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Destroy Upper Body Weaknesses with these Kettlebell Chest Workouts

Diversify your training and build a powerful chest with these intense kettlebell chest workouts.

Kettlebells are a versatile piece of gym equipment used in all sorts of exercises and in all kinds of workouts. You can use kettlebells to build muscle in your chest and upper body, crushing any weaknesses and providing some diversity to your training. 

Kettlebell chest workouts make use of minimal equipment. All that’s needed is one or two kettlebells at a comfortable but challenging weight to start making serious gains to your pectoral muscles, which in turn help build powerful upper body strength.

Benefits of Kettlebell Chest Workouts

Aesthetics aside, a strong chest directly impacts the work you put into having a strong back. These muscles together — which include the pectorals, rhomboids, traps and deltoids — allow you to push, pull, and lift increasingly heavier weights, while improving better posture and preventing slouching.

The two ‘pec’ muscles that make up the chest are the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor – these are some of the biggest muscles in the body. They are responsible for an endless number of daily movements, making them important to keep strong and healthy.

Train your pecs with kettlebells

Many classic CrossFit movements such as push-ups and burpees require good chest strength to lift your body weight efficiently. It also helps you push heavy objects and support the overall development of the upper body. 

So why use a kettlebell? Kettlebells are helpful in a variety of exercises and workouts. Perhaps you have been training a lot from home with limited equipment and want to build your chest outside of bodyweight push-ups. Many kettlebell workouts will indirectly affect the chest given the nature of the weight.

Diversify your training with kettlebells

Kettlebells have a different learning curve to dumbbells given their shape, so sometimes the simple act of using a kettlebell activates different muscle groups for stability. They provide a different training experience and can be used in multiple ways — yes even for chest workouts.

Kettlebell Chest Exercises

Before launching into the following kettlebell chest workouts, here are three staple kettlebell chest exercises to master so you can perform each movement correctly to optimise the gains and grow muscle fast.

Kettlebell Chest Press

The kettlebell chest press, much like the dumbbell press or barbell press, is the ultimate kettlebell chest exercise for building strength across your pecs and into your arms.

To complete a kettlebell chest press correctly, lie on the floor with the shoulders and lower back flat on the ground. Keeping your elbows in towards the body, hold the handle of the kettlebell — one in each hand — and raise them slowly up above your head and chest.

Things to keep in mind for this exercise is to keep the movement controlled as you move the kettlebells up and down, and you can increase the activation on the pectoral muscles by moving the kettlebells in towards the midline on the way up.

Kettlebell Renegade Row

For an exercise that works the upper back muscles as well as the arms, chest and core, the kettlebell renegade row is the perfect movement. 

Staring with two kettlebells shoulder-width apart, place your body in a push-up position with the kettlebells underneath your chest, with each hand on the handle of each kettlebell. 

Keep your body and back as straight as possible as you raise one kettlebell up with your right hand, while pressing into the ground as hard as you can with your left hand. Squeeze your upper back as you bring the kettlebell up towards your chest.

Maintain tension throughout the core as you lower the kettlebell back to the ground, and repeat on the opposite side for the required amount of rounds and reps.

Pro tip: To up the intensity of this kettlebell chest exercise, include a push-up between each renegade row. 

Half Get Up Chest Press / Half-Turkish Get Up

A classic kettlebell exercise that works the core, builds shoulder stabilisation, and strengthens the chest; the half Turkish get-up can be used as a transitional exercise towards a full Turkish get-up, but also can be an exercise in itself. 

To complete a half Turkish get-up, you’ll want to start on your back. The best way to pick up the weight is to roll onto your side and grasp the handle of the kettlebell, bringing it close to your chest. Roll back onto your back while holding the weight with both hands.

Lift the weight above your chest with both hands, releasing the left hand not on the kettlebell back to the ground. Straighten out your left leg while keeping the right knee bent. From this position, tighten your core and roll your body over onto your left elbow, keeping the weight straight up in the air.

turkish get upSource: Alonso Reyes on Unsplash
Turkish Get-Up

After you feel comfortable with the rolling motion, next push yourself up onto your hand, extending your weighted arm up and locking your shoulders. Return back down into your back, keeping an eye on the kettlebell throughout the exercise. 

Repeat the movement without a kettlebell first to make sure you are comfortable with the movement before adding weight.

5 Kettlebell Chest Workouts To Diversify Your Training

1 “Big Poppa Pump” by Luke Downing

For Time:

50-40-30-20-10 reps of:

  • Push-Ups
  • Kettlebell Ballistic Rows (24/16 kg)

With a running clock, as fast as possible perform the prescribed work in the order written. Perform 50 Push-Ups and 50 Kettlebell Ballistic Rows. After the 50 reps, move on to 40 reps of each movement and so on.

Score is the time on the clock when the last set of ballistic rows is completed.

Kettlebell Ballistic Row: Similar to Bent Over Row, hold the Kettlebell on one hand and bend your upper torso 45 degrees down. Push the Kettlebell down close to the ground and pull it up to your hips and switch hands.

If you feel uncomfortable with Ballistic Rows, replace them with Renegade Rows.

2 “Annabelle” by Luke Downing

For Time:

  • 50 Russian Kettlebell Swings (24/16 kg)
  • 104 Goblet Squats (24/16 kg)
  • 50 Russian Kettlebell Swings (24/16 kg)
  • 104 Kettlebell Ballistic Rows (24/16 kg)
  • 50 Russian Kettlebell Swings (24/16 kg)
  • 104 Kettlebell Push Presses (24/16 kg)
  • 50 Russian Kettlebell Swings (24/16 kg)
  • 104 Goblet Squats (24/16 kg)
  • 50 Russian Kettlebell Swings (24/16 kg)

With a running clock, as fast as possible perform the prescribed work in the order written.

Score is the time on the clock when the last set of Russian Kettlebell Swings is completed.

3 “Arnie”

For Time:

  • 21 Turkish Get-Ups, Right Arm
  • 50 Kettlebell Swings
  • 21 Overhead Squats, Left Arm
  • 50 Kettlebell Swings
  • 21 Overhead Squats, Right Arm
  • 50 Kettlebell Swings
  • 21 Turkish Get-Ups, Left Arm

Use a single Kettlebell (2/1.5 pood)

4 “Iron Sheik”

5 Rounds for Time:

  • 2 Right-Arm Kettlebell Turkish Get-Ups (24/16 kg)
  • 2 Left-Arm Kettlebell Turkish Get-Ups (24/16 kg)
  • 8 Hindu Push-Ups
  • 24 Hindu Air Squats

With a running clock, as fast as possible perform the prescribed work in the order written for 5 rounds.

Score is the time on the clock when the last round of Hindu Air Squats is completed.

Movement Standards

Hindu Push-Up: This is a variant of the standard Push-Up. Instead of lowering the torso down directly parallel to the ground, athlete must lower down the body into a sweeping motion and ending in an upward dog position.

Hindu Air Squat: This is a variant of the standard Air Squat. The only difference is the arms must be swayed like sweeping the ground and up.

5 “El Paso Strong”

For Time:

Buy-In: 2019 meter Run

Directly into, 3 Rounds of:

  • 82 Double-Unders
  • 23 Wall Ball Shots (20/14 lb)
  • 23 Burpees
  • 8 Renegade Rows (50/35 lb)
  • 2 Turkish Get-Ups (50/35 lb, per side)

Buy-Out: 82 Sit-Ups

With a running clock, as fast as possible perform the prescribed work. Athletes must complete the buy-in of 2,019 meter Run before moving on to 3 rounds of 82 Double-Unders. 23 Wall Ball Shots, 23 Burpees, 8 Renegade Rows, and 2 Turkish Get-Ups per side. To complete the workout, perform the buy-out of 82 Sit-Ups.

Score is the time on the clock when the 82nd Sit-Up is completed.

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