Best muscle building kettle bell exercises

Best muscle building kettle bell exercises

This is the first part in a series of articles I’m writing on the best muscle building exercises using unconventional equipment and your own bodyweight. In this article, I’m going to focus on my personal favourite, kettle bells.

Kettle bells have long been recognised as one of the best muscle building tools on the market, but it is only recently that they have become available to the general public, thanks to the shift in the fitness industry towards functional training methods. I’m going to list an exercise below for each major body part and explain how this benefits the particular muscle group it targets.

Best muscle building kettle bell exercise for the chest

Double kettle bell floor press

Basically a chest press done lying on the floor.  This breaks the eccentric / concentric chain during the movement – this means that because you have less elasticity in your muscles as you lower the weights, your chest becomes more powerful from a less contracted position. This also eliminates the possibility of using leg drive as many people do when lying on a bench, therefore making the chest work even harder.

Best muscle building kettle bell exercise for the arms

Single arm bottoms up cleans

Perform a kettle bell clean, but keep the bottom of the kettle bell pointing towards the sky throughout the movement. This movement moves along a very similar trajectory to a Hammer curl with dumbells, so the biceps are immediately engaged. As an added bonus, the strain of having to grip as tightly as possible in order to keep the bottom of the kettle bell upright only serves to work the forearms doubly as hard as any other curl variation!

Best muscle building kettle bell exercise for the shoulders

Alternating shoulder press

Similar to a Shoulder press with dumbells, but the thick nature of the kettlebell’s handle makes this as much a grip exercise as a shoulder exercise! By alternating the arm that presses, the core is required to work considerably harder than normal, while holding a kettle bell in the “rack position” also challenges the stability of the shoulder girdle.

Best muscle building kettle bell exercise for the abs


There are nothing quite like Windmills if you want to develop powerful and ultra firm obliques. The resisted crunching motion not only sky rockets your rotational strength, it also develops power in the whole posterior chain – your hamstrings, your glutes and your lower back.

Best muscle building kettle bell exercise for the legs

Double kettle bell front squats

The squat is the king of all lower body exercises, perhaps even the king of all exercises bar none and with kettle bells it becomes even more regal! Having the load placed at the front of the body as opposed to the traditional Squat with barbell, where the load is placed at the back, puts a totally different strain on the stabilising muscles being engaged during the movement. This method also hugely increases the core strength of the exerciser through having to maintain an upright position throughout the descent.

Best muscle building kettle bell sample workout:

  • Double kettle bell front squats: 5 sets of 5 reps
  • Floor press: 5 x 5
  • Bottoms up cleans: 5 x 5 per arm
  • Alternating shoulder press: 5 x 10
  • Windmills: 3 x 5 per arm

David Robertson

David Robertson is one of only a handful of Certified Kettlebell Teachers through the IKFF - International Kettlebell & Fitness Federation, widely considered to be the global gold standard in kettlebell training.

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