Dumbbell exercises seem to be the go-to workout that athletes and bodybuilders use for chest exercises.
But as a certified personal trainer, I can tell you that a targeted kettlebell chest workout is an ideal way to achieve a toned physique with a lot more variety.
The best thing is that you don’t need more than a few kettlebells, allowing you to do the workouts at home or at the gym.
So, I decided to get the help of five other personal trainers, and we tested out different kettlebell chest exercises with eight clients for effectiveness.
- Introducing kettlebell chest exercises like the alternating floor press, push-ups, and front raises can be a highly effective way to add more training variety to your routine.
- Introducing these best kettlebell chest exercises will require little more than a few kettlebells and a yoga mat in order to do them at home.
- As these workouts will target your chest muscles in a slightly different way, you should also consider your nutrient intake to boost recovery times.
Our Recommended Kettlebell Chest Exercises
Here is our list of the best kettlebell chest exercises that we identified through many days of testing them out with clients of different skill and strength levels.
1. Kettlebell Floor Press
For this first kettlebell chest exercise, you want to set up your favorite exercise mat with different-weight kettlebells within easy reach.
Here’s what you do:
- Get into the starting position by lying down on the exercise mat.
- Grab hold of a kettlebell with an underhand grip, with the bell on your forearm, and rest your elbow on the ground.
- Do the same with the other hand so that you have both arms in the ready position.
- From a right angle with your elbows, slowly push up the weights until your arms are fully extended.
- Lower them back down to the starting point to complete one rep of the floor press.
2. Floor Chest Flys
The next stage of your kettlebell training will involve a movement that is equivalent to what you would do on a chest fly machine.
Here’s how to do these kettlebell exercises:
- Get into the same position as for the above floor press with a kettlebell for each hand in easy reach.
- You end up with your shoulder blades pulled together tightly, and from here, you bring your hands back up with straight elbows.
3. Kettlebell Pullover
Next on our list of the best kettlebell chest exercises is the pullover movement that you might be used to doing with dumbbells. It’s an excellent workout routine for the upper pecs .
These are the steps for kettlebell pullover:
- Lay down on the yoga mat, similar to the floor press, with a kettlebell placed behind your head within easy reach.
- Grab hold of the handle with both hands and make sure you keep your elbows straight.
- Lift the kettlebell straight up until it’s above your head.
- Then slowly lower it down again, and ideally, don’t let it touch the ground.
- Repeat the movement for your ideal rep range.
“The pectoral muscles, which people often refer to as the pecs, define the shape and appearance of the chest. They also control several arm movements, including flexing and rotating the arm and bringing it in toward the body’s midline (adduction).”
- Daniel Bubnis, M.S., NASM-CPT
4. Alternating Chest Press
This is one of the kettlebell exercises that is a slight variation of the bench press.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Set yourself up for the standard floor press by lying down on a mat with a kettlebell on each side of your shoulders.
- Grab hold of each kettlebell with an underhand grip and raise them off the ground so that your elbows are at a 90-degree angle.
- Now, push one hand up at a time, and while you’re lowering one, the other one should push up at the same time.
- It’s like a seesaw effect that isolates each side of your chest with more targeted strain.
Learn More: Best Lower Chest Exercises
5. Kettlebell Push-Ups
For the next one of my favorite kettlebell exercises, you need two kettlebells of the same size, and you want to place them a bit more than shoulder-width apart.
Here is how to do kettlebell push-ups:
- Get into the push-up position with your hands close to the kettlebells.
- Place one hand on the handle at a time and adjust the angle until it feels comfortable.
- Slowly lower your upper body down as far as you can, and then push yourself back up again.
- The added range of motion will prove highly effective for your pecs .
6. Decline Chest Press
Here is another floor press variation that will help you target the lower pecs with a familiar and effective movement.
Here’s what you do:
- Get into the starting position with a kettlebell on each side of your body and your feet flat on the ground.
- Grab hold of each handle with an underhand grip and lift the weight off the ground.
- Lift your pelvis off the ground and get into a glute bridge position.
- Now perform the same movement as the floor press, where you slowly push the kettlebells up.
- If you’ve ever done a decline bench press, this movement should feel very familiar on your lower pecs .
7. Decline Chest Flys
Here is another great variation for kettlebell training that makes the regular chest fly a bit more difficult.
Get this setup for your kettlebell workouts:
- Your initial setup is the same as for the kettlebell chest fly above, i.e., lay down flat with a kettlebell on each side of your shoulders.
- Grab hold of each with an underhand grip and push the weights up straight above your shoulders.
- Now lift your pelvis off the ground to form a glute bridge.
- Slowly lower the kettlebells down each side with your arms only slightly bent until you feel your shoulder blades pushed together.
- Pull your hands back up again to complete one rep.
8. Crush Grip Push-Up
This is one of the fun kettlebell chest exercises that will also help you target your triceps .
Get ready for a bit of balance required:
- Place a kettlebell on its side on a yoga mat.
- Get into a high plank position with the kettlebell right below your chest.
- Place one hand on the kettlebell at a time, forming a crush grip with your palms facing each other.
- Bring your chest down as low as possible, and then push yourself back up again.
- Repeat the movement for maximum reps.
9. Standing Press Out
Now let me introduce you to one of the best kettlebell chest exercises from a standing position.
The movement is similar to an incline kettlebell chest press:
- Stand straight with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
- Hold a kettlebell with a crush grip, meaning one hand on each side with palms facing each other.
- Start with the kettlebell close to your chest and then slowly push it away from your chest and upward.
- Hold the top position for two seconds, then bring the kettlebell back to your chest.
- You should feel more strain in your upper pecs, which will help to better tone your chest.
10. Front Raises
This will feel like part of a kettlebell swing and is great for achieving huge muscle activation in your shoulders.
Here’s what to do:
- Get into the starting position by standing straight.
- Hold the kettlebell in a copious grip with your hand between the handle and the bell and palm on the top of the bell part.
- Hold the kettlebell in front of you with your palm facing upward and your elbow straight.
- Slowly raise the kettlebell upward until it reaches head height.
- Hold that position for a second, then lower it back down to complete one rep.
11. Offset Push-Ups
This is another one of the most effective chest workouts, and you’ll just need a single kettlebell for this.
Here’s what to do:
- Get into a high plank position with a kettlebell close to your left hand.
- Place your left hand on top of the bell and your right hand on the ground.
- Your body will be offset, and this will vary the strain on your chest muscles between both sides.
- Lower your body down as far as possible and then push it back up to complete one rep.
12. Crush Grip Floor Press
It’s one of the best kettlebell chest exercises to also improve your grip strength:
- Lay down on a yoga mat and hold a kettlebell in both hands.
- Each hand should be on the side of the bell, palms facing each other.
- Apply as much pressure as you can, and then slowly push the weight up.
- Then lower it back down to your chest and repeat the movement for your target rep range.
Choosing The Right Weight
Before you start trying out the best kettlebell chest exercises above, take a moment to consider what kind of weight load you should choose.
If you’re new to the movements, then try a couple of sets with a lighter weight first.
Also, keep in mind that the way you hold the kettlebell can be very different from the way you hold a dumbbell.
For example, for a kettlebell chest press, the bell will rest against your forearm, so you might not want to pick the same load as you normally use for dumbbell chest presses.
Getting The Reps Right
And before you start your first sets of the best kettlebell chest exercises, consider what your goals are.
Here is some advice I give my clients as a personal trainer.
If you want to achieve muscular endurance and stamina, then your rep range should ideally be 12 to 18 reps per set, and that means choosing a lower weight.
But if you want to achieve more toning and mass in your chest muscles, then aim for 6 to 10 reps and ensure that those last couple are a real struggle.
“Lifting should be done at a seven-second tempo. That means three seconds to lift the weight, a one-second pause, and three seconds to lower it. You also want to use enough weight, so the last few reps are a challenge.”
- Matthew Solan, Executive Editor at Harvard Men's Health Watch
What Kettlebell Exercise Works the Chest Muscles?
Kettlebell exercises like the decline floor press, seesaw floor press, and kettlebell pushups work the chest muscles. They are a great way to challenge the upper body and core muscles to achieve a greater physique.
Can You Build Chest Muscles With Kettlebells?
Yes, you can build chest muscles with kettlebells. Using effective kettlebell chest exercises will allow you to isolate your pecs in order to bulk up more, and all you need is a single kettlebell to get started.
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