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Slaying the Beast: How To Press a 48kg Kettlebell

Slaying the Beast: How To Press a 48kg Kettlebell

Written by
July 15, 2014
Updated April 12, 2018
Category: Fitness

The 48kg Kettlebell, referred to as “The Beast,” is a massive iron ball that few athletes in the world have truly mastered. To press the Beast overhead with one arm requires a high level of upper body strength for any average to large-sized man.

My Initial Approach to Slaying the Beast

My goal was a bit loftier than pressing a single 48kg Kettlebell; I wanted to press a pair of them overhead while staying at my bodyweight of 180lbs. I had seen only a handful of men able to press a pair of beasts overhead and all of them were well over 200lbs. All I had ever pressed up to that decision was a pair of 40kg Kettlebells; a far cry from double 48’s. My available equipment did not include a pair of 44kg Kettlebells, which would have been a perfect stepping stone, so I had to improvise. Handstand push ups done to a full ROM (hands- to-shoulders) fit the bill perfectly. It was the same plane and range of motion required for the Double Beast Press.

The plan to manhandle 48’s involved Double Cleans & Jerks/Push Presses with 48kg Kettlebells and Handstand Pushups with added weight (vests, chains, ankle weights). One major advantage to Handstands and Handstand Push Ups is that the recovery time is much faster than that of pressing weights overhead. The reason for this stems from the fact that your lower body does not have to support the overhead load. The overall systemic fatigue from the exercise is much less, and is easier to recover from. The reason for the Double Cleans & Jerks/ Push Presses was to get as comfortable as possible with the clean and handling the weights overhead. A bad clean will kill any press attempt. These were performed less frequently than the Handstands because they were harder to recover from.

The Beast Challenge

Slaying the Beast: How To Press a 48kg Kettlebell

The primary reason most people attempt to press the Beast overhead is that it is a required part of the “Beast Challenge.” The Beast Challenge involves performing a Single Leg Squat (or Pistol), Pull Up, and 1-Arm Press with the 48kg Kettlebell. There are only a dozen or so athletes who have performed this feat. My sights were not specifically geared toward the Beast Challenge, but I mention it because in my quest for the Double Beast Press, I was able to perform the Beast Challenge just a few weeks later. I have watched countless people miss heavy Kettlebell presses for a variety of reasons; mainly they are either too weak or they deviate from ideal technique. The 48kg Kettlebell is massive and you have to respect the odd weight distribution. Many people end up picking up bad habits such as excessive sideways lean to compensate for the lack of strength and stability.

Why You Should Double Press Heavy Kettlebells

The really cool part about double pressing is that I have never seen anyone miss this way. By grooving lots of Double Presses, you get more consistent, quality reps in without the potential for deviation from proper trajectory. When you can press a pair of Kettlebells, pressing one at a time is insanely easy. The carryover is a one way street though; if you can press a pair of Kettlebells, you can press a single. If you can press a single, you probably can’t press a pair of that size Kettlebell. There is plenty to be gained from 1-Arm Pressing, especially Bottom-up Presses. They are an excellent way to groove the proper pattern for your press, while at the same time reinforcing proper core firing and stability during your overhead movement. In the end, the very frequent and heavy Handstand Push Ups paired with less frequent Cleans & Push Presses paid off in spades. The result was a fairly smooth Double 48kg Press:



Pressing the Beast Can Be A Daunting Task

It should only be attempted after a solid base of strength is truly owned. Supposing that you are already strong to very strong, let’s get into specifics.

First: Only focus on the Double Press, even if your goal is a 1-Arm Press.
Second: Utilize full ROM Handstand Push Ups to allow yourself to train more frequently.
Third: Use Bottom-up Presses to groove the proper 1-Arm Press trajectory.

Here is what I would suggest for a 3 day per week program geared toward a Beast Press:

Slaying The Beast Workout 1:

Superset Group A for 12-15 minutes

A1: Full ROM Handstand Push Ups x 3 reps
A2: Double 48kg Clean x 6 reps

B1: Thoracic Mobility Drill of your choice

C1: Ring Row x 80% effort x 3 rounds

D1: Bodyweight Triceps extension x 80% x 3 rounds



Slaying The Beast Workout 2:

Superset Group A 12-15 minutes

A1: Double Beast Clean & Push Press x 3 reps
A2: Rest/Mobility

B1: Ring Row x 80% effort x 3 rounds

C1: Bodyweight Ring Triceps Extension x 80% x 3 rounds



Slaying The Beast Workout 3:

Superset Group A for 12-15 minutes

A1: Weighted Handstand Push Up x 5 reps
A2: Double Beast Swing x 8-10 reps

B1: Ring Row x 80% effort x 3 rounds

C1: Bodyweight Ring Triceps Extension x 80% x 3 rounds


The real trick is to get lots of quality sets in, and not get so hung up on each individual set. The idea is to make each set look easy and enjoy the steady progress upward. The Ring Rows will facilitate lat development which provides a stable plat- form for presses as well as reinforce good posture which will make your pressing easier. The Thoracic mobility drills will also make your presses feel less restricted and easier.

The Handstand Push Ups can be done either freestanding or against a wall. Obviously if balance is an issue, the wall is the correct choice here especially when you start to add weight. It should go without saying that if you weigh well over 200lbs you probably won’t need to add any weight to your Hand- stand Push Ups to get your Beast Press!

I believe it is truly as simple as this. Get comfortable with the weights in your hands, practice frequently pressing in that vertical plane. You will be surprised at how quickly you progress if you keep it fast and easy. To the right you’ll find ex- ample videos of some of the related exercises.

Max grew up in San Diego and played sports at a very high level. Though he was a good player, he was not strong or athletic. At 17, Max decided to start working out and at 18 he became a personal trainer–all the while going to college full time. While at his new job, Max spent 3 hours every night reading about physical fitness and health. Fast forward to August of 2009 where Max’s hard work and dedication to wellness manifested itself in what is now Ambition Athletics. Since becoming a personal trainer, Max has switched his focus from basic strength training to a holistic approach of overall fitness and health. His passion has become helping people rehabilitate injuries and fix their basic fundamental movement patterns enabling them to function at an exceptional level, no matter what they are doing, whether it be playing a sport or walking up the stairs. Max is a firm believer that everyone should be strong, capable, and confident to handle any situation regardless of age or gender. Apart from being very active in Martial Arts, Max plays tennis regularly and recommends that adults spend more time in physical “play.” Max has also received an Official Commendation from the United States Marine Corps for services rendered in the course of enhancing the athletic readiness of the 1st Anglico at Camp Pendleton.
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