Paul Makepeace ;-)

January 30, 2005

Kettlebell pushups

Posted in: Sport

Kettlebell PushupWhen you can do more than 20 reps of a given exercise any further progress is strictly in the realm of muscular endurance rather than strength gains. Building strength means increasing resistance. This is a bit tricky with pushups, a bodyweight exercise.

So, having been staring at Henry Rollins's arms at one of his spoken word gigs the last three hours something had to be done. And that almost certainly would involve a kettlebell...

I needed to add my kettlebell's 16kg mass into the mix somehow. Stuffing it into my training fleece was an option, albeit it an incredibly dumb and probably stupid-looking one, as was wrapping a belt around my head. I was about to try that when I thought "why not grip it with my jaw?"

I tried with a sock first: too springy and slack. Having seen a circus performer spinning from the Big Top held up only by her jaw and a leather strap it was obvious that that would be the ideal choice. Even if I'd felt like carving up a belt none of mine are wide enough (of course I had to stuff a couple in my mouth to find this out...).

Then I got it: I have a pile of car footwell rubber mats in the shed (don't ask) and at only a pound each I can afford to hack them up. After a few experiments, a bunch of prototypes, and a puddle of rubbery saliva it was ready.

Kettlebell Jawstrap
The Homemade Kettlebell Jawstrap!

It's about 25cm long and the groove cut-out is where your tongue goes, an attempt to reduce the gag reflex.

A few bricks are needed to step up the height that the kettlebell consumes.

Kettlebell Pushup
The Kettlebell Pushup! It's dark because it's 1am.

It definitely works. I could only squeeze out about 15 reps before my arms gave out and I choked it all up. Immediately then discovered this configuration has a built in drop-set mechanism so without missing a beat battered my pecs & tris for another few of reps without the KB weight.

It's not all that hard keeping a grip. The gag reflex really is the biggest hassle, and it's not that much of a hassle. Crucial part of weight training is mind-over-matter so maybe not such a bad thing to throw into the challenge. My pecs have much more of a post-bench feel than post-pushup. And a pumped neck is odd ;-)

Ah, the things to do on a Saturday night...

Posted by Paul Makepeace at January 30, 2005 01:50 | TrackBack

nuts. you should meet the russian next time you are in SF. you'll be in great shape but might need new teeth soon enough

Posted by: k0re at January 30, 2005 06:21

Gosh! Why not just put your kettlebells in a backpack and do your push-ups?

I am not sure if this is the safest thing for your cervical spine as it stretched way past its neutral position. It is certainly not designed to take on massive forward weights, cerainly not a whole 16 Kgs in the first workout.

For that post-bench feel, how about one-arm push-ups? ...or a bench maybe?

Posted by: Emir Attig at January 30, 2005 11:17

Emir - Hey dude! I thought about a backpack or something like that and figured on a couple of things happening. First, the thing would manage to slop around and hang off the side and annoy me. KBs have this habit of being awkward - I think that's why they're such a good workout.

Second, supporting on the back reduces the distance the KB moves so the effective work done is maybe a half or so. I wanted the max leverage from the available weight.

You could well be right about the safety and stuff. Having said that there are things called neck harnesses guys hang a load of weight off. Check out the "Headstrap for Hercules" from Ironmind.

And then there's Matt Furey's feet flat bridge. Crazy!

A human head is about 5kg and dynamic loads in a mosh pit would put that way above 160N I'm sure ;-)

Posted by: Paul Makepeace at January 30, 2005 11:40

Even if one arm pushups are to easy, then do a one arm one leg pushup, by putting up the oppossite leg. You could also get a power pushup from But I do admire the creativity in this, and think it is awesome. It can also be a good jaw developer.

Posted by: Jake at February 16, 2005 00:08

You are brilaint. I can't wait to try this out. Thank you soo much!

Posted by: James Whelan at January 20, 2006 02:37

i love triceps and biceps but im jsut gunna say girl htat this website is just plain boring to look at!peace out a town

Posted by: shaniqiaea at February 26, 2006 20:25

mate, this is sweet. but surely by rasing the platform for your hands this makes the exercise easier. to obtain the max. impact of the additional weight, it might be an idea to raise your feet to the same level... (?)
full marks for effort and initiative tho!!!!

Posted by: barney at May 20, 2006 15:55

Nice one , I like it.
I got a good one for you, WHy don't you Make a strap
to go around you balls and the other end to the kettlebell. Then do squats. This will streghten the internal organs. But be care. lol

Posted by: Steve at June 22, 2006 22:15

who the hell would hold that in their mouth

Posted by: your a idiot at August 26, 2006 02:16

Surely a weighted vest would be alot safer and do the job

Posted by: susan at October 27, 2006 11:25

Susan: yeah, probably - I got a weighted vest a few months later!

A month after that fell off the side of the house and spent the next year recovering so safety isn't (or at least wasn't) my strong point. That said, this particular exercise didn't seem to really stress anything too much. Neck's are quite strong, head's ain't light!

Posted by: Paul Makepeace at October 27, 2006 12:02
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