post Kettlebell Arm Exercises (14 Workouts for Toned Arms)

Kettlebell Arm Exercises (14 Workouts for Toned Arms)

Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers | Senior Coach
Last updated: December 28, 2023
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Kettlebells are one of the most functional equipment used across various training methods to achieve strength and cardio goals.

However, kettlebells are extremely useful for building arm muscles such as your biceps and triceps because they allow the most significant range of motion at the shoulder and elbow joints.

Based on my experience as a certified personal trainer and 13-hour research, I singled out the best kettlebell arm exercises to include in your workout regime.

You will be ready to implement these exercises and know everything about sets, reps, and rest intervals.

Quick Summary

  • The best kettlebell exercises for arm development include the kettlebell overhead press, bicep curl, tall kneeling press, and goblet squats.
  • The article emphasizes the importance of progressively increasing training volume for significant hypertrophy and strength gains in arm muscles.
  • According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, while 75% of physiotherapists, 91% of manual handling advisors, and 88% of osteopaths recommend the squat technique as the safest way to lift, many athletes still use stoop and semi-squat techniques during training, highlighting the importance of proper form in exercises like the kettlebell goblet squat for arm and overall muscle development.
  • In my experience, kettlebells are an exceptional choice for arm workouts, offering a versatile range of exercises that effectively target multiple muscle groups for comprehensive arm development.

14 Kettlebell Exercises for Arms

Swinging kettlebell for arm exercises

Other fitness professionals and I carefully selected all exercises on the list to ensure the movements are beginner-friendly.

We also provided clear and easy-to-follow instructions under each exercise section. According to one of the studies from the National Center for Biotechnology Information website, this will enable you to learn the proper technique and avoid unnecessary injuries [1].

Below you can find the best 14 kettlebell exercises for arms.

"When it comes to training arms, there are numerous reasons why the kettlebell can be an ideal choice. Whether it comes down to the equipment you have access to, or if you are just trying to add something new, you really can’t go wrong with a kettlebell."
- Avi Silverberg, Certified Personal Trainer

1. Kettlebell Overhead Press

Kettlebell overhead press or kettlebell push press is a compound arm exercise following the vertical push movement pattern and activating muscles such as the triceps, pectoralis major, and anterior deltoid.

Based on my experience, it is excellent for building base levels of upper body strength and improving the efficiency of your stabilizer muscles.

How to Perform Kettlebell Overhead Press:

  1. Assume a standing position and pick two kettlebells of the appropriate weight.
  2. Keep the back flat during the whole movement, and avoid rotating your shoulders internally.
  3. Start the exercise by pushing the kettlebells over your head, abducting your shoulders, and extending your elbow joint.
  4. When kettlebells reach the top position, reverse the movement to return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for 6 reps, 4 sets, and rest for 2-3 minutes between each following set.

2. Kettlebell Bicep Curl

Doing bicep curl using kettlebell

The double or single-arm bicep curl is an excellent exercise for the kettlebell bicep workout which will activate biceps brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis.

How to Perform a Standing Kettlebell Bicep Curl:

  1. Assume a standing position and pick two kettlebells of the appropriate weight.
  2. Keep your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and back flat during the movement.
  3. Start the exercise by curling both kettlebells towards your shoulders without flexing at your shoulder joint to compensate for the movement.
  4. When the kettlebell reaches the top position, hold it for one second.
  5. Reverse the motion by slowly extending and lowering the elbow to return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for 10 reps, 4 sets, and rest 90 seconds between each set.

3. Kettlebell Tall Kneeling Press

Kettlebell tall kneeling press is another excellent kettlebell tricep workout exercise that follows the vertical push movement pattern and activates your triceps brachii, pectoralis major, and anterior deltoid.

How to Perform a Kettlebell Tall Kneeling Press:

  1. Assume a kneeling position and pick an appropriately sized kettlebell into each hand.
  2. Keep your back flat by activating abdominal muscles and glutes.
  3. Start the exercise by pushing kettlebells toward the ceiling and above your head.
  4. When your elbows are fully extended, slowly return the kettlebells to the starting position by bending your elbows and adducting the shoulders.
  5. Repeat for 3 sets, 8 reps, and rest 2-3 minutes between each set.

4. Kettlebell Half-Kneeling Press

Kettlebell half kneeling press

Kettlebell half-kneeling press is a variation of the previous kettlebell arm workout exercise that targets the same muscle groups but involves a different level of core activation.

How to Perform a Kettlebell Half-Kneeling Press:

  1. Assume a half-kneeling position with your right foot forward and take two kettlebells in each hand.
  2. Keep your back flat and avoid bringing your shoulders forward or excessively rotating them inwards during the movement.
  3. Start the exercise by performing a kettlebell overhead extension.
  4. When your forearm and upper arm are in line, and your elbow is fully extended, reverse the motion to return to the start.
  5. Repeat for 4 sets, 6 reps, and rest for up to 3 minutes between each set.

Related: Best Kettlebells for Home Gym

5. Kettlebell Goblet Squat

A kettlebell goblet squat is an excellent kettlebell arm workout exercise for developing isometric strength in your triceps and biceps muscles.

It belongs to both isometric kettlebell tricep exercises and kettlebell bicep exercises.

How to Perform a Kettlebell Goblet Squat:

  1. Assume a standing position wider than shoulder-width apart and place the quality adjustable kettlebell in the starting goblet position.
  2. Start the exercise by squatting down until your thigh reaches parallel to the ground.
  3. When your thighs parallel the ground, reverse the motion by extending your ankles, knees, and hips to return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for 4 sets, 12 reps, and rest for 90 seconds between the sets.

6. Kettlebell Regular Row

Doing regular row using kettlebell

Kettlebell regular row is one of the best kettlebell back exercises for developing strong bicep, rear deltoids, lats, and trapezius muscles.

How to Perform a Regular Kettlebell Row:

  1. Assume a standing position and pick two kettlebells of the appropriate weight.
  2. Bend your torso forward while keeping your back flat and knees slightly flexed.
  3. Your feet are shoulder width apart, elbows extended, while kettlebells hang from both hands.
  4. Start the exercise by rowing both kettlebells towards your hips to activate the bicep and lats.
  5. When the kettlebell reaches close to the level of the hip, reverse the motion to return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for 4 sets, 8 reps, and rest for 3 minutes between the sets.

7. Kettlebell Suitcase Row

A kettlebell suitcase row is an excellent kettlebell arm workout exercise for developing your biceps muscle.

How to Perform a Kettlebell Suitcase Row:

  1. Assume a standing position and pick two kettlebells of the appropriate weight.
  2. Bend your torso forward while keeping your back flat and knees slightly flexed.
  3. Your feet are shoulder width apart, elbows extended, while kettlebells hang from both hands.
  4. Start the exercise by rowing both kettlebells toward the middle of your stomach.
  5. This will activate your traps more instead of the lats, like in the previous exercise.
  6. Hold one second in the top position and reverse the motion to return to the starting position.
  7. Repeat for 4 sets, 8 reps, and rest for up to 3 minutes between each set.

8. Kettlebell Bottoms up Clean

Holding kettlebell upside down

In my experience, kettlebell bottoms up clean is a complex compound exercise that should be performed with a lighter kettlebell first.

How to Perform a Kettlebell Bottoms up Clean:

  1. Assume standing and place the kettlebell on the floor between your legs.
  2. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and take a pronated grip with your right hand while bending in your hips, knees, and ankles.
  3. Start the exercise by performing the clean movement to bring the kettlebell to the top position.
  4. When you reach the top position of the clean kettlebell exercise, put the kettlebell on the floor and repeat the whole process.
  5. Repeat for 6 reps, 4 sets, and rest as much as you like between the sets so you can perform all 6 reps with maximal intensity.

9. Kettlebell Plank Row or Renegade Row

Kettlebell plank row or renegade row is a complex exercise performed in the push-up or plank position.

How to Perform a Kettlebell Plank Row or Renegade Row:

  1. Assume a plank position on two kettlebells of the appropriate weight.
  2. Keep your back flat by activating abdominal muscles and glutes, and avoid sagging your butt throughout the exercise.
  3. Start the exercise by rowing your right kettlebell toward your stomach while slightly shifting your torso for better balance and keeping your left kettlebell on the floor.
  4. When the kettlebell reaches the top position, reverse the motion to return to the starting position and repeat the same with the left arm.
  5. Repeat for 12 reps, 4 sets, and rest as little as possible between the sets.

10. Kettlebell Clean

Doing kettlebell clean

Kettlebell cleans are similar to kettlebell bottoms-up cleans, but you never drop the kettlebell on the floor and continue to perform the clean motion perpetually.

How to Perform the Kettlebell Clean:

  1. Assume a standing position slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and place the kettlebell between your feet.
  2. Slightly bend your ankles, hips, and knees to take a pronated grip on the kettlebell.
  3. Start the exercise by performing the clean kettlebell motion until the kettlebell reaches the top position.
  4. Reverse the motion to return the kettlebell to the hanging position without bringing it to the floor and repeat the whole process.
  5. Repeat for 4 sets of 8 reps, and rest for 3-5 minutes between the sets.

11. Kettlebell Clean & Press

Kettlebell clean and the press is a complex compound exercise targeting all body muscles, including triceps and biceps brachii.

How to Perform a Kettlebell Clean and Press:

  1. Assume a standing position slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and place the kettlebell between your feet.
  2. Slightly bend your ankles, hips, and knees to take a pronated grip on the kettlebell.
  3. Start the exercise by performing the clean kettlebell motion until the kettlebell reaches the top position.
  4. Continue by pushing the kettlebell upwards in the overhead position and stop when the elbows are fully extended.
  5. Return the kettlebell to the starting position and repeat the whole process.
  6. Perform 6 reps, 4 sets, and rest 3 minutes between the sets.

12. Kettlebell Squat and Press

Doing kettlebell squat and press

Kettlebell squat and press combine regular squats with overhead pressing motion and activates your triceps muscles on the way up.

How to Perform a Kettlebell Squat and Press:

  1. Assume a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold kettlebells in the top clean position.
  2. Start the exercise by squatting down while holding the kettlebell in a clean position.
  3. When your thighs parallel the floor, reverse the motion to return to the standing position.
  4. Press both kettlebells over your head until your elbows are fully extended.
  5. Bring the kettlebell to the starting position and repeat the whole process.
  6. Perform 8 reps, 3 sets, and rest for 2 minutes between the sets.

13. Kettlebell Lunge and Press

Kettlebell lunge and press is another hybrid exercise that will effectively target all major muscles of your body, including your biceps brachii.

How to Perform Kettlebell Lunge and Presses:

  1. Assume a standing position and hold kettlebells in each hand.
  2. Start the exercise by lunging forward with your right leg and pressing the kettlebells simultaneously above the head.
  3. Bring the kettlebell down in the starting position and lunge forward with your left leg.
  4. Repeat the same process.
  5. Perform 10 steps with both legs, 3 sets, and rest for 3 minutes between the sets.

14. Kettlebell Sit & Press

Doing kettlebell sit and press

Kettlebell sits, and the press is the last hybrid exercise on our list. In my experience, it will effectively target all three heads of your triceps.

How to Perform a Kettlebell Sit and Press:

  1. Assume a sitting position with your knees fully extended and back flat, and hold kettlebells in each hand.
  2. Start the exercise by abducting your shoulders and extending your elbows to bring the kettlebells into the overhead press position.
  3. Stop when your elbows are fully extended.
  4. Reverse the motion by adducting your shoulders and flexing your elbows to return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for 8 reps, 4 sets, and rest for 2 minutes between each set.

How Do I Tone My Arms With Kettlebells?

Holding kettlebell with two hands

To tone your arms with kettlebells, you must implement proper tricep and bicep kettlebell workout exercises that will target all major muscles of your upper arm.

These exercises must hit additional muscles, such as the brachialis and brachioradialis.

However, you must also implement the principle of progressive overload. According to another study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information website, this means increasing the volume for every following workout session to avoid a plateau [2].

This is scientifically proven to be the best for hypertrophy training and will support muscle growth, recovery, and strength gains the most [3].

Additionally, you will need to be aware of the potential overtraining issues if you fail to use proper programming, such as short rest periods, too much weight, or similar [4].

Ultimately, the most important thing is to stay consistent and aim for at least one or two arm workouts per week to avoid losing your muscles.

"The kettlebell can be considered more advanced than your traditional dumbbell, but that depends on how you intend to use it. When you think of “training arms,” the main goal is to target both the biceps and the triceps."
- Jace Fuchs, Certified Personal Trainer

FAQs

Is Kettlebell Enough to Build Muscle?

Yes, kettlebells are enough to build muscle. However, you may use machines occasionally to isolate certain movements and muscles for greater hypertrophy effects.

Is Kettlebell Good for Triceps?

Yes, kettlebells are good for the triceps. You can perform kettlebell overhead extensions, close grip bench presses, and more to develop medial, lateral, and long tricep heads.

Do Kettlebells Burn Arm Fat?

No, kettlebells don’t burn arm fat. There is no such thing as burning fat locally, and no exercise can specifically target fat stores in certain muscles and body parts.

How Can I Prevent Injuries While Doing Kettlebell Arm Workouts?

To prevent injuries during kettlebell arm workouts, always start with a proper warm-up and focus on maintaining correct form throughout each exercise. It's also important to choose a kettlebell weight that matches your current fitness level to avoid strain.

What Are the Best Kettlebell Arm Workouts for Different Fitness Goals?

For strength, focus on low-rep, high-weight kettlebell exercises; for endurance, opt for higher reps with moderate weight; and for toning, combine moderate weight with a higher volume of reps. Tailoring your workout to your specific goal is key to achieving the desired results.

How Should Beginners Approach Kettlebell Arm Workouts?

Beginners should start with lighter kettlebells and focus on mastering the form of basic exercises before progressing to more complex movements or heavier weights. Gradual progression and consistency are essential for building strength and skill safely.

Can Kettlebell Arm Workouts Be Integrated with Other Fitness Routines?

Absolutely. Kettlebell arm workouts can be effectively combined with cardio routines for enhanced fat burning or with yoga and Pilates for improved flexibility and core strength, offering a well-rounded fitness regimen.

What Nutritional Advice Should I Follow to Maximize Results from Kettlebell Arm Workouts?

To maximize results from kettlebell arm workouts, focus on a balanced diet rich in protein for muscle repair and growth and include carbohydrates and healthy fats for energy. Staying hydrated and avoiding processed foods can also significantly enhance workout benefits.

What Supplement Should I Use to Tone My Arms?

The best supplement to use and tone your arms is a protein powder.

Protein powder will ensure fast recovery after each intense kettlebell training and ensure your experience the biggest hypertrophy effects.

We created an excellent and easy-to-follow guide to help you select the best protein powder according to your specific needs and preferences:

Let me know which kettlebell workout exercise is your favorite and why.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8720246/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4215195/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6950543/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15571428/
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