper arm should be flat on the ground.

Why it works:

  1. Pressing with one arm teaches your core to properly engage in order to keep your back flat on the ground and your spine straight.

  2. The added resistance of the band teaches your lat and pec to fire in unison in order to keep your shoulder centrated in the joint.

  3. The added band resistance also forces your inner chest to work harder to extend the kettlebell overhead into a proper lockout position directly above your shoulder.

  4. The eccentric (lowering) portion of the movement requires you to stay engaged physically and mentally as the band resistance DOES NOT decrease as you return to the starting position.

Coaching Cues:

  1. Keep your back flat on the ground.

  2. Press your upper back into the ground as you press.

  3. Keep the elbow about 45 degrees at the side of your body.

  4. Engage the shoulder blades as you lower the weight, imagine that you’re “rowing” the weight back to the floor.

  5. Breathe into your stomach and brace your core as you press.

This movement trains the chest while keeping your shoulder in a safe position. It also helps to centrate your shoulder in the shoulder joint, which will alleviate a lot of pain. The single limb aspect will also teach your body to properly utilize the core to keep the ribcage stable and functioning properly.

If you have any shoulder pain, or are just looking for a movement to spice up your chest day give this one a shot.

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Patrick Henigan