It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how most exercises got their names. Not so for the gladiator press. One attempt and you’ll immediately be summoning your inner gladiator as you struggle to complete your first rep. To do this press, set up in a side-plank position with a kettlebell (or dumbbell) in your free hand. “Rack” the kettlebell at your shoulder, then press it up to form a straight line with your supporting arm.

If you can, raise your free leg and keep it there for the duration of the set. If you find it very difficult to keep this position, it’s a sign of muscle weakness and/or muscle imbalances that need to be addressed. For example, if your shoulders lack the stability to hold you in place during the press, you probably need more exercises like face pulls, inverted rows, and seated rows.

Quick Tips: Before you begin the press, pull both shoulders back and down—referred to as “packing the shoulders.” this will keep the shoulders safe and create more tension, which will provide a more stable base and more strength for the press.

The Workout

Try this workout to correct imbalance and weakness in your upper body and core. 

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Barbell Clean 4 6 90 secs
Military Preas 3 8 60 secs
– superset with –      
Chin Up 3 8 60 secs
Gladiator Press 3 (each side) 8 (each side) 30 secs
– superset with –      
Face Pull 3 20 60 secs


Jim Smith is a highly respected, world-renowned strength and conditioning coach. A member of the Fitness Advisory Board, Jim has been called one of the most “innovative strength coaches” in the fitness industry. Training athletes, fitness enthusiasts and weekend warriors, Jim has dedicated himself to helping them reach “beyond their potential.” He is also the owner of Diesel Strength & Conditioning in Elmira, NY.