15 Upper Body Kettlebell Exercises and Workouts to Build Muscle

 
 
 
If you want to skip to the exercises or workouts then scroll down a bit, but if you want to hear what I have to say about kettlebell exercises and workouts then sit back grab a drink…I mean water…and some popcorn…or a salad!
 
Kettlebells have seemed to have popped out of nowhere and taken the fitness industry and gyms by storm.
 
The people that were the pioneers of the kettlebell were probably laughed at and scrutinized in the early days when kettlebells were just starting to hit the scene, but now it seems like everyone is doing kettlebell workouts and movements!
 
I’m no historian, but other sources have told me that kettlebells have been around for hundreds and thousands of years!
 
In ancient Greece, olympians would use kettlebells to show their mightiness in feats of strength and performance, and a couple hundred years ago farmers in russia would use them as a means of weighing crops.
 
Nowadays people use them in the gym to burn calories, break a sweat, build muscle, and get fit.
 
Feel free to get a refill on that water and make another salad right now.
I’ll wait.
 
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Pro’s and Con’s of Using KettleBells

 
There are many benefits to using kettlebells as well as a couple downsides.
 

Benefits of using Kettlebells

 

More “functional”

 

Kettlebell exercises and workouts are considered as more functional than traditional barbell and dumbbell lifts. 

They’re considered more functional because they use a lot more muscles than other gym movements with the barbell or dumbbells. Sometimes more than 600 muscles are engaged in kettlebell lifts!!

 
Kettlebell exercises are also considered more functional because they are more similar to everyday movements you would do in a day.
 
In a regular day you are rarely using one muscle group or section of your body at a given time.
 
Your body naturally works together by linking all the muscle groups and using them in unison. Kettlebell workouts try to mimic that idea and use multiple muscle groups instead of one or two.
 

Increased explosiveness

 
Many kettlebell movements are explosive by nature. Kettlebell exercises start by having the the person doing the exercise tighten the core, loading up, and pushing, swinging, or pulling with all their might in one swift motion.
 
Doing these kind of movements will benefit everyday people young and old, and especially athletes.
 
There are two types of muscle fibers, fast and slow twitch. In a nutshell fast twitch muscle fibers are used in powerful burst of movements like sprinting and slow twitch are used in more long endurance feats like a marathon or something.
 
By doing explosive movements, you use and will build more fast twitch muscle fibers which are the ones used when you need to turn it on and go!
 
Many Kettlebell exercises and workouts involve using both muscle fibers.
 
But in a lot of exercises the fast twitch muscle fibers will be put to use more than the slow twitch! This will lead to more explosiveness in your everyday life!
 
 

Develop a vice grip

 
Holding 10lbs-50lbs for an extended amount of time takes a lot of hard work and a strong grip!!
 
On top of that, kettlebell handles are thicker which makes it harder to hold onto!!
 
And on top of that, you’re swinging the weight all over the place and in order to not have the weight fly out of your hands and kill someone you’ve got to hold on even tighter!!
 
In other gym exercises like the deadlift and shrugs someone’s grip can be the limiting factor of how much they can lift!
 
By doing kettlebell exercises frequently you’ll develop stronger and larger forearms that will give you a grip that will never let you down.
 
 

Cardio Without Cardio

 
Some people love cardio. I’m not one of those people, and I have no idea how someone could love running their guts out. For me it’s also boring. Running yet going nowhere??
 
Nope, not for me!
 
But kettlebell workouts offer a solution that is cardio while at the same time it doesn’t feel like cardio.
 
Many kettlebell workouts involve short breaks and continuous movement. This leads to burning more calories and blasting fat away like you would with steady running or biking!
 
A bonus on top of that is that while you’re burning calories by moving and huffing and puffing you’re getting stronger and building muscle at the same time!!
 
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Spice Up regular routine

 
Sometimes doing the same routine you always do at the gym can get a little boring.
 
If you have never done kettlebell exercises or done a kettlebell workout, then adding them in is a great way to spice up your regular routine!
 
By using kettlebells you’ll also be using different muscles then you usually use while using a barbell or dumbbells!
 
You don’t have to have any experience to use a kettlebell.
 
There are a couple techniques and movements that are a little more technical and take a little bit of practice to get used to, but otherwise for most movements just switch in a kettlebell instead of a dumbbells or a barbell!
 
 
 
 

Cons

1.
2.
3.
 
Surprise! There are not really any cons to doing kettlebell exercises or kettlebell workouts!
 
By using kettlebells you’re choosing to do a healthy lifestyle activity that will help get you stronger and more fit!!
 
But one “con” to doing kettlebell workouts is that they aren’t the most effective way of building muscle and strength.
 
You will build rock solid muscle using kettlebells and doing kettlebell movements, but if your main goal is to build muscle, then heavy compound lifts are the way to go.
 
Some may consider that a con and some won’t.
 
It depends on you and your goals.
 
Some people don’t want to be bigger or have more muscle and that is perfectly fine.
 
Others only goal is to get big and only have muscle which is also perfectly fine.
 
What some might consider a “con” others consider a “pro”. It really comes down to you, what goals you have, and your lifting preferences.
 
Now it’s time for the good stuff.
 
The lifting and working out part.
 

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Kettlebell Lifts/Movements for the Upper Body

 
If you’re only looking for the 15 workouts keep scrolling!
 
The lifts that are listed down below put emphasis on the upper body. But many of the movements down below will use the legs, abs, and core.
 
Look at this as a bonus not a downside, you’re getting more bang for your buck and hitting more muscle groups in one movement!
 
Booya!
 
A lot of these kettlebell movements and exercises are the exact same as regular lifts you’d do with a dumbbell or barbell.
 
I’ll let you guess what the difference is.
 
Got your guess locked in?
 
If you guessed using a kettlebell, pat yourself on the back.
 
Many of these movements are usually done with a dumbbell or other weight. By using a kettlebell instead of a dumbbell or barbell you will be using different muscles and in a different way by using a kettle bell.
 
Sometimes you’ll actually get a better “pump” by using a kettlebell rather than the old dumbbell or barbell.
 
On the other side of the coin, a couple of these exercise can only be done with a kettlebell. I guess “only be done with a kettlebell is a relative term”….you could technically use a dumbbell or any other weight, but it would be awkward and put extra strain on your wrist.
 
 

15 Kettlebell Exercises

 
 
If you are looking for the 15 workouts scroll past the exercises :).
 

1. Kettlebell Single Arm Overhead Press/ Jerk Press

 

 
The Single Arm overhead press is a great kettlebell exercise to hit the shoulders and core!
 
This lift emphasizes the anterior or front part of the shoulder.
 
To do this lift, start by curling the kettlebell up, and holding it so the “bell” part is on the backside of your hand and your palm is facing your body.
 
Then press the weight up like you would with a dumbbell. While pressing the weight up add a twist like you would with an arnold press.
 
Twist and press until your arm is fully extended and your palm is facing away from you.
 
Twist again as you bring the weight back down in a slow and controlled manner until you’re back where you began.
 
Rinse and repeat, and then do it on the other arm.
 
If this is confusing just watch how the gentleman in the video does it!
 

The Single Arm Kettlebell Jerk

 
For the “Jerk” variation of this lift use your legs a little to help explode the weight up.
 
Do this by bending your knees and tightening up your lower body when the weight is at your chest.
 
Push and twist your arm and shoulder while at the same time pushing up with your legs.
 
 

2. Kettlebell Upright Row

 
 

 
The Kettlebell upright row is another great lift for your shoulders. This lift emphasizes the lateral or side part of the shoulder, and the traps.
 
To do this lift grab the kettlebell with both hands.
 
Stand in an athletic stance and pull the kettlebell up while flaring your elbows out to the side.
 
Bring the “handle part” up to your chin.
 
Slowly lower the weight back down in a controlled manner.
 
Make sure to keep your hands facing down. (Or as close as you can, it’s hard to describe)
 
Also try not to let the weight touch any part of your body as you bring the weight up and back down.
 

Single Arm Variation

 

The single arm variation uses the exact same technique as using both hands.
 
Only use one arm.
 

3. Kettlebell Triceps Dip

 

 
The Kettlebell triceps dip is similar to doing bench dips. The only difference is that you’ll be balancing on two kettlebells with your hands.
 
This exercise makes it so you have to use your shoulders and core as stabalizers as you lower and raise yourself with your triceps.
 
If you need more of a challenge add a weight in your lap.
 
If you want it even more challenging, put your feet on top of a bosu ball like the woman in the video!
 

4. Kettlebell Swings

 

 
Kettlebell swings are a staple and classic movement for kettlebell exercises.
 
They are a low impact calorie blasting monster!
 
The form is a little difficult to get, so start with light weight and only focus on form if you’ve never done them!
 
Watch the video if you’ve never done them.
 
If you have done them before, give yourself a pat on the back.
 

5. Kettlebell chest press (Single or both arms)

 

 
The kettlebell chest press is similar to the dumbbell chest press. This exercise works your core, shoulders, arms, and of course the chest.
 
To do this exercise you’ll need two kettlebells that are the same weight and a bench if you prefer doing them on a bench instead of the floor.
 
You don’t have to raise yourself off the floor like the gentleman in the video, but that is one variation you can do to target the lower chest.
 
You can also do a single arm variation where you are only pressing one kettlebell at a time.
 
Use the same form, but only use one arm.
 

6. Kettlebell Row

 

 
The kettlebell row is a great exercise to work the back. This exercise will also test your balance, as well as work your core and legs a little bit.
 
To do this exercise get in a lunge position.
 
Use the arm that is on the same side as the forward-most leg to support yourself.
 
With your other arm grab the kettlebell and pull the weight up using your back.
 
Lower it back down in a controlled manner and repeat until you’ve doen the required amount of reps.
 
Switch sides and do the same thing.
 
 

7. Kettlebell Frontal Raise

 

 
The kettlebell frontal raise is a great exercise to work the front part of your shoulders!
 
You can either do this exercise with one kettlebell that is a little bigger and hold it with two hands, or use two smaller kettlebells.
 
Each variation will work your shoulders a little different so try them both out.
 
Both hands variation:
You can grip the kettlbell from the sides or top, try out both grips and see which one you like best.
 
Don’t lock your elbows, but keep them almost locked out and keep them in that position for the duration of the lift.
 
In a controlled manner raise the kettlebell up to shoulder height. Then slowly lower it back down.
 
Single Arm Variation:
 
Grab a kettlebell in each hand.
 
Keep your arms in the same position, not locked out but firm and solid.
 
Raise one arm from the shoulder and bring the weight up until it is shoulder height.
 
Lower it back down.
 
Now raise your other arm and lower it back down.
 
Keep going until you’ve done however many reps you’re supposed to do.
 

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8. Standing Triceps Extension

 

 
The standing triceps extension is a great kettlebell exercise that will have your triceps burning in no time!
 
You can hold the kettlebell two different ways.
 
You can either have the weight hanging behind your head or have it resting on your forearms. Try out both ways!
 

9. Standing Curl

 

 
This exercise is a great kettlebell exercise to work the biceps. There are a couple variations of how you curl the weight.
 
Curling it different ways will work different parts of your biceps.
 
Watch the video if you are not familiar with the different types of curls you can do.
 

10. Kettlebell Snatch

 

 
The kettlebell snatch builds off of the kettlebell swing. It works your legs, core, arms, and shoulders!
 
This movement is one of the more explosive ones! You’ve got to move the weight from the floor to a spot above your head in one movement!
 
The kettlebell snatch is similar to power cleaning but it is slightly different.
 
This lift can also be a cardio session if you do a lot of these without stopping!
 
Watch the video if you’ve never done them before and start with light weight.
 

11. Bottoms-Up Single arm Press (Clean and press)

 

Bottoms-Up or the clean and press are similar to the kettlebell snatch. The only difference is that you will pause for a small amount of time when you get it up to your shoulder, then follow it with a press.
 
This exercise is another explosive movement that is a great cardio blaster!
 
The kettlebell clean and press works your legs, core, arms, and shoulders!
 
Watch the video above to see how it’s done!
 

12. Renegade Row

 

 
The kettlebell renegade row is a chest, back, shoulder, and core slayer!
 
It pulls all the exercises together and wraps them up all up in a nice burrito.
 
For a regular kettlebell renegade row, you plank and balance on two kettlebells.
 
Then you raise one up in row motion, bring it back down, and do the other side.
 
If you want to work your chest as well then add a push-up after you’ve done a row with each arm!
 
 

13. Kettlebell Shrug

 

 
The kettlebell shrug is a great lift to workout your forearms and traps.
 
Grab a heavy kettlebell or grab two kettlebells.
 
Grip the kettlebell(s) firmly in your palm(s) and not by the fingertips.
 
Shrug.
 
Hold at the top and squeeze it out for 1 count then lower them back down.
 
Keep going until you’ve completed the required amount of reps.
 
 
 

14. Kettlebell Farmers Carry

 

 
The kettlebell farmers carry mainly works your traps, core, abs, and obliques.
 
This one is a killer and will have you wishing you didn’t know about it.
 
To do this exercise grab two kettlebells that are the same weight.
 
Hold each kettlebell firmly in each hand (not by the fingertips, get it up in your palm)
 
Walk a set distance. (Usually about 20-50 steps…or 100 if you’re a monster)
 
While walking keep your core engaged and don’t let the weights touch your body! Keep them out to the sides!
 

15. Figure 8

 
 

Kettlebell figure 8’s workout your shoulders, core, hips, glutes…I should be listing what they don’t work, they pretty much work everything.
 
This exercise is variation of the kettlebell swing but it adds a new element.
 
Before you do this exercise master or be comfortable doing the kettlebell swing.
 
Start by doing a single arm swing. As it comes down let it go through your legs and grab it with your other hand around back.
 
Bring it around to the front in a swift movement and go right into another swing with your other arm. Keep alternating until you’ve got for the required amount of time or number of reps!
 
 
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Kettlebell Workouts

 
As always consult with a doctor or professional before beginning an exercise routine.
*I’m not responsible for any injuries or problems that may occur from using these programs.
But you shouldn’t have to much to worry about as long as you’re healthy, use proper form, warm up, and use a safe amount of weight!
 
 

1. Fitness Blender 30 minute Upper Body Kettlebell Workout

 

 
 
 

2. 10 Minute Hell Upper Body Kettlebell Workout

 
 
 
 

3. Upper Body Kettlebell Quickie Workout

 
 
 
 

4. Upper Body Kettlebell Blast Workout

 
 
 
 

5. Yellow Mellow Upper Body Kettlebell Workout

 
 
 
 

6. Kettlebell Upper Body Crunch

 
 
 
 

7. Upper Body Kettlebell Smash

 
 
 
 

8. 10 12 10 Upper Body Kettlebell Workout

 
 
 
 
 

9. Upper Body Pyramid Kettlebell Workout

 
 
 

10. Upper Body Kettlebell + Core/Abs Workout

 
 
 

11. Upper Body Kettlebell Workout (Arms Emphasis)
 

 
 
 

12. Upper Body Kettlebell Carry Workout

 
 
 
 

13. Upper Body Kettlebell Workout (Shoulder and Back Emphasis)

 
 
 
 

14. Explosive Upper Body Kettlebell Workout

 
 
 

15. 10-1 Upper Body Kettlebell Workout

 
 
 
 
Try out one or all of these workouts and tell me what you think of them!
 
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Mr.Workout

Mr.Workout

Hey I'm Mr.Workout! I have a passion for lifting, working out, the gym, and helping others out! Thanks for stopping by and reading my content! Let me help you on your journey. Join the GAIN TRAIN today and get post updates, free workouts, tips and tricks, and more!

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