But sometimes it helps to get a bit more focused forearm work, too, and that's where the bottoms-up clean to rotation from Men's Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., comes in. But holding a kettle bell upside-down, the bell overhead, requires fine balance and control from your smaller forearm muscles.
“If your forearms aren't fully perpendicular to the ground, the bells will tip,” says Samuel. “And we finish with forearm rotation,” says Samuel, “forcing that much more control during the motion.”
All of this gives your forearms little chance to rest, pumping them up and keeping your mind in the game, too. Hinge forward, keeping your core tight, then explode through your hips, driving the kettle bells upwards.
“You can also use this as a warm up,” says Samuel, “ramping your heart rate and exciting your muscles for the challenges to come.” For more tips and routines from Samuel, check out our full slate of Ex and Sole workouts.
If you want to try an even more dedicated routine, consider Ex's New Rules of Muscle program. Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., is the fitness director of Men's Health and a certified trainer with more than 10 years of training experience.
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:
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.
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.
If you watch serious strength athletes train, there is a lot of resting going on and some very serious attention paid to good form. But have you ever been in the middle of one of those workouts and wished you were just smashing yourself to pieces and your breath was fast and wild?
I first started playing around with this idea after watching a Rich Fronting video. Endurance athletes will be familiar with this kind of work as it’s quite common to base entire workouts off performing set intervals.
And if you think about all anaerobic work as being the same — because it uses the same energy system — then what I’m about to recommend is not much different to running 60 m repeats on the minute for most people. Leg extensions won’t cut it for this challenge (although it would be an incredible way to give yourself some world-class Does).
I don’t have any science to back it up, just personal observation, but quick kettle bell lifts done with high weight for high reps leads to some big muscle gains, as well as leaving you feeling like you’ve just been hit by a truck. While there are plenty of great exercises to choose from, many require a lot of technical skill or mobility that many people simply lack.
We’re after sucker-punch simple exercises that give that great knockout one-two of being easy to learn and incredibly powerful in terms of results. If you look back at iron history you’ll see that old-time greats like Arnold used to favor cheat curls — what ended up being a reverse grip hang power clean.
That’s exactly what the kettle bell clean is, with the added bonus that comes with the swing elements found within it. For those counting — this workout, if done for the full thirty minutes, consists of 300 double kettlebellcleans.
For men, it comes out to 6,600 kg lifted in only thirty minutes, which is why it will work so well for muscle growth as well as for power endurance and conditioning. If you want big gains in strength and size precede this part of the workout with either heavy dead lifts or squats.
When it comes to developing some impressive upper body size and strength the double clean is incredibly effective. It mimics the action of the hang power clean yet allows people with wrist injuries to still train them, trains the hip hinge better, and allows you to work at a speed to which the fast twitch fibers really respond.
Sitting down with support for your torso and performing a biceps curl would be the best form of an isolation exercise as the support work is handled by the seat so you can focus on the curl. It just requires you to know your kettle bell grips and how to adjust your posture during the movement.
A question asked over and over again “can kettle bells be used for isolation exercises?”, and usually met with the answer of kettlebellcleans are great for the biceps ”. The short answer to whether they can be used for isolation is YES they can, and NO, kettlebellcleans are not intended to target the biceps.
It’s usually people that have just started kettle bell training or been doing things wrong for a long time that suggest this. For this, I suggest reading our Preventing Kettle bell Training Injuries book.
In fact, kettle bells are in a way superior for this topic, however, it requires a lot more investment, the investment of time to learn how to use them properly and knowing how to adjust your stance, your posture, and above all, knowing how to perform the movements (see Kettle bell Exercise Encyclopedia). The kneeling and bending forward removes a lot of work usually done by the body stand upright, hence, a great way to isolate the curl.
The gorilla curl is awesome, but you need to get the angle of the elbow right, know how to grip and transition the handle. But you could apply nearly the same position but seated and curl with just one arm to work more on isolation.
Here is a video with several techniques I played around with a long time ago. Taco Fleur Russian Gregory Sport Institute Kettle bell Coach, Caveman training Certified, IFF Certified Kettle bell Teacher, Kettle bell Sport Rank 2, HardstyleFit Kettle bell Level 1 Instructor., CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, CrossFit Judges Certificate, CrossFit Lesson Planning Certificate, Kettle bells Level 2 Trainer, Kettle bell Science and Application, MMA Fitness Level 2, MMA Conditioning Level 1, BJJ Purple Belt and more.
With this kettle bell program, you will show your shoulders and back muscles, some training love. This lifts your chest and aligns your spine, making you appear stronger, longer and most of all toned and leaner through your core.
Also, your latissimi Doris, which span most of your back, are the widest muscles in the body. Focus on maintaining control through the entire range of motion of each exercise.
Start on the floor in a side plank on your right, forearm about an arm’s-length away from a kettle bell, with left arm extended perpendicular from the body and holding the kettle bell handle with an overhand grip. Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a kettle bell by the bell with both hands at the chest, arms bent by your sides.
Keeping your torso still and arms straight, raise the weight overhead until your biceps hug your ears. Start in a plank position with your right hand on a sturdy chair, box or bench.
Your left hand holding a kettle bell by the handle with your arm long and palm facing right. Sit on the floor with legs extended, holding a kettle bell by the horns with both hands at the chest, your arms bent by your sides.
Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a kettle bell by the bell with both hands, arms extended in front of you at shoulder height. Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a kettle bell by the handle with both hands with an overhand grip, arms long.
Pull the kettle bell up to the chest, bending arms wide to the sides and keeping wrists in line with forearms, pausing for 2 seconds at top. Stand with feet, hip-width apart, holding a kettle bell by the handle with both hands and palms facing each other, arms long.
Shift the kettle bell into the right hand and, with a straight arm, pull the weight laterally toward right and up to shoulder height with the palm facing down.