In essence the kettle bells force you to use proper curling technique as typical cheating methods become limited if not completely nullified. Finally, you’ll want to resist having your arms fully straighten at the bottom of the movement as this will release tension from the biceps as well as cause the handles to slip out of your palms.
Due to the high levels of continuous tension and bicep innervation, I recommend using slightly lower reps which not only allows greater taxing of fast twitch muscle fibers but also ensures form and technique don’t degrade. Dumbbell incline curls are a bodybuilding staple as the simultaneous stretch and overload has been scientifically shown to maximize micro-trauma and muscle damage, thereby eliciting significant levels of muscular hypertrophy.
As a result, there’s an incredible amount of blood flow, muscular pump, intramuscular solmization, cellular swelling, and metabolic stress all of which have been linked to triggering muscle hypertrophy. However, the lighter loads combined with constant tension will leave your biceps screaming at the end of each set producing muscular pumps and cellular swelling difficult to replicate with other movements.
Because of the lighter loads you’ll be forced to employ, kettle bell hammer curls are conducive for moderate and higher rep ranges of 8-15 repetitions of approximately 2-3 sets. This is due to the incredibly strict form and reduced momentum required to maintain balance combined with heightened levels of continuous tension on the biceps.
However, because of the kettle bells’ unique loading features, the top position is actually quite taxing on the biceps provide constant tension with little if any relief throughout the movement. In addition, the kneeling position ensures the lifter does not twist or contort their body as a means of intentionally providing tension relief to the arms, as any squirming, shifting, or cheating, will result in loosing your balance and dumping the load.
Because of the significant time-under-tension (TUT) effect and extended time between repetitions, 2-3 sets of 5-7 reps per arm will more than suffice for this grueling bicep movement. As you approach the end of each set, the pain will be almost unbearable however the results in terms of growth and strength agreements will be worth the momentary discomfort.
This slightly angled position combined with the hanging nature of the kettle bells provides continuous levels of significant tension throughout the movement thereby creating occlusion and cellular swelling of the biceps. The resulting levels of intramuscular tension and metabolic stress turn this simple squat and curl motion into an incredibly potent stimulus for eliciting growth in the arms.
First, to ensure the lifter doesn’t dump the load this variation prohibits the individual from fully straightening the arms at the bottom or curling excessively high at the top. Second, this curling variation promotes optimal shoulder positioning and postural alignment, which is something most lifters struggle with when training biceps.
Besides improving spinal mechanics this does wonders for crushing the biceps as it eliminates the possibility of the shoulders becoming overly involved in the movement. Many individuals lack the ability to keep the wrists locked during curls, which can ultimately produce strain on the surrounding connective tissue, tendons, and ligaments.
This ensures the lifter uses smooth mechanics and controlled motions ultimately inducing a significant hypertrophy stimulus to the biceps. 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.
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.
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.
I’m not telling you to start solely using kettle bells in your bicep routine. 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. The Fitness Maverick Online Coaching Program gives you the EXACT system you need to finally gain traction and make breakthrough progress.
Also known as “The Fitness Maverick”, Gareth specializes in smarter training techniques to get you strong and looking great naked year round! 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.
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.
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.
As an added bonus, this exercise improves lower body mobility, hip mechanics, and squatting technique. This variation keeps you from fully straightening the arms at the bottom or curling excessively high at the top.
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.