kettlebell shoulder workouts

CrossFit Kettlebell Shoulder Workouts to Bulletproof your Body

Enhance your performance and fitness!

These kettlebell shoulder workouts and exercises will help you to build strength and discover imbalances in your mobility and movement. Kettlebells are excellent tools to improve stability and balance. The workouts will allow you to perform the exercises under fatigued conditions. 

Shoulder Workouts – Kettlebell Thruster

The kettlebell thruster takes the push press and makes it even more dynamic by exaggerating the push part of the movement.

It is a full body exercise that not only works the shoulders but heavily challenges the legs, buttocks, hamstrings, abs, back stabilisers and cardio.

The demands on the shoulders are similar to the push press in that the sticking point from the racked position is avoided due to the momentum coming out of the bottom of the squat position.

You will also find the shoulders fatigue just holding and maintaining the kettlebell throughout the exercise. Try the following WODs to find out where you are strong, and where you are weak. Pay particular attention to any sticking points that might occur as you work through the full range of motion. 

Kettlebell Fran

This variation of the Fran WOD is straight forward enough. Instead of doing thrusters with a barbell, grab two kettlebells. The prescribed weight is different from box to box, but for our purposes, we’re listing it with weights as close to the original Fran as possible.


  • Kettlebell Thrusters (2 x 53/2 x 35 pounds)
  • Pull Ups

KETTLEBELL SHOULDER WORKOUTS – Event 1 from 2014 CrossFit Games

For time:

  • 250-yard swim
  • 50 kettlebell thrusters, 35 lb.
  • 30 burpees
  • 500-yard swim
  • 30 burpees
  • 50 kettlebell thrusters, 35 lb.
  • 250-yard swim

Kettlebell Windmill

The kettlebell is held overhead as before with a straight arm and wrist and then you reach down towards the floor with the opposite hand.

The ultimate goals is to reach the opposite ankle with the hand while keeping both legs straight.

However, for the beginner achieving this full position can be very challenging both on the shoulder as well as the flexibility through the back and hamstrings.

IN the video below, Marcus Filly performs the windmill in a bottoms up position. For the regular version simply grip the handle and let the kettlebell rest on the back of your forearm. 

Modifications can be made to help progress the exercise:

  1. Practice first without the kettlebell
  2. Keep the one leg straight while slightly bending the other leg
  3. Reach down with straight legs between the feet as far as possible without bending the knees
  4. Progress towards the opposite ankle

General Strength – Reps and Sets

For strength building sets, athletes can perform lower repetition ranges for more sets.

  • 4-6 sets of 3-5 repetitions, resting 2-3 minutes

Movement Coordination – Reps and Sets

Muscle hypertrophy can be accomplished by adding training volume (more reps), time under tension, and/or training towards fatigue.

  • 3-5 sets of 5-8 repetitions, resting 1-2 minutes

Muscle Endurance – Reps and Sets

Some lifters may want to train greater muscle endurance (for sport), in which higher repetition ranges and/or shorter rest periods are recommended.

  • 2-3 sets of 12+ repetitions, resting 60-90 seconds between (this is highly sport specific)

Straight Arm Overhead Kettlebell Hold

There are 3 progressions to this exercise:

  1. Half Kneeling Position (as shown above, back knee is on the floor)
  2. Standing Position (keep abs and glutes tight)
  3. Walking (take a walk with the kettlebell held overhead)
  4. Overhead Kneeling to Standing 

Workout from Sara Sigmundsdottir called KETTLEBELL HELL!

Sara: ‘If you want to work on your mental side I recommend this workout: Kettlebell Hell

4 Rounds for increasing load:

  • 10 Double KB Clean
  • 10m Double KB FR Carry
  • 10 Double KB STOH
  • 10m Double KB FR Carry
  • 10 Double KB FR Lunges
  • 10m Double KB FR Carry
  • 10 Double KB FR Squat
  • REST 3 minutes b/t rounds

“Recommended starting weights 16/12kg (35/26lbs) or more if you dare.. Take it with someone who pushes you! Thanks BK Gudmundsson for the competition”

The goal is to strengthen the stabilising muscles around the shoulder joint.

You can mix this up into other variations:

Shoulder Workouts – Bottoms Up Kettlebell Single Arm Overhead Carry

Shoulder Workouts – Single Arm Kettlebell Front Rack Carry

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