Exercise Spotlight: Half Kneeling Bent Press

Fix your core, spine, and hip health all with one move. Talk about Bang for your Buck.

This week’s spotlight focuses our attention on the trunk musculature, but in truth, this movement attacks a little bit of everything.

Too often, I meet lifters who are so wound up through their hips and immobile through their thoracic spines that their abs don’t really have the chance to properly function and transfer forces correctly. I’ve found that going straight to the throat with a dead bug or leg raise variation can be beneficial, however, I’ve found even more benefit from forcing the torso to work as a unit. That’s exactly what this exercise does.

Enter the Half Kneeling Bent Press

This lift requires mobility through the T-spine, hips and shoulder joint, along with deltoid, abdominal and oblique strength to perform a stable and controlled movement.  I can’t really think of too many other unilaterally loaded movements that offer the amount of benefits at the same time.  As you’ll see in the video, I’m making sure to pay attention to one very important training point: I’m moving through each rep slowly. It’s important to imagine you’re moving through mud, so that every piece of the ideal range of motion is accounted for thoughtfully.

I like this lift more than a Turkish Get up (which is also great!) because there’s no dynamic lower body involvement. Simply put, you get to stay in the half kneeling position the whole time, making your body have fewer excuses to compensate when it comes to getting the elbow down on the floor. The load is also on the same side as the leading leg, not the opposing side.

Half Kneeling Bent Press: Coaching Cues

  • Take a knee with a kettlebell or dumbbell in rack position on the same side as the lead leg. The kneeling leg should be angled out, so the hips are open.
  • Stay tall, and lock your lat in by squeezing the armpit down tight. It should be working hard before you even begin moving.
  • Clear your front leg with your elbow. That means turning the body in the direction of that leg (left leg – turn left) so that your torso is facing it.
  • Slowly move your body away from the bell, reaching for the floor with your free forearm. Keep your eyes on the bell at all times, and avoid trying to turn it into a shoulder press. Try to keep the weight in the same place in space.
  • Pause on the floor for a 2 second count, then use your obliques to get up to return to the start position.

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