Lifting wisdom previously equated fitness and strength with moving large amounts of weight in the gym. Increasing weight was thought to contribute to greater muscle mass and a rock solid physique. Our mission with the following workout is to prove that lighter weights, specifically lighter kettlebell weights, are more effective at burning calories and building lean muscle mass than traditional dumbbell-based routines. Kettlebells blend functionality and aesthetic results while still naturally decreasing the risk of injury. There is a built-in versatility and weight allocation in kettlebell routines that improve mobility and develop joints that aren’t normally targeted. For example, the overhead movements included below have an added bonus of developing strength in the shoulder cradle, a joint routinely overlooked in weightlifting and one of the most commonly injured and strained portions of the body.
This workout targets the biceps, triceps, chest, core, and shoulders. You can increase the impact of these movements by incorporating more resistance. For example, consider holding your apex position for a greater amount of time than we recommend or add a cardio component like performing burpees or kettlebell swings between sets. We’ll outline further accommodations at the close of this piece, and we encourage you to thoroughly stretch at the conclusion of this series to loosen any residual tightness.
This workout requires two kettlebells of lighter weight. We recommend women use two 4-6 kg (9-13 lbs.) kettlebells and men use two 8-10 kg (18-22 lbs.) kettlebells. There are five exercises in this workout. Perform three straight sets of 10-12 reps per exercise using 30-45 seconds of rest between sets. Begin this workout with a five to ten minute warm-up on a stationary bike or by walking at a clipped pace on a highly inclined treadmill.
Incline Kettlebell Curl
- You’ll need a bench inclined at 45 degrees for this exercise. Sit with your back flat to the bench and a kettlebell in each hand, held at the middle of the handle.
- Start with your arms extended and maintain control as you curl the kettlebells upward.
- Once you reach the apex of your curl, hold for one to two seconds.
- Maintain control as you extend your arms back to starting position without locking out your elbows. This is one rep. Perform 10-12 reps to complete one set.
Decline Kettlebell Skull Crusher
- Begin by lying on a bench that has around a 20-degree decline or something similar.
- Extend your arms directly above you and hold a kettlebell in each hand by the middle of its handle. Each kettlebell should be resting against the outside of each forearm.
- Maintain control as you bend your forearms backward to a 45-degree angle. The kettlebells should be an inch or two above your forehead.
- Push the kettlebells back to starting position without locking out your elbows. This is one rep. Perform 10-12 reps for one set.
- Stand holding a kettlebell by the horns of the handle in both hands with your arms straight.
- Raise the kettlebell up to your upper chest, bending at the elbows.
- Hold briefly at the top then lower back to the starting position at the same pace. Ensure the arms straighten out completely to get full range of motion.
Double Floor Press
- Lay on the ground holding a kettlebell in each hand by its horn. Your elbows should be close to your body at 45-degree angles.
- Keep your back flat to the ground as you thrust each kettlebell up and overhead in a straight line. Extend your arms but do not lock out your elbows.
- Hold for two to three seconds at the height of your movement.
- Return to starting position by pivoting the kettlebells to rest against the outside of your forearms. This is one rep. Perform 10-12 reps to complete one set.
Kettlebell Chest Fly
- Lie on a flat bench with a light kettlebell resting on the ground on either side of your body.
- Grasp the kettlebells by their horns. Hold them together above your chest. Allow them to rest against the outsides of your forearms with your palms facing inward.
- Maintain control and keep your back tight as you extend your arms out to either side. Do not allow your arms to pass below your shoulders or fully extend to lock out your elbows.
- Once your arms create a flat line with your shoulders, hold for one to two seconds. Breathe out as you return to starting position with the kettlebells above your chest.
- This is one rep. Perform 10-12 reps for one set.
- Stand holding a kettlebell by the horns of the handle in both hands behind your head with your elbows bent.
- Raise the kettlebell overhead, keeping the elbows tight and extending them fully.
- Lower the kettlebell back down to the start position, taking care to avoid contact with the back of your head.
You can easily increase the difficulty of this routine if you find that it’s not challenging enough. We recommend increasing the weights of the kettlebells used by 2.5 pounds initially and scaling in this manner. If you prefer to keep the weight we recommend, try walking for longer distances when performing the waiter’s walk or performing squats while engaging in the overhead hold. You can also hold the kettlebell at the apex of your movements for longer periods of time to ensure fatigue of your muscles.
About Amanda Perkins:
Amanda works with Kettlebell Kings as a senior writer. She has been put on this earth to inspire people and inspire them to achieve their health and fitness goals with enthusiasm. Her niches are health, fitness, and kettlebell workout. Amanda with Kettlebell Kings is focused on providing fitness routines, professional tips, and kettlebell equipment to all fitness enthusiasts. She likes to travel in her free-time and is a foodie with refined interest in healthy food.