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This Devil Press Workout sounds pretty sinister as it should. The move combines two intense full-body exercises usually performed with dumbbells. Those exercises are the burpee and dumbbell snatch. However, by substituting the weights with kettlebells you’ll work more muscles because of the positioning of the kettlebell in the lockout position.

Celebrity trainer Mark Wildman does a great job highlighting the differences between dumbbell and kettlebell snatches in the below video. Although, he refers to the kettlebell dead snatch (misspoken as clean) as not a common exercise for endurance. I have to disagree with that assessment as the dead snatch is exhausting under certain conditions!

For the devil press exercise, the weights are picked up from the floor first. Immediately afterward they are swung back between the legs and then snatched. This is in contrast to a dead snatch where the movement is completely vertical.

Devil Press Exercise Demonstration

Before getting into the devil press workout, it’s important to watch precisely how to perform the exercise. Coach Cambio better known as the_red_gorilla shows how it’s done at a blistering pace. For the average person, it’s probably best to take things a bit more slowly.

If you look closely you’ll notice that the snatch portion of the exercise has the kettlebells drop-down completely after lockout. This is known as a full snatch. It’s a lot more taxing on the body as you don’t benefit from any rest that a half snatch provides. That’s where you drop the kettlebells into rack position before swinging between legs and then placing them on the floor.

Another important detail in this video is how the burpee is substituted for a tricep push-up. The coach remains in a perfect plank position instead of dropping his body and chest to the floor. The reason for this is because of where the height of the handle is on the kettlebell. It would be extremely difficult to lower yourself safely all the way down without compromising stability while maintaining grip.

Still, I believe that the benefits of using kettlebells for a devil press workout surpass those of dumbbells. One can debate the work involved of a push-up vs burpee all they want. The off-center of gravity of the kettlebells requires greater grip strength than traditional free weights. Furthermore, it’s a much more natural movement to drop a kettlebell into a backswing than a dumbbell.

Devil Press Workout Routine

Kettlebell Push Up

This workout is designed for intermediate to advanced kettlebell lifters. You should feel comfortable with the movements involved in the devil press before starting. I suggest using 2 35 lb. kettlebells (or whatever kettlebell weight you use regularly) as anything heavier will quickly lead to fatigue without making modifications.

If you’d like to aim for a quick pace like that of Coach Cambio then use a pair of bells that are 10 lbs. lighter. For myself that would be 2 25 lb. kettlebells. The caveat is that you should absolutely NOT use cast iron at that weight. They’re just too unstable at that small of a base whereas competition kettlebells are a lot sturdier on the floor.

Workout Steps:

  • 4 Devil Presses
  • 4 Clean & Jerks
  • Put Kettlebells Down And Rest 15-30 Seconds
  • Repeat The Above Steps 9 More Times

Adding everything up equates to 10 rounds of 40 devil presses and 40 clean & jerks. Unless you’re a speedster like the coach it should take somewhere around 15 minutes for the devil press workout. I can’t stress enough how important taking breaks is in between rounds. Even though this isn’t a long workout by any means, it’s a grind, and forgoing any recovery time will certainly lead to poor execution.

Thankfully, during the clean and jerk moves, there are also a few rest points. These include the overhead lockout as well as racking for the clean and after the drop. This affords a little wiggle room to hold these positions and catch a brief breath.

Using Heavier Or Lighter Kettlebells

If it’s a more strength-based workout you’re after then a pair of 45 or 53 lb. kettlebells should do the trick. It’s easy enough to adjust accordingly by dropping to 2 devil presses and clean & jerks per round. Similarly, those who are seeking a more cardio-oriented workout with lighter bells may want to increase to 6 moves a piece. Of course, changing the number of rounds is another option as well.

Final Thoughts On The Devil Press Workout

This is just one example where switching from conventional free weights to kettlebells makes more sense. Yes, clean and jerks are also possible with dumbbells. You just won’t get that core stabilization and thus greater cardio and calorie burn as you would with kettlebells. There is a lot of swing action in this workout which is where kettlebells excel for speed and transference.

For an additional challenge perform this workout 3 times a week. Keep track of your total time and then see if you’ve beaten that time after the 3rd attempt. You’ll no doubt notice improvements as your body becomes conditioned and you’re familiarized with the exercises.

Ryan Faucher

I'm a web designer and kettlebell enthusiast on a quest to lose fat, build muscles and live a healthier lifestyle. I truly believe that exercising with kettlebells in conjunction with dieting is the most effective and efficient way to reach this goal. If you have the will and motivation, there is no reason you can't do the same.
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