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How To Curl Kettlebell

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
Bob Roberts
• Monday, 12 October, 2020
• 13 min read
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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.”

What’s more, for some kettle bell experts, the idea of doing biceps curls is simply a waste of time. 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.

kettlebell workout curl routine gunslinger
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Adding movement with a farmer’s walk makes it more of a whole-body challenge (and also helps the time pass a lot faster! 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. 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. 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.

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(Source: pomegranatebandit.wordpress.com)

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! 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.

However, kettle bells provide exclusive benefits and unique bicep stimulation that are difficult to replicate with other training tools including standard free-weights. Besides the bell hanging below the writs which creates a constant pulling sensation on the biceps, it’s almost impossible to alleviate tension at the top of the movement by cheating and curling the weights too high.

With this variation, the kettle bells pressing against the forearms will inhibit this common cheating technique as it feels very unnatural and uncomfortable to bring your hands beyond chest height. In addition, any swinging or excessive use of momentum will also result in the kettle bells banging against the forearms creating a very unpleasant experience.

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(Source: www.muscleandfitness.com)

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.

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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. Kettle bells can be a great tool to use in place of more traditional bicep exercises.

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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.

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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. 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.

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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! 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. You may actually find it easier to turn your hand so your palm faces inward and perform hammer curls when using kettle bells.

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. Kettle bell curls 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.

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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. 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. 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.

wod wodwell beast
(Source: wodwell.com)

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.

Two to three sets of 6-10 controlled reps will nail the biceps without unnecessarily fatiguing the lower body. This variation keeps you from fully straightening the arms at the bottom or curling excessively high at the top.

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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.

Most Greeks will give you the look and grunt if you mention bicep curl and kettle bell in one sentence. If you’re real lucky, you’ll be able to walk away without getting a kettle ball thrown at you!

But stuff all that, lets set a couple of things straight, yes it’s possible that there are superior tools to work the biceps, for me it’s the following and in that order: Chin-ups at different widths between grip Barbell biceps curls Dumbbells (they’re the best for working all angles) Tax

But, that doesn’t mean you can’t work the biceps with a kettle bell, perhaps you don’t have the money, perhaps you’re designing a complex in which you don’t want to put the weight down and grab another tool to continue the job, perhaps it’s for different reason. Whatever the reason is, don’t pay any attention to those that grunt at you when you say kettle bell and bicep curl ”.

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If you plan it right and have correct form and technique the kettle bell can actually be a great tool to work the biceps brachial and brachialis. I have been doing dead curls in particular, the reason I like dead curls is that I want to avoid any tendon issues, which I believe can quite quickly be experienced if they stay under constant tension and making moves in angles they’re not used too.

Fun fact, did you know that your biceps are not the prime mover in elbow flexion? 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. 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.

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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.

I curl them to my forehead like a plate curl, but works the wrist in the other direction. John Brookfield has a lot of different kettlebellcurl variations to target the hands, wrists, and arms. 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.

When I do them, I do them in the bottom of a squat with my elbows inside my legs. Squeezing a heavier bell like that works you forearm, grip and chest as much as biceps.

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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.mh.co.za - https://www.mh.co.za/fitness/5-arm-curls-you-can-do-with-kettlebells/
3 www.advancedhumanperformance.com - https://www.advancedhumanperformance.com/six-unique-kettlebell-exercises-to-crush-your-biceps
4 thefitnessmaverick.com - https://thefitnessmaverick.com/kettlebell-bicep-exercises/
5 livehealthy.chron.com - https://livehealthy.chron.com/kettlebell-curls-vs-dumbbell-curls-4757.html
6 www.t-nation.com - https://www.t-nation.com/training/kettlebells-beat-dumbbells-for-biceps
7 www.cavemantraining.com - https://www.cavemantraining.com/caveman-kettlebells/bicep-curls-kettlebells/
8 www.strongfirst.com - https://www.strongfirst.com/community/threads/bicep-curls-with-kettlebells.8245/