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7 Kettlebell Moves to Explode Your Upper Body Strength and Muscle Mass

Time to pick up that kettlebell in the gym.

Check out these 7 kettlebell moves to explode your upper body strength and muscle mass.

Kettlebells are sadly usually forgotten when it comes to training compared to the more traditional dumbbell or the favourite bodybuilder barbell. However, due to its unique shape and weight displacement, kettlebells can train your body in ways you simply wouldn’t be able with other fitness equipment.

The following are Marcus Filly’s 7 kettlebell moves that will increase your upper body strength and make you feel like a superhuman.

Marcus Filly is the creator, founder, and CEO of Functional Bodybuilding. He is a six-time CrossFit Games athlete (2016, 12th fittest) with decades of experience coaching and designing individual and group training programs.

See it all below.

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7 Kettlebell Moves to Explode Your Upper Body Strength and Muscle Mass

Marcus Filly invites you to explore his 7 favourite kettlebell moves designed to enhance the upper body through functional bodybuilding. The versatility of the kettlebell, a minimalist yet powerful training tool, allows for a myriad of exercises by simply adjusting the grip, lower body position, or repetition cadence.

In this comprehensive guide, Marcus unveils each unique exercise, highlighting their effectiveness in targeting various muscle groups within the upper body.

1. Crush Grip 90/90 Floor Press: Marcus begins with the crush grip 90/90 floor press, a move that demands core and upper body stability. Placing hands and knees at a 90-degree angle intensifies the contraction, mimicking the effects of a dumbbell or cable fly. The substantial range of motion engages both the triceps and chest, providing a comprehensive stimulus.

2. Dual Grip Kettlebell Push-Up: Next, Marcus introduces the dual grip kettlebell push-up, incorporating hammer and narrow grips. This variation adds significant attention to the arms, particularly emphasizing triceps engagement. The distinction between the two hand positions, hammer grip and side by side, influences elbow positioning, creating a dynamic workout.

3. Horn Grip Curl: Moving on to the horn grip curl, Marcus explains its similarity to a rope cable curl. This position offers strength advantages for the upper arms, enabling the use of heavier kettlebells and deeper repetition counts. The horn grip emphasizes forearm and bicep activation, delivering a potent stimulus.

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4. Tall Kneeling Hammer Grip Kettlebell Curl: Marcus introduces the tall kneeling hammer grip kettlebell curl, a subtle variation that alters the bicep stimulus. Flipping the kettlebell upside down and assuming a kneeling position increases stability demands on the hips and trunk. The hammer grip, with the bell pointed upwards, creates a distinct tension on the biceps and forearms.

5. Half-Kneeling Kettlebell Curl Eccentric: The half-kneeling kettlebell curl eccentric focuses on negative movements to conclude bicep training. Marcus emphasizes the controlled slow eccentric as a powerful overload technique, especially effective for biceps. The half-kneeling position provides stability, allowing for a concentrated workout.

6. Upright Row to Strict Press: Transitioning to the upright row to strict press, Marcus introduces a unilateral exercise with rotational elements. Navigating the kettlebell around the forearm into a pressing position engages the shoulder extensively. The long range of motion, varied force angles, and time under tension contribute to a comprehensive shoulder workout.

7. Tall Kneeling Hammer Grip Tricep Overhead Extension: The final exercise, the tall kneeling hammer grip tricep overhead extension, targets the triceps with an overhead reach. The unique position of the kettlebell enhances core and trunk engagement. Proper grip and bell positioning ensure constant tension on the triceps throughout the lift, offering an effective tricep workout.

Kettlebell SquatsSource: Unsplash

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In conclusion, Marcus encourages viewers to incorporate these movements into their training routine. He instructs for a 20 to 25-minute upper-body finisher:

SuperSet #1 – 3 Sets of each back and forth

  • Crush Grip 90/90 Floor Press – 10-12reps
  • Dual Grip KB Push Up (Hammer + Narrow Grip) – 6reps/grip

SuperSet #2 – 2 Sets of each back and forth

  • Horn Grip Curls – 10-12reps
  • Tall Kneeling Hammer Grip KB Curl – 8-10reps
  • Half Kneeling KB Curl Eccentric – 6/arm

SuperSet #3 – 3 Sets of each back and forth

  • Upright Row to Strict Press – 8/arm
  • Tall Kneeling Hammer Grip Tricep Overhead Extension – 10-12reps

If you want to know exactly how to perform the exercises correctly, watch the video below from Filly himself.

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Kettlebells have earned their reputation as a remarkable tool for building muscle and transforming the body due to their unique design, versatility, and ability to engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously. These compact, cannonball-shaped weights with a handle offer a range of benefits that make them stand out in the world of strength training.

1. Functional Movement Patterns: Kettlebell exercises often involve dynamic, functional movement patterns that mimic real-life activities. Unlike traditional weightlifting which may isolate specific muscle groups, kettlebell movements integrate various muscles, enhancing overall functional strength. Functional training not only builds muscle but also improves coordination, balance, and mobility, contributing to a more well-rounded physique.

2. Total Body Engagement: One of the key advantages of kettlebells is their ability to engage the entire body in a single exercise. Many kettlebell movements, such as swings and Turkish get-ups, require coordination and strength from multiple muscle groups, including the core, hips, shoulders, and legs. This holistic approach to training ensures that no muscle is neglected, promoting balanced muscle development.

3. Cardiovascular Endurance: Kettlebell workouts often incorporate cardiovascular elements, especially with high-intensity exercises like kettlebell swings. This dual-purpose nature of kettlebell training not only builds muscle but also improves cardiovascular endurance. The combination of strength and cardio in a single workout can contribute to efficient fat loss and overall body recomposition.

4. Explosive Power Development: The dynamic nature of many kettlebell exercises, such as the kettlebell swing, demands explosive power. This type of training stimulates the fast-twitch muscle fibres, promoting muscle growth and enhancing athletic performance. The explosive nature of kettlebell exercises can also contribute to increased calorie burn, making it an efficient tool for those looking to build muscle while maintaining a lean physique.

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5. Versatility in Training: Kettlebells offer unparalleled versatility in training. With just one kettlebell, a wide variety of exercises can be performed by adjusting grips, stances, and movement patterns. This versatility allows for a full-body workout without the need for an extensive array of equipment, making kettlebells a practical choice for home workouts or limited gym spaces.

6. Increased Joint Stability and Mobility: Kettlebell exercises often involve movements that challenge joint stability and mobility. Swings, Turkish get-ups, and lunges, for example, require controlled movements through a full range of motion. This not only builds muscle but also enhances joint health, reducing the risk of injuries and contributing to overall longevity in physical fitness.

7. Time-Efficient Workouts: Kettlebell training is known for its efficiency. Due to the dynamic, compound nature of many kettlebell exercises, workouts can be intense and effective in a relatively short amount of time. This is particularly advantageous for individuals with busy schedules, as kettlebell training allows them to achieve substantial muscle-building benefits without spending hours in the gym.

In summary, the effectiveness of kettlebells in building muscle and transforming the body lies in their ability to engage multiple muscle groups, promote functional movement patterns, and provide a versatile and time-efficient training solution. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced fitness enthusiast, incorporating kettlebell exercises into your routine can lead to impressive results in muscle development, overall strength, and body composition.

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