Learn the Eagle Press to Lose the Spare Tire and Build a Strong Core

Note from John Siff: This is a guest post from CST Coach John Belkewitch, a fitness pro from New Jersey (pronounced “Joisey”). I met John last year and can speak for his diligence in his CST practice and knowledge of fitness. He’s a talented and dedicated athlete, and from what I hear, he’s also an excellent coach. I saw a video of John performing some pretty innovative exercises, and I asked him to whip up a tutorial for the Eagle Press, which is a fantastic exercise that is also a lot of fun to perform. You’ll immediately see its roots in various martial art disciplines, and John has broken it down so that anyone can learn this cool exercise. I know you guys are gonna dig it! I’ll now hand the mic over to John B…

The Eagle Press – complex, not complicated

When meeting with a prospective client one of the big things we discuss is obstacles to training.  And sure enough one element that pops up over and over again is that there’s ‘no time’ to train.

We can address this issue from a number of angles such as journaling and analyzing our daily routine, assessing and reconsidering priorities, and progressively building new rituals.  Most often this results in the discovery that the time is indeed there to train if we want it bad enough and are willing to put forth the effort.

However, some people aren’t willing to go through a lifestyle reassessment for a number of reasons – fear being a major factor.  Thus, I’m dealt the hand of putting together a routine that’s not only effective but takes ‘no time’ to perform.

But let’s be real:  if you want to make a change, you have to do the work.  And doing the work takes time.

It just doesn’t have to take a lot of time.

In fact, if it takes too much time, it could work against your goals.

So, in the spirit of getting the most bang-for-your-buck, where time is of the essence, I like to employ Complex Movements as much as I can.

Whereas an isolated movement may involve the articulation of 1 joint in its performance, such as a bicep curl, and a compound movement may involve the articulation of multiple joints in its performance, such as a squat, a complex movement is a marriage of two distinct movements in their own right.

I look for a few key things when putting together a complex movement.

First, it must be effective.  It absolutely must address our needs.  The build of the movement must get us to where we want to go.  It might look cool in its performance, but if it doesn’t get you closer to your destination it’s a waste of time… and remember, we’re starting with ‘no time’ to begin with.

Second, it must be efficient.  It has to hit as many degrees of freedom as possible.  If the complex movement is intended to save us time it must pay mind to the elements of tri-planar movement.  The 3 elements of translation:  heaving (moving up and down), swaying (moving left and right), and surging (moving forward and back).  The 3 elements of rotation:  pitching (bending forward and back), yawing (twisting left and right), and rolling (bending side to side).

Third, it must flow.  Complex doesn’t mean complicated.  We can certainly Frankenstein a bunch of single movements into some kind of monster movement that’s jagged and disconnected.  But we’re looking for grace and ease in movement.  Therefore, it must be smooth and fluid, working towards flow.

The complex movement thus saves us time by addressing our needs in such a way that performing it results in a greater training effect than if we were to train the movements that comprise it all by themselves.

Enter the Eagle Press.

The Eagle Press is the union of the Eagle Leg Swoop with the Get-Up Press.  The linchpin in our relationship here is the core, as anyone who’s done the movement will be quick to tell you the next day upon rolling out of bed.

The Eagle Press is deployed into a program with 5 mission objectives:

1.  Take out the spare tire. Many people carry around an unnecessary donut all day long.  Unfortunately, unlike the one in your vehicle, it’s not going to replace anything that goes flat on your body.  And even if by some modern miracle it does, we all know that riding around on a donut is in no way efficient.  The neuromuscular edge and spike in metabolism you get from training complex movements has great fat-burning implications.

2.  Build a fully functional core. The Eagle Press combines rotation, trunk flexion and deceleration to work a whole slew of musculature within the core.  While I love stability movements such as plank variations for core strength, the Eagle Press challenges dynamic stability as opposed to static.  And it is this challenge to dynamic stability that seems to transfer more optimally to sport performance.   The eagle press is a complex movement that uses a larger kinetic chain. Sports performance studies have shown that optimal adaptations will occur with replication of synchronized and dynamic integrated movement.

3.  Increase striking power. Our core is a transfer station for power.  A finely tuned core takes the energy we generate from the ground and funnels it up through our trunk to the upper extremities and out to whichever external object we see fit.  In the Eagle Press that object is your tool of choice:  dumbbell, kettlebell, or clubbell, and we’ll be utilizing rotational power to spiral energy upward and outward.  This has carry-over implications to empty hand striking, where the external object is our intended target.

4.  Learn to maneuver from your back. Elements of the Eagle Press can be seen in many styles of dance and martial art, with implications for safely getting to and up from the ground.  The swooping movements in the Eagle Press also help to prepare you for later sophistications when threading is added.

5.  Have fun. It has to suck, but in a good way.  A quick search on Google for core, abdominal or oblique training will yield a ton of isolated, boring movements as top hits.  Rote repetition after rote repetition, with little to no stimulation through sophistication, and little to no carry over into actual performance.  While some of the movements are funny to look at, we need them to have some semblance of fun in performance.  If we don’t enjoy it, we’re less likely to stick with it.

Now, not everyone can jump right into a complex movement without first training the movements that comprise it by themselves.  If you don’t recognize the partners in matrimony first as independents, the marriage will never work.  Undesirable and unpredictable side effects are sure to ensue.

In the following videos you’ll find variations for working up to the Eagle Leg Swoop and Get-Up Press respectively.   When trying to groove in a new movement I like to hit a few repetitions while fresh, several times throughout the day.  Think of it more as practice than as training.

As you get comfortable with a particular movement, feel free to add it to your current training program in place of either a core or pressing movement.  Once you’ve hit the top end of the progressions marry the Eagle Leg Swoop and Get-Up Press into the Eagle Press for a powerful, safe and effective training session.

Looking forward to your progress…


John Belkewitch is a Circular Strength Training® Coach and Fitness Professional from New Jersey. He owns and operates Day 1 Personal Training, offering In-Home and On-Line training, as well as CST® fitness classes and boot camps. He also blogs about health and fitness related topics at www.day1personaltraining.com


Learn the Eagle Press in 3 Steps (for all fitness levels)

Step 1 – Eagle Leg Swoop Tutorial: Four progressions for working up to the Eagle Leg Swoop body weight movement.

Step 2 – Dumbbell Get-Up Press Tutorial: One half of the Eagle Press compound movement.

Step 3 – The Eagle Press. A great compound movement that hits multiple degrees of freedom.

If you have any questions for John or I about the Eagle press or any of the tutorial steps, please let us know in the comments. And heck, you could even thank John for putting together this excellent series for you. Much appreciated JB!

4 Responses

  1. Awesome tutorial John, way to go!

  2. Great stuff! Easy to follow & a hell of a workout! Thank you for the hard work and for sharing.


  3. Excellent work John – welldone :)

  4. Thanks for taking a look guys. Had a lot of fun with it.

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