If you’re looking to get strong, toned arms and you’re struggling to see any progress, look no further. Kettlebells are not just another piece of workout equipment. They pack a punch when it comes to their unique benefits and when you add them to your training regime, they provide you with a dynamic tool designed to boost your functional strength, enhance stability, and rev up your metabolic engine.
Incorporating kettlebells into your fitness regimen can offer diverse movements that target a wide array of muscles at one time, particularly the arms. In this guide we’re going to share with you some of the best kept secrets when it comes to kettlebell exercises for arms alongside providing you with a structured kettlebell arm workout put together by some of the leading coaches in the world.
#1 – Kettlebell Clean & Press
This popular kettlebell exercise not only targets the arm muscles but is classed as a full body exercise which utilises multiple muscle groups. Due to the muscular co-contractions utilised in this movement it increases overall caloric burn which is why it’s a great tool for metabolic conditioning sessions alongside challenging strength and stability within the body.
Muscle groups targeted:
- Shoulders, Upper Chest, and Triceps
- Hamstrings and Glutes
- Upper Back, Traps, and Lats
- Anterior Chain
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart and have a kettlebell on the floor in front of you.
- Bend at the knees and push your hips slightly back and reach down to grab your kettlebell with one hand (either hand to start with)
- To perform the movement, swing the kettlebell back between your legs and create a swinging motion forward up. Drive your hips forward while keeping your back straight.
- As soon as the kettlebell is swung just above your belly button, pull it back and move your hand underneath the kettlebell so it’s resting against the back of your wrist.
- Now push the kettlebell straight up and over your head until your arm is straight. Keep your elbows locked.
- Reverse the movement to go back to your starting position.
#2 – Kettlebell Bicep Curl
A classic exercise re-invented with the use of kettlebells isolating the biceps alone. The variable centre of mass changes the loading of the exercise that’s usually performed with a dumbbell or barbell which recruits more muscle fibres due to the offset weight.
- Pick up two kettlebells, being mindful of how you pick them up from the floor.
- Start with both arms fully extended holding the kettlebells in the mid-upper palms gripping the handle tightly to ensure the kettlebells won’t slip.
- By bending at the elbow flex the hand towards the shoulder maintaining alignment of the lower / upper arm.
- By matching the line of pull with the bicep muscle you are ensuring the most muscle contraction.
- Slowly return them down to your sides.
#3 – Kettlebell Overhead Triceps Extension
If you want to sculpt your triceps and build bigger arms, then overhead triceps variations are the play. Not only are you targeting the lengthened triceps position, but also the lats and shoulder stability by adopting an overhead shoulder position.
- Start with your feet shoulder width apart to provide a solid base of support.
- Grip a kettlebell with two hands by the bell rather than the handle to allow for greater stability.
- Raise the kettlebell up with two hands up above your head whilst maintaining a stacked ribcage and pelvis (brace your core).
- I’d recommend starting with a light weight and seeing how comfortable you are in this position before increasing load as overhead positions aren’t easy to master especially if you’re new to the gym.
- With the kettlebell extended overhead, slowly bend at the elbow allowing the kettlebell to lower towards your lower back whilst keeping your upper arms and elbows fixed in place.
- Go as low as feels comfortable initially you can always increase range of motion as you feel more confident and competent in this position.
- Extending the arms, return the kettlebell back to the starting position.
#4 – Overhead Press
The Arnold classic movement to build and sculpt shoulders even the man himself would be proud of the kettlebell overhead press utilises the classic movement but with kettlebells which is like the clean and press (exercise 1) but without the squat part of the movement.
- Start with your feet shoulder width apart, keeping the legs locked and pelvis and ribcage stacked to avoid excess pressure being put on your lower back or other areas.
- Pick up two kettlebells, one in each hand and flex the arms to bring the kettlebells to your shoulders to start, as you curl them up the kettlebells should end up with your palms facing forward and the kettlebells against the back of your wrists pushed into your forearms.
- With the kettlebell at shoulder height, you’re going to press the kettlebells above your head extending the arms up straight whilst maintaining a brace through your core.
- Ensure you fully lock your elbows out at the top of the movement before slowly bending at the elbow and returning the kettlebells back to shoulder height.
#5 – Kettlebell Lateral Raise
If you didn’t think lateral raises were challenging enough, then why not try and perform it with a pair of kettlebells? Challenging the medial head of the delts and your lower / mid trap muscles to stabilise as you perform this movement this is a staple if you’re looking to tone your shoulders and arms.
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart before picking two kettlebells in either hand off the floor.
- Allow the two kettlebells to sit on your upper thighs just in front of your pockets as the starting position.
- Maintaining a stacked torso and rib cage begin to raise the kettlebells out to sides keeping them slightly in front of your body this will mimic the upward rotation of the shoulder girdle to allow freedom of movement known as the scapular plane.
- Keeping the palms facing down aim to raise your arms to roughly 110 degrees ensuring the wrists do not go higher than the elbows to maintain tension through the shoulders.
- Slowly lower the kettlebells back to the starting position, controlling the downward phase as much as you can to keep mechanical tension through the shoulder muscles.
#6 Kettlebell Windmill
A bang for your buck exercise that primarily challenges shoulder stability and mobility, arm, and core muscles as well as thoracic spine rotation and adductors. This is a fantastic exercise to add into your armoury either as a warmup exercise or a movement you can add into a metabolic conditioning routine due to the multiple muscles used.
- Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and turn one foot out by 45 degrees.
- Pick up a kettlebell with the same hand as the leg that remained straight and hold the kettlebell overhead with a straight arm.
- Slowly hinge at the hips, reaching your free hand towards the opposite foot while keeping the kettlebell arm straight. Top tip as you reach your arm to the foot turn your head slightly to look at the direction of the kettlebell to help maintain stability.
- Drive your hips back through returning to the starting position before repeating desired reps or switching sides.
#7 – Kettlebell Bent Over Row
Want to build bigger arms, a stronger bulletproof back then bent over rows are a must and with the addition of kettlebells this allows for a greater range of motion and upper back muscle engagement.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart holding two kettlebells’ in either hand.
- Hinge forward from your hips, maintaining a brace and keeping a neutral spine to adopt your starting position.
- Pull the kettlebell towards your hips, flexing at the elbow as you pull, think about pulling your shoulders back and squeezing your shoulder blades together until the kettlebells are in line with your pockets.
- Return to the starting position by extending the arms back and allowing the shoulders to protract forward to feel the stretch through your lats (back muscles).
#8 – Kettlebell Renegade Row
Combining a challenging core exercise whilst performing a row movement is a true test of anti-rotational strength, this will set any athlete up for success when it comes to functional strength and spinal stability whilst building your upper body and arms.
- Start with two kettlebells placed shoulder width apart on the floor.
- Move into a plank position gripping the kettlebells, keeping your arms straight, your ribcage and pelvis should be stacked, glutes engaged and spine neutral to start.
- Pull one kettlebell into your hip, retracting your shoulder blade as you push hard into the other kettlebell to create counterforce to aid in stabilising your trunk to resist rotation.
- Slowly lower the kettlebell back down to the starting position by extending the arm maintaining balance before repeating on the other side.
#9 – Kettlebell Bottoms Up Press
You’re only as strong as you are stable. Challenging the more intricate upper body and arm muscles will do more for your total body strength than you may think at the time. It’s not always about how much load you can lift, and the kettlebell bottoms up press is a prime example of this. Challenging your internal / external stabilising muscles known as your rotator cuff group and grip strength this exercise is one to get good at if you want to bulletproof your shoulders.
- Adopt a half kneeling lunge position with one knee on the floor to create a stable base of support.
- Pick up a kettlebell with the adjacent arm to the leg that’s leading.
- Grip the kettlebell by the handle with the bottom facing up and bring it to shoulder height to start.
- Press and extend the arm overhead, ensuring the kettlebell remains balanced.
- Top tip push hard into the front foot and rear foot in your half kneeling position and maintain a brace throughout to avoid any trunk movement when performing the exercise.
- Lower the kettlebell back down to shoulder height and repeat for desired rep range.
#10 – Kettlebell Hammer Curl
If you want arms like Popeye, then developing your forearms alongside your biceps is essential. The kettlebell hammer curl does just that and is one of the best kettlebell exercises for arms that you’ll want to incorporate into your kettlebell arm workout to develop your upper body strength, muscle, and tone.
- Hold two kettlebells by your side with feet shoulder width apart keeping the kettlebells neutral (palms facing in towards the body).
- Keeping your shoulders and upper arms fixed, curl the kettlebell up towards your shoulder by flexing the elbow.
- Slowly lower back down to the starting position.
#11 – Kettlebell Halo
Not your usual gym movement the kettlebell halo is a less commonly known exercise which enhances shoulder mobility and arm strength, targeting the shoulders and triceps. The rotational movement will keep your shoulders healthy and strong!
- Grip a kettlebell with two hands, holding it upside down with the two handles.
- Lift it up, holding it around head height.
- Move it around your head in a circular motion, first clockwise then counterclockwise keeping it equal distance from the bell to your head as you move through the motion.
#12 – Kettlebell Snatch
A full-body exercise that’s dynamic, explosive, and highly metabolic, the kettlebell snatch challenges your core, shoulder strength and stability and triceps. If you want to develop athletic power and prowess, then you should be incorporating this into your kettlebell arm workout.
- Start with your feet shoulder width apart with a kettlebell between your feet.
- Squat down to grasp the kettlebell with one arm to start the snatch.
- In a swift movement, pull the kettlebell upwards, fully extending your hips and knees to drive you through the movement.
- Punch your hand overhead, ending with the kettlebell above your head with your palm facing forward and the kettlebell resting on the back of your wrist.
- Bend at the elbow and bring the kettlebell back down towards your chest and rotate it back round to the starting position.
#13 – Kettlebell Alternating Bridge Press
Strengthening your core, glute’s, chest and triceps in one go whilst working on your anti-rotational strength to improve your trunk stability sounds too good to be true for one exercise, right? I wish I was lying, this exercise is packed full of benefits and for good reason.
- Start lying on the ground with two kettlebells in each arm with your knees bent and feet on the floor.
- Push through your feet and raise your hips into your bridge position engaging your glutes and core keeping your pubic bone tucked towards your ribcage.
- Press and extend your arms so the kettlebells are straight up to start the exercise.
- Maintaining the bridge position, slowly lower one arm back towards the floor bending at the elbow and inhaling as you descend.
- Exhale and press your shoulder blades into the floor as you extend the arm and kettlebell back to the starting position.
- Repeat the movement on the other arm.
#14 – Kettlebell Triceps Kickback.
Triceps make up two thirds of your arm so if you want t-shirt filling arms you can’t ignore building your triceps.
- Start with feet shoulder width apart, holding two kettlebells at your side.
- Hinge at your hips maintaining a neutral spine and keeping elbows tucked to your body still holding the two kettlebells to adopt the start position.
- Keeping your upper arm stable, extend your forearm backward until your arm is fully extended.
- Ensure you maintain a brace through your trunk and keep your ribcage and pelvis stacked.
- Slowly flex and bend at the elbow to return to the start position without dropping the upper arm.
#15 – Kettlebell High Pull
The kettlebell high pull is a favourite in metabolic workouts utilising the upper back muscles, shoulders, biceps.
- Start with your feet shoulder width apart with a kettlebell between your feet.
- Squat down to grip the kettlebell with two hands on the handle.
- Pull the kettlebell up in-front of your shoulder keeping elbows flared at 45 degrees until the kettlebell reaches shoulder height.
- Your torso should remain upright, and trunk stacked when performing this movement, so the main muscles involved are your back, shoulders, and arms.
- Slowly lower the kettlebell down towards the floor to the start position by extending your arms keeping control throughout
Kettlebell Arm Workout
Perform the A series in concession before moving onto the B series and finally the C series. The A series use a low to moderate weight to mobilise and challenge the stability of the shoulders preparing you for the main workout.
|A1) Kettlebell Windmill
|6 each side
|A2) Kettlebell Halo
|6 each way
|A3) Kettlebell Bottoms Up Press
|6 each side
|B1) Kettlebell Clean & Press
|8 each side
|B2) Kettlebell Bent Over Row
|B3) Kettlebell Bicep Curl
|C1) Kettlebell Renegade Row
|10 each side
|C2) Kettlebell Overhead Tricep Extension
|C3) Kettlebell Hammer Curl
- Can you build arms with kettlebells?
Like any muscle group you if you are putting tension across muscle fibres, focusing on frequency, adequate volume (sets & reps) across the week and applying the principles of progressive overload and stimulus you can develop your arms. Kettlebells have unique characteristics of providing an offset centre of mass which can be beneficial to activating more motor neurons in the muscles. Aim to train your arms with kettlebells twice per week starting with 10-15 sets of exercises per week with a load that challenges you to 1-2 reps in reserve of failure and increase as necessary to ensure you are providing enough stimulus to give yourself the best chance to grow!
- Do Kettlebells tone arms?
Muscle tone comes from lean body mass (muscle) and lower body fat percentages so you can see all your hard-earned muscle. Kettlebells can be an effective tool to help you build strength and build muscle through kettlebell arm workout but it’s important to remember no specific workout or modality is going to tone you, everything is a tool in your toolbox which you can utilise to continue to keep things interesting and help you continue to make progress.
How do I tone arms fast with kettlebells?
Consistency is key. Incorporating a variety of the exercises mentioned above, with proper form and sufficient resistance, can lead to quicker toning results combined with a calorie restricted diet to help you lose body fat will give you the best possible chance to tone your arms fast.
- Do kettlebell swings strengthen arms?
Kettlebell swings are primarily a posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes & back) and core exercise, kettlebell swings also engage the shoulders and forearms, offering some strengthening benefits for the arms but don’t isolate your bicep and triceps muscles like other specific exercise mentioned in this article.
- How can I avoid getting hurt using kettlebells?
Exercise execution is a must, always maintain proper form, start with a weight that’s manageable, and start with the less dynamic and challenging exercises until you’ve built up a base level of strength of fitness. Consult with one of our amazing coaches for free or check in with them next time you’re in to ensure you’re performing the exercises correctly.
6.Is there a correct technique for holding kettlebells?
The grip varies depending on the exercise. For many exercises, a firm grip around the handle is needed. In others, the kettlebell may rest on the back of the wrist. It’s crucial to ensure the grip is secure to prevent injury.
Kettlebells are a versatile and effective tool for strengthening, stabilising, and developing athletic power and resilience. Not only do they offer a diverse range of exercises to target various muscles in the arms, but their unique design also brings additional benefits in terms of balance, coordination, and overall strength. If you’re looking for a dynamic way to tone and strengthen your arms, kettlebells might just be the equipment you’re searching for. Always remember to prioritise form overweight to maximise benefits and minimise injury risks and if you want to learn more about how to effectively incorporate kettlebells into your workouts then speak to one of our team here at Crunch fitness.
Crunch Fitness Virtual Assistant