Kettlebell Upper Body

Danielle Fletcher
• Friday, 20 November, 2020
• 11 min read

Many people are involved in sports and activities that focus purely on the lower body, like biking for example. Adding a collection of balanced upper body exercises can create a synergy between the upper and lower body.

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First I introduce you to upperbodykettlebell warm-ups and then progress to stabilization exercises, upper body pulling and pushing and finally combination movements. Depending on your goals you may to choose to perform more reps with a lighter kettle bell or less with a heavier one.

Before you begin challenging yourself with kettle bell exercises for the upper body it is sensible to warm up the muscles first. I have listed two general kettle bell exercises for you to use below but you should also replicate the movements that you will be performing in your workout with a lighter load.

The kettle bell slingshot is an excellent exercise for warming up the shoulders, forearms and upper body. Keep the chest up and hips stationary as you rotate the kettle bell around the body.

The kettle bell halo will help to warm up the shoulder girdle, arms and upper back. Do not overload this exercise with a heavy kettle bell, the benefits come from the mobility generated by the movement rather than the weight used.

Building a solid foundation with the ability to stabilize in all positions means your larger muscles can work more effectively without you getting injured. This overhead kettle bell exercise will develop stabilization in the shoulders and upper body.

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Hold the kettle bell overhead with a locked out arm and straight wrist. Next place the one-foot forwards into the half kneeling position and then stand up.

The kettle bell windmill will challenge your shoulder stability further while at the same time working into your core muscles. Keep your top arm locked out and wrist straight throughout the exercise.

The rear leg should be straight and take most of the weight as you reach down towards the front foot. The kettle bell Turkish get up is the ultimate full body stabilization and mobility developing exercise.

Move slowly through all phases of the kettle bell exercise paying particular attention to the areas that challenge you the most. The kettle bell Turkish get up can be thought of as an assessment tool so if you do find a certain section difficult be sure to practice that phase repeatedly.

Pulling exercises are also excellent for fat loss as there is a lot of muscle mass on the back of the body that when stimulated will help to raise your metabolic rate. If you fail to learn over far enough forwards then you will find you will be rowing upwards rather than backwards.

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Keep your weight back on your heels so you feel the tension in your hamstrings and glutes. As with the regular kettle bell row the challenge is to keep the muscle activation away from the upper trapezium and neck.

Keeping your feet close together will help create space for the kettle bell to move up the side of the body. The abdominal muscles should be braced as the kettle bell is rowed backwards and then lowered slowly.

Beginners should master the plank and push up exercises before even attempting this movement because the demands on shoulder stability and core control are high. If you do sometimes struggle with getting the correct lean over angle while rowing then this exercise takes away that problem.

Another variation is to use just one kettle bell and place the other hand on a bench or, my favorite, a Paraclete. At the top of the swing the kettle bell is pulled backwards with a horizontal forearm position and a strong wrist.

You will experience a nice opening up of the chest at the top position. As with all dead lift based kettle bell exercises squeeze the buttocks tight at the top of the movement and brace the abs.

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Pushing exercises will work into the chest, shoulders, triceps and core muscles. The kettle bell half kneeing press exercise will develop the shoulders, triceps, lats and core muscles.

From the half kneeling position keep the buttocks tight and the upper body upright. Be sure to lower the kettle bell with control from the top position to activate the Lats on the way down.

Practice : body alignment is very important with this exercise so be sure to stay upright as you press. The kettle bell push press will add size and strength to your upper body like no other.

When the kettle bell is held against the chest in the racked position, starting the press from here puts you in a slight mechanical disadvantage. Adding a very shallow squat and then locking the legs out and squeezing the buttocks will help pop the kettle bell up.

Squeeze the kettle bell handle nice and tight as you press and lower back down with control. With practice, you will be able to lift heavier weights than you ever imagined using this technique and thus add more size and strength.

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The kettle bell clean and press is a big full body exercise for the entire upper body. As this exercise is based off the dead lift movement pattern be sure to use your hips and buttocks to lift the weight into the racked position rather than the shoulders.

The kettle bell sit and press is an excellent exercise for the shoulders and chest as well as the core muscles. The legs are kept straight throughout this entire exercise which helps to improve hip and hamstring mobility.

Return down to the floor slowly resisting gravity and feeling the activation in your core muscles. The true beauty of kettle bell training is that many of the exercises combine movements that activate hundreds of muscles at a time.

Not only will the thruster develop explosive power in the legs but also teach you to connect the lower body with the upper body effectively. So for sports, fat loss or just improving your cardio this is a great exercise to choose.

Be sure to squat down so your thighs reach at least parallel with the floor to engage your buttocks properly. Practice : work up to 10 reps on each side and complete 3 sets.

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The kettle bell lunge and press with strengthen the whole body while at the same time challenging your cardio. The reverse lunge will strengthen the legs, buttocks and core muscles, while the overhead press challenges the upper body.

As with the kettle bell thruster the lunge and press teaches you to connect the lower body with the upper body so is excellent for sports. To fully activate the glutes be sure to drop the back knee down to the floor as deep as possible.

A full body movement that is explosive from the floor to the top position. The kettle bell snatch is predominantly a pulling exercise that works both the upper and lower body.

The exercises are broken down into Warm Ups, Stabilization, Pulling, Pushing and Full Body Combinations. All beginners should develop a strong level of stabilization before moving onto more strength based exercises.

Pulling and pushing exercises should be split equally in order to avoid injuries and create a balanced body. The above list is missing 2 vital movement patterns, horizontal pushing and vertical pulling, both of these are difficult to achieve with kettle bells.

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You could perform an upper and lower body workout in one day to save time. Depending on what exercises you perform, the intensity, and how quickly you recover yes you can use kettle bells daily.

Hold a kettle bell in each hand and rest them at shoulder height, with your palms facing forward and your elbows bent. Make sure to keep your core engaged and hips tucked to avoid arching your lower back as you lift your arms.

Slowly bend your elbows to lower the weights back down to the starting position. Start standing with your feet about hip-width apart and holding a kettle bell up at your chest with both hands gripping the handle.

Lift the weight to eye level and slowly circle it around your head counterclockwise, making a halo. As you move the weight around your head, maintain a tight core, and keep your elbows close to your body to engage your triceps.

Hold a kettle bell in each hand and rest them at your shoulders with your palms facing out and up and the weight hanging against the back of your forearms. Bend your knees slightly, and then in one explosive movement, push the weight overhead and straighten both of your legs simultaneously.

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Slowly lower the weights back to shoulder height while bending both knees to complete one rep. Hold a kettle bell in one hand and rest it on your shoulder with your palm facing out and up and the weight hanging against the back of your forearm.

Bend your knees slightly, and then in one explosive movement, push the weight overhead and straighten both of your legs simultaneously. Slowly lower the weight back to chest height while bending both knees to complete one rep.

Start in a high plank with a kettle bell on the floor next to your right hand, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, legs extended behind you and your feet a bit wider than hip-width apart (it'll help with stability), and your core and glutes engaged. Hold a kettle bell in each hand by the handle with an underhand grip, your palms facing each other.

Press the weights toward the ceiling, straightening your elbows completely at the top and keeping your shoulder blades flat on the floor. Hold a kettle bell in one hand by the handle with an underhand grip, your palm facing in.

Press the weight toward the ceiling, straightening your elbow completely at the top and keeping your shoulder blades flat on the floor. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a kettle bell in each hand by the handle with your arms at your sides.

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Gaze at the ground a few inches in front of your feet to keep your neck in a neutral, comfortable position. Do a row by pulling the weights toward your chest, keeping your elbows hugged close to your body.

Pause here, squeezing your shoulder blades, and then slowly lower the weights by extending your arms toward the floor. Gaze at the ground a few inches in front of your feet to keep your neck in a comfortable position.

Do a row by pulling the weight up toward your chest, keeping your elbow hugged close to your body. Pause here, squeezing your shoulder blades, and then slowly lower the weight by extending your arm toward the floor.

By kneeling with one knee with the overhead press, you’ll take a lot of pressure off your shoulders because your stabilizer muscles will work harder to keep your body steady. It also prevents you from cheating: once you start to lean backward, extend your lower back, or twist, you’ll lose balance and stop.

Keep your wrists straight, tense your body, squeeze your back glute, and drive the kettle bell directly overhead. But this exercise isn’t limited by your grip strength; instead, the instant you lose connection somewhere in your body, the kettle bell will fall.

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To master this exercise, your entire body needs to my in sync, which builds correct movement mechanics and reduces shoulder pain. Keep your wrists straight, tense your body, squeeze your glutes, and drive the kettle bell directly overhead.

Farmer carries are an old-school, muscle-building staple that builds strong shoulders, thick forearms, and a beastly grip. It’s simple, effective, and pain-free; better still, you’ll see more strength in pulling exercises like dead lifts and rows because of the stronger grip.

Unlike dumbbell bench presses, which act like a seesaw at your hand, kettle bells allow for a direct line of pull down the arm and through the shoulder. Lie on a flat bench with your feet firmly planted into the ground and your shoulder blades squeezed together.

Rather than twisting and bending your spine with exercises like sit-ups and wood chops, tall-kneeling halos hammer your core from many angles while keeping your body neutral.

Other Articles You Might Be Interested In

01: The 6 Best Kettlebell Exercises You Need To Do
02: The Kettlebell Snatch: The Mother Of All Kettlebell Exercises
03: Does It Matter What Kettlebell You Buy
04: Does Kettlebell Build Muscle
05: Does Kettlebell Burn Belly Fat
06: Does Kettlebell Burn Fat
07: Does Kettlebell Burn More Calories
08: Does Kettlebell Count As Weight Training
09: Does Kettlebell Exercises Burn Fat
10: Does Kettlebell Help Lose Weight
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