Q: The Kettlebell Bent Press is very difficult for me. When I do too many my back is injured the next day. I am wondering if the Bent Press is meant to do for reps….or is it something you do only a few times per side (like a Turkish Get Up) at the end of a workout. – Jason
A: The Bent Press can be a great exercise if performed correctly, and there’s a couple of different ways to do it (more squat-focused vs more windmill-focused) depending on your current level of mobility, body shape, etc. In all cases though, it shouldn’t be causing back pain. Sebastian has a great way of describing the different ways of performing it towards the middle of this article from Sebastian Müller:
“Another special thing about the bent press is that it has no “perfect form”. Everyone does it a bit differently. Although the process is always the same, there are three options: hip dominant (similar to the windmill), thigh dominant (closer to a squatting pattern), or a version that incorporates both movement patterns.” (Read more of Sebastian’s Article)
I’d recommend really reviewing the form, and maybe even getting some coaching to make sure that everything is where it needs to be during the movement. But again it’s a very advanced movement and doing it correctly is important. It’s a controversial opinion, but I usually don’t teach this one to clients unless they specifically ask about it, or are extremely advanced and looking for a neat new challenge. Some folks believe it’s the MUST DO movement – and I’m not sure I agree. Most clients are simply not in a place to do it correctly and safely without significant coaching, practice, and time.
As for adding it to a workout session or plan, it depends on why you’re wanting to practice the move — at first I’d keep it light while you’re finding the movement pattern, if it’s very light then it can happen earlier in the workout for a few reps on each side and thought of as a mobility maneuver.
After the form is more solid and you feel comfortable going heavier, then it can be added to the main part of the workout and treated as a “grind” for low reps with heavy weight.
It’s interesting though, with a lot of the workouts I do and also lead, we use the get-up as part of the warmup and mobility training – starting the first few reps light, then ramping it up over the course of the workout. The same could be done with the bent press. I wouldn’t necessarily do this at the end when fatigue may set in.
The bent press is great, but, it does require a good bit of technical precision – which comes with time and practice. If at all possible, book some time with a qualified RKC-II instructor in your area – or online (the contact-us form here will work if you’d like to set up a session with me). But definitely go easy as to avoid future injury – and keep the reps low.
Hope that helps!