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If you don’t participate in CrossFit, then there’s a chance you’ve never heard of the Devil Press. This full-body exercise demands your undivided attention and effort to pull off. We’re not sure who came up with the Devil Press, but it might be the Devil himself as the movement combines some of the most hated exercises (burpees, deadlift, presses) into one fluid motion. In this post, we cover; what is a Devil Press, how to do it, muscles worked, and variations.
Welcome to hell…
The Devil Press is a compound exercise that resembles a burpee without the jump but with dumbbells. This is a CrossFit-styled movement that is included in several workouts and competitions. You will use two dumbbells of equal weight while performing the Devil Press. If you’ve ever done a burpee, then you can imagine the effort it takes to complete a Devil Press. Think of a burpee, deadlift, snatch love-child, and you’ll come up with the Devil Press. This movement broke onto the fitness scene in CrossFit WODs a few years ago and doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.
A lot is going on with the Devil Press, so we wanted to break it down into phases. This way, you can work on various movements within the exercise before putting them all together to get the final exercise.
1. Up Downs
An up-down is a modified burpee. It simply removes the push up and jump from the burpee. It's a good way to practice dropping down to the ground then kicking the legs back before driving the hips forward using the hip flexors to bring your feet back towards your hands. And while easier than the full burpee, it is still an effective and tiring full body exercise.
2. Burpee Without Jump
Once you feel comfortable executing the up-down, the next step is to add the lowering of your chest, thighs, and hips to the floor just after kicking your legs back.
3. Dumbbell Sumo Deadlift
After mastering the burpee-like movement, you’ll want to work on sumo deadlift movement. First, get into a wide stance over the dumbbells, then reach down to grab the dumbbells with a neutral grip while you drop your hips back. Starting in this sumo deadlift position, practice a few reps where you lift the dumbbells off the ground by extending the knees and hips until you’re standing upright.
4. Burpee With Sumo Deadlift
You’re now at the point where you’ll add two movements together to form one fluid motion. First, drop down to do a burpee, then finish with a sumo deadlift. Focus on keeping your chest up and shoulders back as you drive your hips forward during the sumo deadlift; this will come in handy when it’s time to put all the parts together to perform the Devil Press.
5. Single Dumbbell Snatch
The following motion you need to practice is the dumbbell snatch. Start with using one dumbbell at a time to hone in on the movement cues. Next, get into your sumo stance with a dumbbell inside your right foot. Then, bend at the knees and hips to reach down to grab the dumbbell. From there, quickly extend at the knees, then hips as you lift the weight up, shrug your shoulder to lift the weight up over your head.
6. Double Dumbbell Snatch
Once you’ve got the single dumbbell snatch down pat, then it’s time to practice with two dumbbells simultaneously. The critical point to remember is to use the momentum from the knee and hip extension to help lift the weight up. Also, keep the dumbbells close to your body as they travel up your body; this isn’t a kettlebell swing.
Put It All Together:
Follow these tips and cues so that you can perform a Devil Press flawlessly to avoid incorrect movement and potential injury.
The Devil Press is an excellent compound exercise that works muscles from head to toe.
Let’s have a look at some of the benefits that this challenging exercise has to offer:
The Devil Press works muscles in both the upper and lower body. This would be a lengthy post to cover all the muscles individually, so we grouped them below.
The lower body muscles are primary movers that make the Devil Press possible.
These variations of the Devil Press can make the exercise a bit easier or harder.
1. Single Dumbbell Devil Press
This is an easier variation of the Devil Press as you can focus on lifting one dumbbell at a time. By doing this unilateral exercise, you’ll be able to tell if one side of your body is stronger or weaker than the other then make the necessary improvements. Your stabilizing muscles will also be a little more active in this variation to keep your body balanced and aligned, as one side of the body holds a heavier weight than the other.
The differences in this variation are:
2. Kettlebell Devil Press
This is a more challenging variation of the Devil Press. We only recommend moving on to this version if you’re comfortable using kettlebells and have experience doing cleans with them as your wrists will rotate, and the bell will flip over to one side of your hand as you move into the top half of the movement. Besides that, this variation requires more wrist and grip strength plus a greater ROM as you lower your body to the floor then press up, which will stretch your pecs out more.
The main difference between the Kettlebell Devil Press is:
The Devil Press is best served as a component in a short full-body HIIT workout or circuit. We added this exercise in the below HIIT AMRAP workout that’s guaranteed to get the heart pumping and sweat dripping. Or you can search online for a WOD that includes the Devil Press; there are plenty.
You will do as many reps as possible in the time frame given for each exercise. Rest 2 minutes between each round. Complete 3 rounds:
The Devil Press is an effective full-body exercise that can help you burn tons of calories in a short amount of time, plus you can add lean muscle to your frame. Not only that, they can improve aspects of other big compound lifts, including deadlifts or even Olympic lifts such as snatches. So, give this exercise a shot to step up your game.
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