Hardstyle 101: The Press

Hardstyle 101: The Press

In our first Hardstyle 101 post with Zack Henderson he broke down the Kettlebell Snatch. If this is your first time reading in the Hardstyle 101 series, we recommend you start there as Zack covers a couple of introduction items other than just the execise itself. In this post, Zack breaks down The Press.

Zack has previously shown us how applying kettlebell movements can help improve your power lifting numbers. We love working with Zack because of his knowledge and understanding of not only kettlebells movements but how they can be applied to different aspects of working out as well as being able to thoroughly explain them.

By Zack Henderson:

The Press

The one-arm military press is one of the best places to practice the subtleties of tension techniques and experience the immediate difference in performance.

Once in the racked position, the goal of tension is to provide a stable “platform” for the press and keep the shoulder in a safe position.

Here, the aforementioned “active static” idea is applied practically through the entire body. The toes grip the ground with the intention of “burning a hole in the floor” in order to promote a sense of rootedness. The quads, glutes, and abs, aka “The Holy Trinity of Strength,” are contracted to keep the pelvis and low back locked.

But why involve the entire body to such a degree when the military press is a simple shoulder exercise?

Because this is the groundwork for learning how to channel your strength.

Such an approach runs in close parallel to many philosophies in powerlifting training. Working high tension techniques with submaximal weights better prepares one for handling heavier loads. When you treat your warm-ups like max attempts, that new PR will feel like home.

Once the skills are learned, you can begin to dial in the “sweet spot” - the amount of tension needed to lift the weight without going overboard and slowing yourself down.

Watch a demo of The Press below!

Common Misconception

A push back against hardstyle comes from the assumption that one needs to be tight 24/7 and power-breathe just to turn a doorknob.

While there are some athletes that overuse tension, they are still missing half the equation.

Remember, the goal is to return to baseline as quickly as possible. In the micro, this means staying loose and relaxed between sets. In the macro, this means staying fresh between sessions and prioritizing recovery and relaxation in life.

Relaxation is its own skill that requires consistent practice. To that end, here is a relaxation meditation sequence that you can use to develop internal awareness and remove tension:

Focus your attention on your toes. Mentally “feel” them.

Take a deep breath and think “I am relaxing my toes.”

Take another deep breath and think “My toes are relaxing.”

Repeat with every joint/muscle in your body all the way up to the crown of your head

While this may seem tedious, you are building stronger parasympathetic control that you can then utilize in your training to quickly relax certain areas.

Would you have guessed a discourse on hardstyle would include meditation? Most people stop the hardstyle conversation at high tension and acceleration, but the real magic is in the ability to go from one extreme to the other and to know how to work in between.


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Zack Henderson, SFG II, SFL, SFB, enjoys coaching people of all skill levels to become stronger than ever. His students include powerlifters, kettlebell enthusiasts, and the everyday athlete who wants to look and feel better.  

Zack trains locally in Nashville, TN and offers online training at his website. To learn more, check out The Kettlebell Core Challenge, a free 21-day challenge to obliterate weakness, lose fat, and forge an iron core with the power of the kettlebell!

Kettlebell Kings has the most highly & frequently reviewed kettlebells in the world. We have free shipping in the US & Canada (www.kettlebellkings.com), Europe (www.kettlebellkings.eu) and Australia (www.kettlebellkings.com.au). Check out our 4,000 reviews for quality and customer service here!