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Kettlebell Shoulder Workouts To Explode Your Conditioning

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.

21-15-9

  • 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

Kettlebell Shoulder Workouts – Single Arm Kettlebell Front Rack Carry

Shoulder Workouts – Kettlebell Push Press

The kettlebell push press involves using the legs and hips slightly just to get the kettlebell out of the sticking point when it’s held in the racked position at the chest. It’s an excellent kettlebell shoulder workout.

Once the kettlebell has been bumped up to the top position the descent is very important.

Control the kettlebell down very slowly actively using your latissimus dorsi muscles (under your armpit) as a kind of shelf to help guide the kettlebell down again.

“TRY TO KEEP THE BELLS IN AS STRAIGHT A LINE AS POSSIBLE AND AVOID PRESSING OUT TOO FAR IN FRONT OF YOUR FACE. PRESS UP AND BACK SO THE BELL LOCKS OUT SLIGHTLY BEHIND YOUR HEAD. MAKE SURE THE BELL HANDLE IS AT A 45° ANGLE PRESSING INTO YOUR PALM TO HELP FURTHER THE MIND-BODY CONNECTION FOR THE MOST EFFICIENT FORM POSSIBLE.”

Kettlebell Swing

“WHEN WE SWING THE KETTLEBELL TO OVERHEAD, THE AMERICAN SWING, WE NEARLY DOUBLE THE RANGE OF MOTION COMPARED TO THE RUSSIAN SWING AND THEREBY DOUBLE THE WORK DONE EACH STROKE. FOR ANY GIVEN TIME PERIOD, THE POWER WOULD BE EQUIVALENT ONLY IF THE RUSSIAN SWING RATE WAS TWICE THE AMERICAN SWING RATE.” CROSSFIT

SHOULDER WORKOUTS WITH KETTLEBELL SWINGS:

Helen

3 rounds of:
400m Sprint
21 Kettlebell Swings (24kg)
12 Pull-ups

Nate:

AMRAP in 20 min:
2 Muscle-ups
4 Handstand Push-ups
8 Kettlebell swings (32 kg)

Get started:

Like with every other exercise technique comes first to assure you to train the right muscles and avoid injuries especially in the lower back section.

1. Starting Position

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Place the Kettlebell (handle running across you) between your feet in a line with your toes.

2. Bend your hips

The first step is to slightly bend your hips and push them backwards. Try to reach down with your hips until you can grab the Kettlebell. Keep your back straight (one line from hip to end).

1

3. Straighten up

Push yourself up through your hips, stand straight at the top. Pull your shoulders down and back. Tense glutes firmly and push your feet in the ground. When straightening up fast, the Kettlebell will first swing to the front, away from your body.

shoulder workouts

4. Swing backwards

Use the force of the swing to push back with your hips again. Swing the Kettlebell backwards through your legs always keeping the alignment and tension of your body. Drive with hips and legs.

shoulder workouts

5. Catch at the Top

Swing the Kettlebell up front driving with hips and legs. Catch it at the top of the movement – above your head.

shoulder workouts

As a starting weight the IKFF (International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation) suggests 16 Kg/35 lb for an average trained male and 8 kg/17 lb for an average trained female. The next weights would be 20 Kg/44 lb, 24 Kg/52 lb and 32 Kg/70 lb.

Read More: Add Kettlebell Flow to Your Training and Level-Up Your Fitness

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