How to Do the Kettlebell Chair Press

Kettlebell chair press

Is it ever OK to sit down on the job? When it comes to kettlebell training, sometimes sitting down can get you stronger. How so? 

The Kettlebell Chair Press is an effective upper body strength and endurance developer, which demands more upper body involvement than the traditional Standing Press. 

In the Standing Press, the legs offer additional stability. It incorporates more of the total body in completing the lift. The Kettlebell Chair Press demands additional core stability by taking the legs out of the movement, requiring the upper body muscles to work harder in order to move the load. 


To perform the Kettlebell Chair Press, stand a few feet in front of a sturdy box or bench and Clean two kettlebells of the same weight to your chest into the Rack position. Then move back toward the box and sit down on top of it, keeping the feet firmly planted on the floor and the upper body completely upright.

Chest is lifted, shoulders are pulled back and down. Make sure the box or bench selected has no back support, which makes the posture lazy. With no back support, you have to create your own stability through maintaining an upright posture.


From this stable starting position, press both kettlebells overhead until the arms are fully extended into the Lockout position. Take a complete breath while holding in the top position, then move your head and shoulders back slightly as the kettlebells fall down to the chest with a sharp exhale. That is one repetition.

Complete additional repetitions until complete, then stand up and walk a few steps forward before lowering the kettlebell to the floor. 


For maximum benefit, coordinate your breathing with the movement.

  1. Starting from Rack position, take a deep inhale into your belly, then exhale as you compress your rib cage and thoracic spine downwards, like loading a spring.
  2. Immediately follow this compression with a rapid upward expansion, inhaling as your chest “bumps” the kettlebells upward.
  3. Finish the Press with a strong exhale into Lockout.
  4. Take a full breath (one deep inhale and one exhale) while staying in Lockout, before a sharp exhale as the kettlebells fall back down into Rack position.
  5. Take one or several breaths in the Rack position before the next Press.

Chair pressing is a different way to include variation in your kettlebell workouts and it makes an excellent upper body strength exercise that fits well in any program. It can be performed with a single kettlebell, pressing one arm at a time, or with double kettlebells as described above. 

Practice Guidelines 

  • Maintain total body tension during the pressing action by squeezing the grip, the abdominals and the glutes. This full body squeezing is called irradiation and is used in heavy lifting to amplify the effect of the working muscles by tensing the muscles surrounding them. 
  • Maintain a “packed” arm and shoulder girdle connection by contracting the lats under the armpits. By packing the arms into these upper back muscles, it initiates a pressing action and relieves the shoulders.
  • Aim first for strict reps, keep reps low in the three to five rep-range for one to five sets. Once you can complete 5 sets of 5 reps with good form (no partial range movements), increase either the repetition per set or the weight used. 

Common Errors to Avoid

Here are some of the most common mistakes to avoid while performing the Chair Press:

  • Do not lean back during the press. Instead, keep your spine upright and abdominals firm and ‘braced’, as if you are preparing to absorb a punch to the gut.
  • Avoid shifting your hips to one side or the other. Instead, keep both feet flat on the floor, with both hips squared to the front of the room and abdominals firm.
  • Work to improve bilateral deficit, which is the difference in the strength and endurance from the weaker or nondominant arm, as compared to the stronger, dominant arm. The best way to improve this bilateral deficit is to train unilateral Chair Press, pressing one arm at a time. You can do an extra set or two on the non-dominant arm to develop more equality over time. 

For your next Kettlebell Press workout, have a seat and do Chair Press instead. 

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