Kettlebell Training for Bodybuilders — Tips, Tricks, and the Best Exercises for Muscle Growth | BarBend

Bodybuilders have many instruments of their toolbox. If you’re attempting to construct the physique of your goals, there’s no purpose to restrict your self to at least one piece of kit, one particular machine, or one fashion of coaching. That type of rigidity is reserved for powerlifters, Olympic lifters, and different energy athletes.

You could not consider the kettlebell because the de-facto muscle-building implement, however make no mistake — with a little bit of creativity and the fitting working information, kettlebells may also help you develop extra muscle than you may assume. 

After all, in the event you stroll into the burden room and see the dumbbell rack stripped naked by grasping gymgoers, what are you going to do? Go house? No means. Here’s how you should use kettlebells to bulk up within the gymnasium. 

Kettlebell Training for Bodybuilders

Why You Should Try Kettlebells for Bodybuilding

Bodybuilding is all about experimentation. In a means, you’re one thing of a mad scientist. Every exercise is an experiment to seek out the precise proper instruments and ways for burning your muscle groups to a crisp.

You could not consider kettlebells as a sensible choice for constructing your physique, however do not forget that bodybuilding isn’t a energy sport. You’ve no purpose to limit your self to the barbell. In truth, kettlebells can go toe-to-toe with most typical tools in your gymnasium. 

Kettlebells vs. Barbells

If your bodybuilding exercises include lots of barbell work, you may discover it exhausting to duplicate your session with kettlebells as a substitute. 

The barbell brings with it unparalleled loading potential — you’ll be able to slap on a (almost) infinite variety of plates to make your deadlifts, rows, or presses as heavy as you’d like. The weight of a kettlebell is fastened, and you’ll’t carry heavier than the bells your gymnasium offers.

However, the design of the kettlebell does make it a bit extra pleasant in your wrist, elbow, or shoulder joints than the barbell. If commonplace barbell urgent causes discomfort, kettlebells might be an acceptable different. 

Kettlebells vs. Dumbbells

Kettlebells and dumbbells are shut cousins. Both instruments are single-handed, that means you’ll be able to carry out nearly any dumbbell train beneath the solar with kettlebells and get the identical return in your funding.

The downside lies in availability. Most commonplace gyms may have a well-furnished dumbbell rack with weights that go up fairly excessive, however they received’t typically carry kettlebells of comparable resistance. 

Credit: SOK Studio / Shutterstock

Kettlebells do edge out dumbbells with regards to dynamic and ballistic motion, although, because the deal with can rotate freely in your palm on workout routines just like the swing. 

Kettlebells vs. Machines/Cables

The very nature of machine work separates it from the “feel” of lifting a free weight, be it a dumbbell, barbell, kettlebell, or in any other case. 

The fastened path of an train machine or the start-to-finish tensile consistency of cable timber makes them incomparable to kettlebell workout routines, particularly for bodybuilding.

You can carry out sure workout routines with a kettlebell or a cable attachment, positive, however you’ll expertise every in vastly other ways. In most circumstances, the machines will find yourself being extra helpful for rising muscle just because they serve a unique function. 

Benefits of Kettlebells for Bodybuilding

They might not be your weapon of selection for constructing monstrous biceps or large lats, however kettlebells do include some unique and noteworthy perks for the physique athlete.

They’re Everywhere

Kettlebells are all the fashion. From CrossFit garages to business services, almost each public or field gymnasium may have a litany of various kettlebells out there.

This makes them a dependable fallback choice in the event you, for no matter purpose, can’t work along with your normal implement of selection. If the gymnasium is packed and the dumbbell rack has been stripped naked, you’ll be able to substitute kettlebells into your exercise for most workout routines and nonetheless get a great coaching session out of it. 


Trying one thing new can breathe life into your exercises and even make it easier to develop extra muscle. While you’ll be able to’t actually “confuse” your muscle groups into hypertrophy, swapping out your dumbbell rows for a kettlebell as a substitute may be simply sufficient of a change to elicit an adaptation. 

Further, you may end up extra mentally alert and engaged along with your exercises in the event you determine to work with a brand new type of resistance. This elevated attentiveness may lead to higher-quality repetitions and higher method. 

More Grip Stimulation

Kettlebells are exhausting to grip, particularly if you’re shifting them quick. Their design lets you convey a dynamic or ballistic side to your bodybuilding exercises. 

While these qualities aren’t straight related to muscle acquire, holding onto a kettlebell for a set of heavy swings is a heck of a forearm exercise.

Unique Load Profile

When you maintain a kettlebell, the precise weighty bit sits behind your level of contact, not adjoining to it. An adjustment to the place the load itself is resting relative to your hand can influence how an train feels in your physique.

For instance, if you carry out a chest press with a kettlebell, the burden is definitely making an effort to tug your palm open. With a dumbbell or barbell, the entire resistance is urgent straight downward onto your wrist. That sort of compression could also be uncomfortable and distract out of your mind-muscle connection.

Drawbacks of Kettlebells for Bodybuilding

Despite all they’ve going for them, kettlebells are definitely not the endgame of physique improvement. They may be extremely helpful in the fitting contexts, however aren’t proper for everybody — or each scenario. 

Inconsistent Tension

One of the principle promoting factors of kettlebells is their freedom of motion — they don’t keep firmly fastened in your hand. This makes them nice for coaching qualities like muscular energy or stability, however poor instruments for taking a muscle to the brink of exhaustion.

man performs kettlebell deadlift
Credit: Dusan Petkovic / Shutterstock

Any time the bell rotates or strikes throughout an train, it would alter the quantity of mechanical stress on the muscle you’re working. A regular curl carried out with a kettlebell can really feel inconsistent and janky, for instance. 

Limited Loading Options

Kettlebells lack the fine-tuned loading potential of the barbell. Moreover, many trendy dumbbell units are available in increments of 5 and even two and a half kilos, permitting you to pick simply the correct amount of load to your muscle groups.

If you’ve solely obtained entry to kettlebells in 10-pound increments, you may be caught selecting between a weight that’s somewhat too heavy or somewhat too gentle to your wants. 

High Stability Demand

The unstable nature of kettlebell coaching makes it extremely alluring to purposeful health fanatics, energy athletes, and even the aged. Conversely, coaching in a low-stability setting generally is a poison tablet for the devoted bodybuilder.

Any issue that impacts how a lot tensile power you’ll be able to apply to a muscle is a deterrent for hypertrophy. This can vary from engaged on one leg and having to steadiness your self to a weight dangling or swinging in your arms whilst you’re attempting to focus. 

Not all kettlebell workout routines are inherently unstable, however many will demand your consideration and focus simply to carry out the motion within the first place. 

Not Suitable for Every Exercise

You can normally substitute kettlebells to your dumbbell or barbell train of selection in a pinch. After all, a row is a row and a press is a press. However, sure mainline bodybuilding workout routines are merely incompatible with kettlebells.

A kettlebell merely won’t sit neatly into the crease of your hip the way in which a barbell does throughout hip thrusts. There’s additionally no wise method to carry out a glute kickback with a kettlebell looped round your foot. In these situations, you’ll have to chop your losses. 

Best Kettlebell Exercises for Bodybuilding

Kettlebells could not essentially be the ultimate implement of selection for any bodybuilding motion, however there are particular workout routines that pair properly with kettlebells and should present some distinctive advantages. 

Kettlebell Lateral Raise

The lateral increase is without doubt one of the only a few important workout routines for bodybuilding. No different motor sample correctly stimulates the perimeters of your shoulders, and you’ll hit your delts a bit in a different way in the event you swap in a kettlebell to your normal dumbbell or cable attachment.

Further, your grip and forearms must work even tougher to carry the burden, because the bulk of the resistance is straight beneath your hand as you increase your arm. 

Kettlebell Swing

The swing is, debatably, among the finest total actions you’ll be able to carry out to your decrease physique. Not solely does it successfully stimulate your lats, decrease again, glutes, and hamstrings, however the nature of the motion itself is a good trainer for studying the hip hinge.

Swings have a spot in your bodybuilding exercises as a warm-up or finisher on leg day, or may be an effective way to get some lively restoration within the day after a decrease physique exercise. 

Kettlebell Push-Up

Push-ups, significantly if you slap on some additional weight, are an outstanding pec-builder. However, they do place an inordinate quantity of stress in your wrists. If you’re seeking to keep away from that strain and nonetheless blast your chest, you’ll be able to place a pair of kettlebells on the ground and grip them as a substitute. 

The impartial wrist place ought to alleviate almost all potential discomfort, permitting you to give attention to contracting your pecs correctly. 

Kettlebell Farmer’s Carry

Even bodybuilders want a wholesome dose of conditioning work. Whether you’re weight-reduction plan down for a present or simply need to look proper come seashore season, workout routines just like the farmer’s carry are an effective way to interrupt a sweat and stimulate your higher physique as properly.

Kettlebells are available in significantly clutch right here. They’re typically simpler to hold than dumbbells, you’ll be able to normally discover them within the cross-training house in your gymnasium (which has extra open house to stroll), and so they completely torch your forearms and traps. 

Kettlebell Hammer Curl

The hammer curl is second-to-none if you need to thicken your biceps and construct beefy forearms as well. You can double down on these targets by holding a kettlebell aloft as a substitute, with the bell itself pointing outward. 

You’ll discover that even a really gentle kettlebell turns into extraordinarily tough to grip and curl with, letting you blast your arms with out having to hunt heavy dumbbells to take action. 

Kettlebell Skull Crusher

Many of the most effective triceps workout routines on the market may be gnarly in your wrists and elbows. If you’re nursing an damage in these areas however nonetheless need to practice your tris, you’ll be able to swap in a kettlebell or two in your cranium crushers. 

Holding the burden by the deal with (or greedy the meat of the bell itself) can take some undesirable stress off your joints and allow you to give attention to constructing that triceps horseshoe you need. 

Sample Kettlebell-Only Bodybuilding Workout

You could by no means end up in such a place, however within the occasion a gymnasium goblin has hoarded all of the dumbbells (or there’s a famine of barbells throughout the globe), you’ll be able to devise an acceptable hypertrophy-focused exercise utilizing solely kettlebells.

The Workout

This pattern exercise is supposed to show how one can make intelligent substitutions and deftly arrange your workout routines to make sure that kettlebells make it easier to construct muscle.

  • (1A) Single-Arm Kettlebell Floor Press: 3 x 8 per aspect
  • (1B) Kettlebell Skull Crusher: 3 x 15
  • (2A) Kettlebell Lateral Raise: 3 x 15
  • (2B) Kettlebell Hammer Curl: 3 x 8
  • Offset Kettlebell Overhead Carry: 4 x 40 seconds per aspect

Note: Perform the “A” and “B” workout routines collectively as a superset with restricted relaxation between every train. 

Kettle-Build Your Best Physique

Don’t get it twisted — kettlebells in all probability aren’t your only option for gaining muscle mass long-term. However, in the event you’re in a pinch, in a rush, or just in want of a great pump, there’s no purpose to disregard their utility.

Kettlebells add novelty to your exercises, problem your grip and forearms in a means you’re in all probability not accustomed to, and can jack your coronary heart charge up like no different. Use them to get a deal with in your conditioning, flip the script on a uninteresting collection of coaching periods, or just shock your muscle groups into new progress. 

Featured Image: Dusan Petkovic / Shutterstock

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