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Are Kettlebell Curls Good

The design of a kettle bell makes it the best tool for certain exercises: the swing, Turkish getup, and goblet squat, and the single-arm clean, snatches, and overhead press.

author
Brent Mccoy
• Friday, 30 October, 2020
• 14 min read
kettlebell bicep curl workout beginners fitness york
(Source: yorkfitness.com)

The genius of the kettle bell ’s structure—which is essentially a handle attached to small “cannonball”—allows you to do all of those exercises more effectively than you can with a dumbbell. However, the classic arm curl doesn’t generally fall into the category of “more effective with a kettle bell.”

The mindset is that your time would be better spent performing an exercise such as the clean, which involves your biceps, but works a lot of other muscle as well. Kettle bell Goblet Squat Curls This exercise is great for warming up: Use a light load and a slow tempo for two or three sets of 10 to 20 reps.

But use a heavy load and faster speeds for 30 to 60 second work periods, and it can create a massive metabolic disturbance—for sort of holy grail of simultaneous fat loss and arm training. Besides working your biceps, use it to improve your hip and ankle mobility, core stability, and to strengthen your upper back, forearms and shoulders.

In the down position of the squat, it also provides a valuable counter-balance, which allows you to get your trunk more upright and take pressure off your lower back and knees. Cannonball Preacher Curls Credit for this one goes top trainer John Paul Catenary.

The longer you can hold moderate to heavy weights in this position, the greater the load and rep total you’ll get with regular biceps curls. Adding movement with a farmer’s walk makes it more of a whole-body challenge (and also helps the time pass a lot faster!

kettlebell curl exercises workout biceps arm triceps workouts hammer styles tweet fitness blast ultimate muscle
(Source: www.muscleandfitness.com)

Towel-Grip KettlebellCurls Trying to curl a kettle bell while gripping the handles is a hot mess because the weights flap around and can injure your arms and shoulders. Do 3 to 5 sets of 5 to 10 reps. You’ll annihilate your forearms and biceps, and improve your grip strength and endurance for big muscle-builders like the dead lift and pull ups.

This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. Kettle bells provide exclusive benefits and unique kinds of biceps stimulation that are difficult to replicate with dumbbells and barbells.

Due to the design of kettle bells, there's significantly more tension throughout the movement, including the top contracted position. Aside from the kettle bell hanging below the wrists, which creates a constant pulling sensation on the biceps, it's almost impossible to lose tension at the top by cheating and curling the weights too high.

In addition, any swinging or excessive use of momentum will result in the kettle bells banging against the forearms, which is extremely unpleasant. Due to the high levels of continuous tension and biceps innervation, use slightly fewer reps.

The simultaneous stretch and overload they provide has been scientifically shown to maximize micro-trauma and muscle damage, causing significant levels of hypertrophy. In fact, this incline kettle bell curl variation exploits all three major mechanisms of muscle growth:

kettlebell exercises workout biceps triceps curl arm workouts muscle fitness standing styles tweet blast
(Source: www.muscleandfitness.com)

They emphasize the elongated eccentric and stretched position, which produces muscle damage and micro-trauma that's critical for growth. Because of the constant tension throughout the movement with little relaxation of the biceps, this exercise creates an occlusion-effect to the surrounding musculature.

There's an incredible amount of blood flow, muscular pump, intramuscular solmization, cellular swelling, and metabolic stress, all of which are linked to muscle growth. It finishes with the kettle bells in an extended lever-arm position, allowing you to place constant tension on the arms throughout the movement.

But the combination of lighter loads and constant tension will leave your biceps screaming at the end of each set, producing muscular pumps and cellular swelling that's hard to get with other exercises. This is due to the strict form it requires, the reduced momentum you're forced to maintain so you can stay balanced, and the resultant continuous tension on the biceps.

Doing this same exercise with dumbbells isn't nearly as effective because the top of the curl involves little tension — you're getting a semi-rest period during the isometric phase. But because of the unique loading features of the kettle bell, the top position provides constant tension throughout.

Performing kettle bells curls while holding an eccentric isometric squat produces incredible levels of tension in the biceps, particularly in the top position. This slightly angled position, combined with the hanging nature of the kettle bells, provides continuous levels of significant tension, creating occlusion and cellular swelling.

bicep squat bell curls kettle workout beginner
(Source: physicalkitchness.com)

As an added bonus, this exercise improves lower body mobility, hip mechanics, and squatting technique. Two to three sets of 6-10 controlled reps will nail the biceps without unnecessarily fatiguing the lower body.

This creates enormous tension on the biceps because you're locked into the sweet spot of the movement where there's maximal activation and no relaxation. It also promotes optimal shoulder positioning and postural alignment, which is something most lifters struggle with when training biceps.

Many people lack the ability to keep the wrists locked during curls, which can produce strain on the surrounding connective tissue, tendons, and ligaments. This variation requires you to lock the wrists in order to create a solid platform for the weight to rest on.

Kettle bells can be a great tool to use in place of more traditional bicep exercises. You’ve got the handle and the horns of the kettle bell where the grip is held, and the bell (ball) where most of the weight’s sat.

Because of their unique leverage and loading mechanics, kettle bells place a huge amount of tension on the biceps. They also allow tension to remain longer in certain biceps exercises, where dumbbells or barbells would otherwise fall short.

kettlebell curl exercises biceps triceps workout arm exercise muscle workouts arms challenge fitness training gain muscleandfitness
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Dumbbells and barbells do a great job at loading this angle but depending on the exercise and the position of the shoulder and elbows relative to the torso, some tension can be lost. To see what I mean grab a preacher bench and perform a dumbbell bicep curl with full range of motion.

A preacher curl machine also adds tension at the top, versus dumbbells. With a slightly loose grip the kettle bell will rotate in your palm slightly and you’ll finish at the top of the movement with the bell behind your wrist and load further in front. With a dumbbell or barbell, the load would be over the wrist more taking tension away from the bicep.

So, in this instance the kettle bell has allowed you to maintain high muscle tension for a longer time. A kettle bell can also allow you to maintain tension in the stretched position of a curl.

By being able to emphasize this elongated eccentric contraction and stretched position, kettle bells can produce high mechanical tension coupled with micro-trauma and tissue breakdown. The semi-awkward nature of the kettle bell and minor instability also adds to the level of muscle activation achieved by the biceps.

Just another way the unique design of a kettle bell makes them an ideal biceps building tool, and why you should give them a shot. Because of the constant tension throughout the movement with very little relaxation of the biceps, you’ll also get a fair bit of blood occlusion and metabolic stress.

kettlebell curl biceps curls hammer workout exercises exercise muscles kettlebells evolutionfit
(Source: www.pinterest.com)

By triggering a cascade of events and spike in anabolic hormones, these are also helped build muscle. Combine kettle bells with Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) training and you might have a winning combo.

You’ll notice how at the end the elbow comes up a little and my grip rotates in to a little pronation. In all honesty I can’t see any rationale for this tweak at the top, except that when doing it I personally felt a better contraction.

A neutral grip position will shift a little more emphasis on the brachialis muscle. This little sucker shouldn’t be neglected, and if it’s some upper arm thickness you’re after then you need to give it some attention.

The squatting position isn’t some stupid way to try and hit the quads at the same time. Like a preacher bench this helps to isolate the elbow flexors, whilst the angle which is steeper than a preacher bench emphases biceps tension at the top of the curl.

If you struggle to get in position though, and it takes away from the quality of the biceps exercise itself, then try supporting your chest on a bench and executing it similar to a spider curl. You’ll get some crazy amount of tension during this biceps exercise, and another great one to emphasize the brachialis a little more.

kettlebell biceps workout curls hammer exercises exercise muscle curl kettlebells skimble workouts trainer
(Source: www.skimble.com)

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Compound moves such as chin ups and rows do hit your biceps, but to really work your arms, you need isolation exercises. The most common ways of performing curls is with dumbbells or a barbell, though you can use other equipment, such as resistance bands, cable machines or even kettle bells.

The technique for kettlebellcurls is exactly the same as for dumbbell curls, but due to the position of the weight under your hand, you'll feel more tension on the lower portion of your biceps and forearms. The downside is that it's tempting to cheat and use swing to get the weight up, taking the focus away from your biceps and potentially causing injury.

Kettlebellcurls aren't as common, so they can be a good way to change up your training routine and give you new strength and size gains. Cycle between the two exercises in your biceps training, using the seated, standing and incline versions of each and changing up your set and repetition ranges as you go.

The design of a kettle bell makes it the best tool for certain exercises: the swing, Turkish getup, and goblet squat, and the single-arm clean, snatches, and A few of them—swing, clean, snatch—are also ballistic exercises that require explosive movement, and train deceleration, key components of almost any sport, and really, any real-life activity.

curl towel kettlebell workout muscle tips fitness training
(Source: www.muscleandfitness.com)

The genius of the kettle bell ’s structure—which is essentially a handle attached to small “cannonball”—allows you to do all of those exercises more effectively than you can with a dumbbell. However, the classic arm curl doesn’t generally fall into the category of “more effective with a kettle bell.”

The mindset is that your time would be better spent performing an exercise such as the clean, which involves your biceps, but works a lot of other muscle as well. Kettle bell Goblet Squat Curls This exercise is great for warming up: Use a light load and a slow tempo for two or three sets of 10 to 20 reps.

But use a heavy load and faster speeds for 30 to 60 second work periods, and it can create a massive metabolic disturbance—for sort of holy grail of simultaneous fat loss and arm training. Besides working your biceps, use it to improve your hip and ankle mobility, core stability, and to strengthen your upper back, forearms and shoulders.

In the down position of the squat, it also provides a valuable counter-balance, which allows you to get your trunk more upright and take pressure off your lower back and knees. The longer you can hold moderate to heavy weights in this position, the greater the load and rep total you’ll get with regular biceps curls.

Adding movement with a farmer’s walk makes it more of a whole-body challenge (and also helps the time pass a lot faster! Towel-Grip KettlebellCurls Trying to curl a kettle bell while gripping the handles is a hot mess because the weights flap around and can injure your arms and shoulders.

kettlebell biceps exercises workout triceps arm workouts styles tweet blast fitness
(Source: www.muscleandfitness.com)

Do 3 to 5 sets of 5 to 10 reps. You’ll annihilate your forearms and biceps, and improve your grip strength and endurance for big muscle-builders like the dead lift and pull ups. Unfortunately, Clint Eastwood never made a movie called, The Good, The Great and The Awesome.

There’s quite enough negativity in the real world without my highlighting the bad and ugly points about something we all love. The glutes and lats are the two largest muscles in the body for good reason—they bring us out of the fetal position.

They have the highest crossover effect to other activities, and if you did just these and nothing else, forever, you’d pretty much be able to handle anything that life threw at you. Call me biased, but I think there are more golden exercises associated with kettle bell training than with any other piece of equipment.

The fact that a kettle bell can be swung through two planes of motion during one repetition develops applicability to real life challenges and activities. A great deal of work can be achieved in a very short period of time with kettle bell complexes and visible results come very quickly for consistent swingers.

When kettle bell exercises are put together to form complexes and chains, a great deal of full body work in many movement patterns can be performed. If an exercise has a score of one, it means every rep will bring an untrained person further away from good form.

kettlebell curl bicep workout arms standing biceps kettle any curls workouts muscle build weight performing re guns naturally
(Source: kettleland.com)

Unfortunately, most kettle bell exercises score quite low on this scale, therefore require considerable technical coaching to ensure that every rep isn’t doing more harm than good. I didn’t realize this concept for the first few years of leading my own kettle bell class in London.

My regulars reached such a high level of skill that the class became completely inaccessible for most new starters. This led to my having to spend one-on-one time with newbies at massively discounted rates to develop a basic level of skill.

The bad point of group kettle bell classes is that they must remain super simple with a minimal exercise library. This is especially important if the goal is building a bigger class and ultimately being able to bring on another instructor.

Having a super simple session plan and sticking to it indefinitely may not sound great to you or some clients, but look at Hiram yoga. Instead, use your creativity to design a kick-ass repeatable class-plan that includes progressions and regressions suitable for all new-starters but challenging enough for the intermediates.

Use the ingredients of swings, crawling and any of the high-scoring exercises listed in the previous point and you have an unlimited choice of workout options. Just because a coach has a master’s degree in kinesiology, a personal trainer certification and ten years’ experience at competitive track and field, it doesn’t mean they know the first thing about using (let alone teaching) kettle bells.

biceps exercises kettlebell curl curls muscles hammer kettle workouts exercise bodybuilding ball fitness
(Source: www.pinterest.com)

Testosterone and overconfidence are rife in the personal training and coaching industry, which when mixed with a lack of knowledge is a dangerous combo. I would recommend a family member wanting to learn kettle bells to seek out anyone with an SFG or ROC certification.

I’ve been on a lot of really goodkettlebell courses (and bad ones) and there are some amazing world-class teachers out there. Unfortunately, none I know of (including those in the GS world) have technique testing standards to the same degree as Strongest and ROC.

When untrained chair-shaped humans swing heavy metal objects in two planes of motion, injury usually occurs. I’m all for training grip strength but if one of those slippery things flies out of your sweaty hand you could be in for a torn finger tendon (seen it happen).

These can be very useful for the top 1% of athletes who possess an existing elite level of body awareness, proprioception and mobility. For average, everyday athletes who live in chairs, they’re completely unsuitable and if performed for reps, they’re downright dangerous.

This danger warning is particularly relevant to those with a posteriorly tilted pelvis, which is approximately 60% of the American population. Posterior filters already start everyday hinge movements by flexing the lumbar vertebrae first.

kettlebell biceps curl triceps exercises workout arm workouts ultimate fitness muscle tweet blast
(Source: www.muscleandfitness.com)

Swinging a kettle bell overhead makes gravity do the role of the lats and cheats them out of a job during the back swing. When people use their shoulders to swing overhead, it takes away from their ability to produce force with their hip hinge.

I’m all for working joints through their full range of motion, but not at the cost of making a high-value exercise considerably less effective. If the goal is working the shoulder through its full range of motion during a hip hinge pattern, we have the snatch.

Of course, if you enjoy overhead swings and can perform them without overextending the lower back, then crack on. Extended wrists are a classic indicator of both untrained newbies and of coaches or athletes who have extensive barbell experience then jumped into kettle bells without any training or understanding.

An extended wrist sends a signal to the shoulder to move away from the midline, making a press or any overhead activity less stable (weaker). Also consider that 40% of power production comes from fascia, not muscle contractions (Carla Stucco’s Functional Atlas of Human Facial System).

By looking forward (extending the cervical spine) at the bottom of the swing, you’re cheating yourself out of potential power. A neutral cervical spine with the deep neck flexors engaged also facilitates a stronger neurological innervation to the abdominal and glutes.

kettlebell curls hammer curl exercise side skimble trainer exercises workout
(Source: www.skimble.com)

Most new students don’t know how to maintain a neutral cervical spine during a hinge pattern while swinging a heavy iron ball. When new students focus on keeping their neck neutral, many nod the head forward or point the chin out.

This promotes slight cervical extension, but it generally helps prevent the rest of their spine from flexing. After a new student has a few thousand swings under his/her belt and a strong hinge pattern has been established, it is then appropriate to switch to a neutral cervical spine position for more power.

I’m no advocate of the dumb saying, “no pain, no gain,” but I think that discomfort is an important factor that’s missing from the modern human’s life. I get that some people experience great bone pain when they’re learning to clean but sometimes that just comes with the turf of kettle bell training.

It is basically equivalent to curling the small Atlas stone. I've tried it today and it is very tendon intense, everything from the tips of your fingers to the elbows is involved.

I plan to use it at the end of my regular workouts as the fingers/palm/wrist/forearm/elbow strengthener. I'm going to try it with my curling belt! Seriously, sounds like a good exercise.

kettlebell curl biceps hand moves tips kettlebells hit exercise
(Source: www.johnnyfit.com)

I occasionally run a towel through my KB and let it hang behind my head from both hands — do some tricep extensions straight up — at the top of the lift I see how far apart I can press out my hands. Edit to add: for a forearm grip strengthener I occasionally do rows by inserting my hand through the handle and gripping the body of the KB — sort of like a monkey scratching hand posture supporting the load.

I can get the hand a little deeper and the load a little higher at the top of the movement. Downside I cannot do that with anywhere near a good row weight for me, so the back winds up not so taxed.

Often I'll drop it after 6 or 8 reps and pick up a heavier KB to do a few more normal rows to finish. Haha, how dare mired suggest such a thing But really, I think Pavel devotes a page or two to these in his addendum to Etc.

I actually do curls in my warm up, because I only do snatch once or twice a week, and don't do any other bent arm pulling. As I recall, Pavel included these in the original ROC book.

When I do them, I do them in the bottom of a squat with my elbows inside my legs. As I recall, Pavel included these in the original ROC book.

kettlebell bicep curls left exercises exercise workout skimble trainer biceps kettlebells arm
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When I do them, I do them in the bottom of a squat with my elbows inside my legs. I have the same issue, so I just do the goblets with the KB in the bottom up position.

Squeezing a heavier bell like that works you forearm, grip and chest as much as biceps. I also enjoy a nice bubble bath and the occasional glass of Chardonnay, so...

Sources
1 www.menshealth.com - https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a19547586/best-kettlebell-curl-exercises/
2 www.t-nation.com - https://www.t-nation.com/training/kettlebells-beat-dumbbells-for-biceps
3 thefitnessmaverick.com - https://thefitnessmaverick.com/kettlebell-bicep-exercises/
4 livehealthy.chron.com - https://livehealthy.chron.com/kettlebell-curls-vs-dumbbell-curls-4757.html
5 www.mh.co.za - https://www.mh.co.za/fitness/5-arm-curls-you-can-do-with-kettlebells/
6 www.kettlebellkings.com - https://www.kettlebellkings.com/blog/the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-of-kettlebell-training/
7 www.strongfirst.com - https://www.strongfirst.com/community/threads/bicep-curls-with-kettlebells.8245/