How I learnt to love the Kettlebell military press - Rachel Kwan
Rewind 6 years ago - I loved running. That was my only form of exercise. I would happily go and
run 10-20km at a slow or moderate pace and come home feeling great. Even after night shift! In
contrast, if I tried to do a push up or lift something heavy, I would have thought I was going to
collapse or break my back.
My boyfriend (now husband) was developing a keen interest in kettlebells at this time, and
consequently for my birthday that year I received a pair of 8 kg kettlebells.
A pair of them! I found them quite heavy to carry around.The thought of pressing them overhead,
let alone both at the same time, would have overwhelmed me. They served a lot of time as
honorary door stops that first year, only occasionally being pulled out when I felt guilty for not using
my gift. Gradually I learnt about the many benefits of swinging the kettlebells, and slowly I
started to become more competent and comfortable with this exercise.
Did I mention that this was a slow process? My husband can read something, realise the benefits
and adopt it quickly. In contrast, I have a much slower pace when it comes to trying new things.
Thus it took many conversations and trials before I was actually a willing and eager participant in
these kettlebell workouts!
For two years I kept up the regular running with a side interest of kettlebells, mostly involving
a lot of swings and some Turkish get ups. My husband Piers on the other hand was getting
stronger rapidly, and was noticing changes to his speed on the soccer field as a result of his
kettlebell workouts. I finally became interested in trying some other movements to develop my
strength using the kettlebell. This is where I was introduced to the kettlebell military pressswinging
the Kettlebell up to your chest and hen pressing it up as you extend your arm overhead.
Not an easy move for a girl who had never done anything strength related before!
For a while I would have to work myself up to pressing the 8kg bells. I wouldn't say I enjoyed it for
the first few months or even a year. Then one day I realised it wasn't so hard anymore and tried to
press the 12kg bell. To my surprise, it was very achievable for me and didn't feel anywhere near as
heavy as I expected. This opened my eyes! I realised that if I kept this up, I could actually get
The beauty of the press is that it is a simple, quick movement to perform with profound effects on
your upper and lower body. The entire back and gluteal muscles are required to pull their weight,
making this an excellent exercise to perform for whole body strength. Yes it is a tough one for girls
when you first start out. Just like me, you are probably not used to maintaining tension effectively
to perform a heavy lift. I have seen firsthand however that with persistent and consistent practice
you can get much stronger in a relatively short period of time and the benefits of this are huge!
Have a couch you need to move? How about actually being strong enough to do it yourself or to
feel like you can pull your weight when moving it with a friend?
Need to carry something or someone (especially a small child...) over a long distance?
How about something simple like carrying a big bag of rice or heavy bottle in from the car with less
I was really surprised when I realised that I could enjoy strength training. Today I still love to run,
but I also love using kettlebells and feeling like I am gaining strength. Instead of struggling to
press 8kg I can comfortably press 16kg on both sides at the same time. I plan to keep getting
stronger and would love to be able to press 24kg just as comfortably in the years to come.
Don't be afraid to give something different a go, you might be surprised how much you enjoy it.