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Does Kettlebell Build Muscle

author
Brent Mccoy
• Thursday, 21 October, 2021
• 22 min read

If you don't associate kettle bell exercises with building muscle, well, that's understandable. But make no mistake: Kettle bells can be a huge ally in the quest for mass.

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(Source: functional-kba.blogspot.com)

Contents

As I explained in my article Grind to Grow: Try Your Squats and Presses with Kettle bells,” part of the reason the kettle bell triggers newfound strength and muscle growth is because of its offset shape. It forces the body to stabilize its joints differently from barbells, dumbbells, and other traditional bodybuilding equipment.

This forces your muscles to contract differently than normal, and increases the demand placed upon them. Look no further than the extra depth that every lifter instantly discovers when they front squat with a pair of kettle bells in the rack position, versus a barbell across the back.

With this new and increased range of motion comes increased muscular growth in your legs, and strength in your entire torso, from the inside out, including the all-important core musculature. Best of all, the kettle bell lends itself to a simple, but very challenging programming.

This 12-week program requires only two kettle bells and time for three workouts a week. But after one time through it, you'll find yourself more muscular in all the areas that matter: shoulders, upper back, upper chest, arms, legs, and posterior chain.

Mechanical Tension: Lifting heavier weights for lower reps, similar to the way powerlifters train; think multiple sets of 2-5 reps. Muscular Damage: Lifting moderate weights for medium to higher reps, similar to the way bodybuilders train; think multiple sets of 8-20 reps. Metabolic Stress: Doing either high reps or complexes where you don't set the weight down, producing intense burning and the release of metabolites like lactate.

kettlebell muscles swings worked exercises they work conventional swing workout during workouts
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Swing (single or double kettle bell): Lower body pulling Start the program with a pair of matching kettle bells you can press approximately 4-6 times.

Your goal is to do as many sets of each exercise, with perfect form, as you can in that time. Then, when you're ready, clean the kettle bells back into the rack position and perform a set of front squats.

Your goal is to do as many sets of swings as you can, with perfect form, in that time. To start this phase, determine your rep max (RM) with both the military press and the front squat using your two trusty kettle bells.

Always round down the number of reps if you hit a decimal point in your math. Your goal is to do as many sets of each exercise, with perfect form, as you can in that time.

Clean the kettle bells to the rack position, then perform a set of military presses. Clean the kettle bells back into the rack position, and perform a set of front squats.

kettlebell build muscles kettlebells lifting someone once said muscle doesn cavemantraining
(Source: www.cavemantraining.com)

Do an RM test with your pair of kettle bells for the swing. If not, use these weeks to keep practicing with the one-handed swing, trying to build up to 20 reps per hand, each at chest height.

Your goal is to do as many sets of swings as you can, with perfect form, in that time. Once again, find your RM for the military press and the front squat.

There's one big difference in these workouts: You'll clean the kettle bells to the rack position and perform a set of military presses, followed immediately by one set of front squats. When your rest time is over, clean the kettle bells back into the rack position and repeat.

This slight variation may not seem like much, but it increases the time under tension you experience and triggers metabolic stress. *Your RM will drop due to fatigue as the sets progress.

By this point, you should be able to comfortably swing a pair of kettle bells. Do an RM test with your pair of kettle bells for the swing.

kettlebell muscle gain kettlebells elivate movements exercise elivatefitness
(Source: blog.elivatefitness.com)

If not, keep on practicing with the one-handed swing, working up to 20 reps per hand, each at chest height. The amount of tension running through and across your abs will already be severe, especially combining the military presses and front squats in the same day.

However, if you can't live without ab training, I recommend you do hanging variations, like hanging leg raises, to decompress your spine from all the loading. Since this is a strength and muscle program, you need to eat a lot.

A tried-and-true starting point is to multiply your body weight (in pounds) by 15-20 for total calories. In my book, you can't beat the time-tested 30/40/30 split of protein/carbohydrates/fat when growth is the goal.

If you start putting on fatter than you'd like, cut back. Otherwise, your assignment is simple: Eat, sleep, lift, and grow.

The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. Using barbells or kettle bells to create the stimulus is an afterthought to most other factors in the equation like food, sleep, execution of the movements and intensity.

kettlebell exercises muscle
(Source: muscletipswomen.weebly.com)

Now that the obvious question is out of the way I hope you enjoy the details which lead to this statement. If you put the question “Can kettle bells build mass” to me I like to know “Why do you want to build muscle.

That was when I was put on a mass building program lifting weights and getting creatine. If you had cancer like my mother, you might have been lying in bed for several months and lost a lot of muscle mass.

This inhibits you from living a healthy life so you have to get back your strength to feel whole again. Before choosing your tool for building mass in the gym take a look at the big picture and whether you have ticked all of these boxes first.

Contrary to common belief you can stuff yourself with crappy food to build muscle and even to look like a bodybuilder or get strong as hell. Fletcher, one of the more illustrious powerlifters on YouTube with his hardcore style of personal training, took pride in his best days as a powerlifting world champion to have camera crews follow him around and record how many McDonald's meals he can eat a day.

This and other factors lead to him being forced to have bypass surgery, which was the low point of his life. However, do not expect to look like Sylvester Stallone or Jean Claude Van Dame with this regime.

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If you go out of the gym and there was no sweat, not a bit of excitement or fear in the session you might as well have stayed home. The intensity part is important as it is often not taught by gyms as they are afraid of liability cases when you get hurt.

Good programs work with 50% to 95% of your one repetition maximum and apply the principle of linear progression to make you stronger and build mass. Before we come to the tool the last thing to consider is what kind of rep scheme you follow.

It depends on whom you ask in which part of the year and whether the full moon is shining or not, but that is the consensus. Technically the kettle bell is a tool to trigger the body to build mass, but of the many levers you can pull, it is one of the smallest ones.

If you follow all the outlined basic principles for building mass, you will get bigger using kettle bells. The only caveat is here that kettle bells might be a better tool for advanced lifters to build mass rather than for beginners.

If you try certain exercises like cleans, overhead presses and dead lifts you will generally find that it is a lot easier to do the same weight with a barbell than with a kettle bell. If you load a barbell front squat with 2.5 kg on each side client's usually perform if they have the mobility to execute the movement.

turkish kettlebell muscle crossfit getup exercises sport hardstyle workouts sequence juggling cardio building styles abdominal strength lying extended arm
(Source: homefitnesslife.com)

If you then proceed to give them two 12 kg kettle bells, which is technically less weight and ask them to repeat they will struggle to get it done. Most exercises which are recommended to build mass with kettle bells are for advanced practitioners.

If you scan the internet for templates that use kettle bells to build mass you will find the following mentioned often There are also variations on the 5×5 template for more advanced lifters like mad cow 5×5 or the Texas method.

There have been studies and observations across the board which report that while you gain mass on GVT you might decline in strength. I personally think that GVT is to be recommended to fit individuals who have training experience under their belt and not to beginners.

My reasoning for that is outlined in my German volume training review for cross fitters. The main point is fatigue management and knowing when to quit before getting injured which makes this a no-go for beginners.

A habit which you should strive to eliminate as a beginner especially rather than magnify the effect actively. I can not overstate master the swing and get up first at least, maybe even a 100 kg barbell squat for good measure, before attempting this.

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You can progress to the next kettle bell when you do negative splits (meaning you need less time to recover than doing the exercises). Barbells have the advantage of added stability which lets you move bigger weights than kettle bells.

Also, once you progress you will have it easier with barbell training as heavyweights are more readily available than heavy kettle bells. Whether kettle bells or barbells are the better option for mass building I would be hesitant to say myself and is a different question from the one we started out with.

I lack the experience of mass building training templates as my main focus is strength. I find strength training to be the ultimate tool for that as it is very objective, demands discipline, grit and consistency.

The general strength community will not hesitate to point to the barbell as the superior tool for building mass. An additional locker room undercurrent of kettle bells being “pussy” does not help.

On this, I think there is not enough empirical evidence out there with heavy kettle bells and there is also not a lot of structured studies to be expected in the future due to the perceived higher risk of injury and availability of the tools and knowledge to conduct proper mass building with kettle bells. There are fewer examples of success for this to work as for training with barbells as the base of use cases to pick from is smaller.

kettlebell turkish muscle exercises exercise build academy onnit
(Source: www.onnit.com)

To find good instructions and equipment if you travel down this path will be harder as it is less readily available as for barbell training. If you can state that you build your 120 kg Herculean statue only with the help of kettle bells it will turn more heads than achieving the same goal utilizing barbells and dumbbells.

Since I have been using kettle bells my body feels more balanced, agile and resilient in all walks of life than when I did barbell training only These were all valid questions over a decade ago when kettle bells were first introduced, but get with the times my friends.

The Double Floor Press combines a shoulder and chest workout along with your core. This is a great chest exercise for those with shoulder issues, since you are only going as low as the floor rather than below as in normal benching, it takes a lot of strain off the rotator cuff.

Use this exercise if you want to build some massive upper body strength! An excellent upper-body pulling movement; the double bent over row will build strength in the back and biceps muscles.

Pulling exercises are a necessity to ensure balance for the upper body. The Double Front Squat is one of the best core and leg strengtheners out there.

swing kettlebell muscle every work body swings muscles wellandgood sweat workouts perfecting well trainer build glutes workout
(Source: www.pinterest.com)

You not only get the benefit of stronger legs, but your shoulders will be given a fantastic workout as well. Simply holding the kettle bells in place is taxing on your shoulders, upper back, arms, and core.

The double kettle bell swing will hit your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings, strengthening the entire posterior chain. Double swings are great progression that can be used to increase your strength and power.

The Turkish Get Up is great core exercise that also had tremendous benefits to your pressing ability. Since you go through a wide range of positions, your flexibility and mobility are challenged giving you a far greater exercise.

When you can start completing the lifts for 8-10 reps, increase weight. Looking cool requires flawless technique, accounting for all safety points, and training with intention.

However, since strength is a function of mobility and stability, we must pay homage to the details of healthy movement. No other tools in modern history have offered more for dynamic strength gains than kettle bells.

kettlebell building muscle exercises don why kettlebells caveman enthusiasts huge many single arm
(Source: www.cavemantraining.com)

Certainly there are trade-offs in training which must be considered when setting goals, and more strength should always be a top priority. How we look communicates our work ethic, discipline, overall health, confidence, and other aspects of our character.

Male or female it is important to maintain our muscle mass as we age and the kettle bell gets results. That’s why we train with kettle bells for massive shoulders, thick arms, solid legs, ripped abs and athletic skills for any task.

Two key variables in the strength and hypertrophy equation are “X” (the speed of the work) and “Y” (time under tension). We don’t want to isolate the targeted muscles, because that approach doesn’t yield as much mass.

Compound exercises are universally accepted as the most effective way to build muscle and strength. Compound movements involve more than one muscle group, and usually use two or more joint systems.

With double servings from a simple menu of exercises, we will stimulate the growth environment. The concept of irradiation is important for creating tension and linking tensing muscles together.

kettlebell muscle kings kettlebells build workout ripped building kg exercises
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One must force neuromuscular activity to call as much of the muscle fibers into the workload through a full range of motion. By making light training weights feel heavier during your reps, you force more supporting muscle tissue into activation.

We demand results, and that’s why we crush the handles tightly for the entire set. That’s why we flex our glutes, quads and abs as we stand through the top of our squats.

When we make our training more difficult by adding tension, we will force more hypertrophic adaptation with 85% resistance for sets of eight to twelve reps. The tempo of the lift and instructions for maintaining tension throughout the set are the missing pieces from most mass building plans.

Add tension and stay active as the resistance is loaded through the eccentric or “negative” phase. Pause and hold at the fully loaded position for at least one full second, sometimes up to five.

Exploiting this isometric position under great resistance yields significant results. To make the muscles grow, place great emphasis on the negative phase.

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(Source: www.pinterest.com)

A lifting tempo of 5-2-2 is a five-second negative, a two-second isometric pause, and a two second focused contraction until there is a full squeeze of the working muscle groups. Your breathing may need to change with the longer duration lifts, but never lose your structure.

“Breathing behind the shield” is an important cue to remember, especially when briefly holding those isometric positions. The get-up is a great drill to set up a strong and stable body.

It will get your shoulders fully functional, fortify strength, and build coordination throughout the entire kinetic chain. The snatch does a great job of eccentrically loading the posterior, but it happens so quickly that barely any time is spent under that tension.

This is why it is not the greatest muscle building” exercise even though what it does for the glutes, legs and abs is incredible. To achieve this most effectively, training weights should be in the calculated ranges of 80%, 90-95% and even beyond 100-105% efforts.

It’s great that Dragon Door manufactures the “in between” weights in increments of two kilograms. Having these options will help smooth out the growth curve so the jump up to a bigger kettle bell won’t take nearly as long as before.

kettlebell muscle exercises kettlebells building results swings weight caveman dictates gives dead end hypertrophy
(Source: www.cavemantraining.com)

Sets of double military presses will make your upper body, shoulders and arms more massive than single kettle bell work of the same volume. The beauty of training with kettle bells is that asymmetries are attacked since each weight must be unilaterally stabilized.

Perfect technique doesn’t just make you look cool, it is also the only way to achieve your strength or size goal. Your strength will build as you slowly increase the resistance, but be smart, if there is pain then stop.

Training with a coach is the surest way to get rock solid technique in the shortest time possible. Other ways to check your technique are training with a partner or taking video of your lifts.

To force the muscles grow, this program will call for “heavy” lifts. Finding the right work / life balance in a lifting program is important for continued progress.

I like to split the year up in four periods and let my fitness goals change with the seasons. It is a harmonious to try to gain size in the fall, strength in the winter, hypertrophy in the spring, and then get ripped for the summer.

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For mass gaining programs, I would recommend lifting four days a week. This template demonstrates the simplicity of working opposite modalities to push and pull your way to a bigger, stronger body.

After making progress with very rigorous training days, it’s necessary to bounce back. Here are a few simple tips to help shorten recovery time between training days: set a bedtime, eat for recovery not flavor, drink a gallon of water every day, stretch twice a day, nap daily, limit inflammatory foods like sugar and alcohol.

The only thing missing from this mass building plan is eating, abs and arms. I just stick to a few simple principles to fuel muscle growth while keeping me lean in the process.

The heavy squats, weighted pull ups and other such drills require so much abdominal recruitment that accessory work is not necessary. Even though it is difficult to balance gaining mass and strength while keeping a lean physique, it can be done masterfully.

Similar to the abdomen, the arms are always working, so making them grow is as easy as adding a few extra sets and reps before or after your workout finishers. The two drills below do a great job of isolating and adding volume to the biceps and triceps.

kettlebell muscle build exercises onnit workouts
(Source: www.onnit.com)

Rome wasn’t built in a week, so take time building your physique. While there are many muscle building techniques and strategies out there to sort through, every expert I have asked for help has employed the principles in this post on some level.

This is how to grow muscle : lift heavy kettle bells, eat, sleep, repeat! Greetings, last year I started with a 16 kg kettle bell but injured my back due to stupidity in technique, so I gave it a go again last month with a lighter weight and went with an 8 kg.

I have experienced some weight loss with the garbage around my waist starting to fade but I have not gained any muscle. I can still see my rib cage and my neck looks like what you see on Bill Clinton and Al Sharpton.

I believe I am ready to move on now to a higher weight as the 8 kg feels at times like swinging a doll but am I looking for one that would help both with cardio and boosting muscle growth. The 24 kg and 32 kg seem more of a preferred choice among those who have experienced solid gains and developed transformations but I'm not sure if that is too big a leap.

Basically, I'd like to hear about your individual experiences on what weight(s) you have used to notice a growth in your physique. This is quite helpful and yes, I am also limited financially, so I am looking for a weight which I will not outgrow fairly quickly.

kettlebell muscle building exercises caveman kettlebells strength hypertrophy cavemantraining mass
(Source: www.cavemantraining.com)

Do you have a suggestion on which kettle bell brand(s) offer horns wide enough to accommodate two hands comfortably? I am able to work the 40 kg on some moves (swings, goblets & TGU) but still use the 24 a lot.

Greetings, last year I started with a 16 kg kettle bell but injured my back due to stupidity in technique, so I gave it a go again last month with a lighter weight and went with an 8 kg. I have experienced some weight loss with the garbage around my waist starting to fade but I have not gained any muscle.

I can still see my rib cage and my neck looks like what you see on Bill Clinton and Al Sharpton. I believe I am ready to move on now to a higher weight as the 8 kg feels at times like swinging a doll but am I looking for one that would help both with cardio and boosting muscle growth.

The 24 kg and 32 kg seem more of a preferred choice among those who have experienced solid gains and developed transformations but I'm not sure if that is too big a leap. Basically, I'd like to hear about your individual experiences on what weight(s) you have used to notice a growth in your physique.

Basically you could still progress with it... Do dead lifts, 2 arm swings, progress to one arm swings, practice cleans, try to press it with leg drive until you can strict press it. This is quite helpful and yes, I am also limited financially, so I am looking for a weight which I will not outgrow fairly quickly.

kettlebell clean press muscle workout breakingmuscle body perfect kettlebells exercises doing workouts chest
(Source: breakingmuscle.com)

Do you have a suggestion on which kettle bell brand(s) offer horns wide enough to accommodate two hands comfortably? “Beginner” has a very wide range of physical starting states, even if all people are equally new to kettle bells.

As to brand, I think most are likely OK for 2 hand swings, but I can say for sure that Rogue is good. swing, welcome to Strongest Greetings, last year I started with a 16 kg kettle bell ...

Do you have a suggestion on which kettle bell brand(s) offer horns wide enough to accommodate two hands comfortably? I am able to work the 40 kg on some moves (swings, goblets & TGU) but still use the 24 a lot.

Obviously the selection of lifts should be thought through carefully (to avoid trauma) and training has to be planned. I started my Strongest journey with the purchase of a 24 and a Kindle copy of Simple&Sinister.

“Beginner” has a very wide range of physical starting states, even if all people are equally new to kettle bells. It describes how to progress. As to brand, I think most are likely OK for 2 hand swings, but I can say for sure that Rogue is good.

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I purchased a used copy of Simple & Sinister from Casebooks and hope to receive it by early next week. Best, swing, welcome to Strongest I take it you already own a 16 kg bell and if 8 kg is too light, why not just go with the 16 kg and continue progressing.

Unfortunately I no longer have the 16 kg kettle bell as I returned it shortly after injuring my back. I would consider buying another 16 kg but would prefer a weight that would stay challenging for a while and help with building muscle.

Do any of you have any experiences with the Pavel Brand kettle bells that are sold on the Strongest online store? I do not think it is a mistake to invest in a small collection of Kettle bells from 8,16,24,32 at least (I have more), but the 32 gave me what the 24 never could, but I would not be there without the 16 and the 24.

For hypertrophy, you need a heavier KB than whatever you're comfortably doing volume with now (progressive overload). Set Simple as your objective goal & let the The come with it (Help Me Screw Things Up).

My wife yelled at me when the FedEx guy was struggling up the driveway with double 32s..... To add to the already good suggestions above, if you only want to do swing, and you really only can afford one kettle bell, the 24 should probably be your go-to bell for now.

kettlebell lifting build muscles someone once said doesn stamina endurance creates accuracy flexibility strength muscle does power only cavemantraining
(Source: www.cavemantraining.com)

16 will be outgrown very fast in most cases for men, unless you have existing medical conditions or are of very small build. If you then cannot add more kettle bells, you can do the progression: dead lifts (to practice hinging, bracing, ..., you will get the drills in SAS), 2 hands swings, 1 hand swings, snatch (you may or may not need a lighter kettle bell to learn the snatch though).

If you also want to do other moves that involve arm and shoulder muscles (TGU, press, ...), you will probably also need at least the 16, unless you are already quite strong. A kettle bell is of no benefit unless it is an appropriate weight for your level of strength and technique, for the drills you are using it for, and for your goals and programming.

Do you have a suggestion on which kettle bell brand(s) offer horns wide enough to accommodate two hands comfortably? I own and have used a selection of DragonDoor, Rogue, and Perform Better cast iron bells, and competition bells from Kettle bell Kings and Kettle bells USA (as well as briefly handling a number of other brands). They may be usable for two-arm swings, but none of them are comfortable.

And I think chasing big bells for two arm swings is not an economic strategy, and not necessary to any training goals. For overloading swings specifically, a T-handle (manufactured or DIY) is much more economical (and comfortable).

New York Barbell has these TDS wide handle kettle bells for sale. I haven't used one, so I can't speak to their fit and finish but the handles look wider than normal in the picture.

kettlebell swing snatch carry kettlebells training muscles muscle method strength workout scientific analysis claims gaining popularity conditioning lot there injury
(Source: breakingmuscle.com)

The question I would be asking myself is... “have I corrected my form issues?” You said you screwed your back up with a 16 kg and poor technique so you bought a 8k. You can get away with it with light weight but moving up to a 24 kg is just asking for more trouble if your form isn’t spot on.

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Sources
1 www.nbcnews.com - https://www.nbcnews.com/shopping/fitness/best-kettlebells-n1246049
2 heavy.com - https://heavy.com/sports/2020/02/best-kettlebells/
3 fitterliving.com - https://fitterliving.com/best-adjustable-kettlebells/