Try-This Tuesday: Walking Seesaw Pressby Jen Sinkler
It’s a peeve of mine when fitness resources (mainly magazines) skip steps about how to begin a movement. I get it. Space. But still.
Specifically, it happens a lot with kettlebell movements that begin from the racked position. How did they get there?
Which is to say, it’s worth your while to learn the kettlebell clean. And then the double kettlebell clean.
If you’re new to this movement, I prefer teaching the dead stop, straight-line variety first. Fewer factors to consider, and a whole lot less banging of the weight against the back of the wrist. (More on how to do this version, including three simple cues that address most issues, in “Fix Your Kettlebell Clean.”)
The alternative is the swing clean, during which you first hike the weight or weights back between your legs to gain momentum and load up that rubber-band recoil of your muscles we talked about in my last email.
If you’re new to cleaning, consider beginning and ending there today. If you just need a freshening up, hit the exercise library on the Unapologetically Strong website and type in “kettlebell one-armed clean” or “kettlebell double clean.”
If you’re already proficient in the clean and double clean and raring to go, or you’re using weights you’re able to maneuver safely into position another way, let’s move on to today’s main show, the Kettlebell Walking Seesaw Press.
What I appreciate most about this movement is that you have to be ready. At all times. Meaning, you’re doing a lot of things at once, at varying times and from varying positions, and things run more smoothly when you’re prepared for it. Just like life.
You could and can, of course, perfectly map out when exactly you press, when exactly you pull the weight back into the racked position, in exactly what sequence — left foot forward, right arm up, right foot forward, left arm up (as pictured below) — and that feels really nice. You’re like a machine, you know what’s coming and when, and the cross-patterning of opposite arm, opposite leg mimics the locomotion of walking, running, crawling, and so forth. You also get to experience the full stretch and extension of your body from the top of your fist to the toes of your back foot. There are many benefits to predictability, automation.
But sometimes, with the Walking Seesaw Press, that sequencing can feel forced. You may have to adjust the size of your steps to be small, slow, to match the timing of your presses, and you have less of an experience of being able to move the weights predictably, even when your base of support is not. And that, too, is a most worthwhile endeavor, especially for core control.
If you’re into it, put this puppy in the next time you press and see how you like it.
KETTLEBELL WALKING SEESAW PRESS
- Clean two kettlebells to a racked position, thumbs pointing against your body and weights resting on the back of your (straight-as-a-board) wrists.
- Brace your midsection, imaging your torso as a can of soda, pressurized in every direction, and maintain that throughout the lift, even as you breathe, even as you walk. Include the glutes in this stiffening and go.
- As you take a step forward, press the opposite-side kettlebell overhead without letting your elbow or ribs flare out, or allowing your hips drift forward.
- Keep walking, and begin to pull the weight you’re holding aloft carefully back down to the racked position. As you’re doing so, simultaneously press the other kettlebell toward the sky.
- Don’t overthink which foot is forward when you press (alternately, press with left as you step forward with the right, and vice versa). Keep moving forward, under control, alternating which arm is pressing up and which arm is pulling the weight back down. Alternate reps until completion.