It is now widely accepted that kettlebell training is phenomenal for building strength and conditioning. It is also a go-to tool for building explosive power, but it often gets overlooked as a modality for building muscle.
Kettlebell movements are predominately compound/multi-joint movements. This means they use more muscle fibres to perform than single joint isolation exercises. Not only does this allow us to work more muscle but it also causes the body to release more muscle-building hormones and burn more calories, making kettlebell exercises ideal for losing weight.
Here are a few reasons why you should consider training with kettlebells:
Improves overall strength: Kettlebell training involves using multiple muscle groups at once, which can lead to overall improvements in strength.
Increases endurance: Kettlebell exercises often involve a high volume of reps, which can help improve your endurance over time.
Enhances flexibility: Many kettlebell exercises involve movements that require a good range of motion, which can help improve your overall flexibility.
Boosts cardiovascular health: Kettlebell exercises are often performed in a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) style, which can help improve your cardiovascular health and burn calories.
Provides variety: Kettlebell training can be a fun and challenging way to mix up your workout routine and prevent boredom.
Accessible: Kettlebells are relatively inexpensive and can be used in a variety of settings, from the gym to your own home.
If these are still not reason enough for you to consider changing your barbell bench press for the kettlebell variation, then keep on scrolling. Squat, hinge, push, pull, carry – these big movement patterns are what the Kettlebell was built for.
So check out this kettlebell hypertrophy guide where I compare traditional movements with its kettlebell variation.
Kettlebell Hypertrophy Movements
We think of the bench press as the king of chest day, the pec pumper amongst pec pumpers, but a kettlebell floor press can be just as if not more powerful than the traditional bench press with a barbell.
Firstly, the loading position is more natural for the wrists and shoulders. Rather than the weight being balanced at the top of our leavers on our hands, it is racked and resting midway down our forearm, making the kettlebell floor press safer for the wrists and shoulders.
The break-up of the concentric and eccentric chain when performing the floor press allows for a greater muscle stimulation as we take away that stored energy in the muscle that is used to slingshot the weight up in the bench press. Instead, with the floor press, once the triceps hit the ground we are using raw power to restart the movement and press the kettlebells back to full extension.
When comparing the barbell squat variation and the kettlebell Squat variations you may think the barbell always wins due to its increasing loading options. However, if you compare the range of motion achieved in your barbell front squat and your kettlebell goblet squat, it is clear to see that the increased range of motion has value.
Not only does the kettlebell goblet squat’s increased range of motion allow us to work more of the muscle, but it also provides less pressure through the spine making it a safer movement when working with tempo reps, pause reps, etc.
Bent-over rows are the staple of any good pull session in one variation or another. The kettlebell trumps all in this department as the list of row variations is huge, from ballistic row variations to the steadier but equally powerful gorilla row. The horizontal row options are enormous.
The Hinge movement pattern is where the kettlebell really is the king – no barbell or dumbbell movement can replicate the power of the kettlebell swing.
Kettlebells can produce the same muscle stimulus as any other resistance implemented to stimulate muscle growth but where they excel is in adding that ability to overload muscles into your conditioning work. This allows for a greater impact in a shorter time frame.
Staggering the stance for the kettlebell deadlift, Romanian deadlift and chest-loaded good morning also allows us to achieve the same stimulus as the barbell counterparts.
The kettlebell-loaded carry options are also in abundance, from the single-kettlebell goblet or suitcase carry to the more standard farmer’s walks and racked carries.
The kettlebell excels here too with it having a larger handle than the dumbbell making it more demanding for the grip. The smooth handle of the kettlebell in comparison to the textured handle of the dumbbell also adds another dimension to the movement making it both tougher on the forearms and more comfortable on the hands.
The Kettlebell really is the Swiss army knife of the fitness world – it can do everything any other fitness equipment can do and more. Don’t limit your hypertrophy work to dumbbells and barbells; the kettlebell can definitely give you something to freshen up your training.
Kettlebell Hypertrophy Workout
Give this total-body kettlebell hypertrophy workout a try and see for yourself the benefits of adding kettlebell to your training.
Four sets of:
- A1 KB Bridged Floor press 10 reps w/3 sec eccentric + AMRAP
- A2 KB Ballistic Rows 20 reps
Three sets of:
- B1 KB Goblet Squats 15 reps
- B2 KB Goblet Lunges 20 rep
- B3 KB Wall Sit AMRAP
Three sets of:
- C1 KB Staggered stance RDL 8-12 reps/R
- C2 KB Staggered stance RDL 8-12 reps/L
- C3 KB Sumo Swings 12-20 reps
21-15-9 reps of:
- KB Clusters
This workout will give you all the pumping you need with a little bit of fire to finish up with.
If you want more from your Kettlebell Training check out The Graft IV the most complete KB Program ever created. This program works contains 3 cycles, strength, mass, power, all designed to give you the biggest bang for your buck possible. Every workout has a conditioning piece to end with which ensures every single box of the total fitness wheel is ticked.
Just keep moving…
About Luke Downing
“NASM Certified Personal Trainer Minimal Kit specialist, Daddy to Luca & Roma Ray. As a father and business owner, I’m well aware that not everybody has hours each day to spend in the gym. I believe that you can do a lot without a lot, which is why I’m a lover of the single Kettlebell workout. I like to keep things as functional as possible, which means I do not waste time with unnecessary movement’s. Everything I do with my athletes has a purpose and a carryover to sports, activities and everyday life.”