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The Ultimate Kettlebell Upper Body Workout

Kettlebells can build serious upper body strength.

Ingenious fitness gear, the kettlebell can help you strengthen any muscle group of your body. This time, we take a look at the ultimate kettlebell upper body workout. Let’s get to work!

Following on from the ultimate kettlebell leg day we move up for the ultimate kettlebell upper body workout. You might think that the upper body pump/bro sessions are limited to barbells and dumbbells but I’m here to show you that the humble Kettlebell can give you all the Schwarzenegger stimulus you desire.

Kettlebell Upper Body Workout

The workout below will give you all the tools you need to increase muscular size and strength while being joint-friendly.

The Ultimate Kettlebell Upper Body Workout

The ultimate kettlebell upper body workout consists of:

  • Dual kettlebell floor press with eccentric loading (4 sets, 8-12 reps)
  • Kettlebell two-handed bridge floor press (2 sets, AMRAP)
  • Kettlebell row superset (3 rounds)
  • Kettlebell vertical push superset (3 rounds)
  • Kettlebell Single-Arm Superset (3 rounds)

Read below how to perform the exercises and to know exactly how many reps and sets you should do.

Dual Kettlebell Floor Press with Eccentric Loading

  • 4 sets
  • 8-12 reps

You can’t have a kettlebell upper body workout without the daddy of all upper body movements: the Bench Press.

As we are kettlebell savages though we do not need a bench. Instead, we take our horizontal press to the floor for some kettlebell floor press.

Not only does this movement give you all the pec pumping activation you crave, but it is also less impactful on the shoulders and brings with it more triceps activation making it a safer, more effective pressing variation

You may find that your limited kettlebell weight options leave you having to go too heavy or too light for pieces like this. Because of that, I like to throw in an eccentric option here, this allows you to squeeze more out of the lighter weights and still tick the box.

I advise going for a 5 second eccentric, meaning you will slowly lower the kettlebells under tension for 5 seconds, letting the triceps make contact with the floor before initiating the press to return to lock out.

Kettlebell Two-Handed Bridge Floor Press

  • 2 sets

* AMRAP stands for “as many reps as possible”

I love to follow up the main lift with a muscle pumper to squeeze out that muscle group as much as possible. This also helps to balance out any missed opportunities due to kettlebell weights being too light or too heavy to get the most out of the movement.

This two-handed press will give you the chance to focus on that mind-muscle connection.

Using a single kettlebell, you will hold both hands on the bell and perform the Floor press in the same manner as the dual variation.

I would advise taking the bridge stance to give you some posterior chain activation but also allow for a stronger pressing position to squeeze out every last rep.

Make sure the bell touches the sternum with each rep and returns to a lockout position. Your chest and triceps should be on fire if you get this right – we are going for max reps.

Kettlebell Row Superset 1

  • A1: Kettlebell underhand rows – 12-15 reps
  • A2: Kettlebell rows – 16-20 reps
  • 3 rounds

Next up we are balancing out the pressing action with some pull work. This gives the pressing muscles a chance to recover but also builds symmetry in the body and prevents any imbalances.

Source: Luke Downing

Kettlebell Rows come in many forms but the combination used here gives the biggest bang for your buck possible, in my humble opinion.

This double dose allows us to really fire up the back and biceps while also helping us to get some core activation, making it invaluable in our ultimate kettlebell upper body workout.

You should maintain slow, focused movements on the underhand row making sure you get the most muscle activity by squeezing the lats, traps and biceps at the top of the movement.

Once complete you will then move directly into the ballistic kettlebell row. This single-arm ballistic row allows us to burn out the muscle while adding some joint stability and durability as we decelerate the bell on the concentric.

Kettlebell Vertical Push Superset

Next up, we are hitting some vertical push with some serious core and shoulder stability work. This piece is a real grit-and-grind.

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

Kettlebell Single-Arm Superset

Kettlebell Tall-Kneeling Horn Grip Curls

  • 50-100 reps
  • Every break, 6 kettlebell kickback push-ups

Lastly in the kettlebell upper body workout we have tall-kneeling horn grip curls.

This round is all about the sleeve ripping arm pump. You will go to 50-100 reps depending on the KB weight – if you struggle to complete 10 reps before breaking you should go for 50 reps, otherwise aim for the 100 reps.

Every time you break you will perform 6 kettlebell kickback push-ups. This is going to leave your arms swollen but exhausted.

That’s your Ultimate Kettlebell Upper Day…I would use this workout once per week as part of your strength training. To progressively overload, I would increase weight or repetitions over a 4 week period being sure to maintain form and tempo if required. After 4 weeks, ease back and give yourself a lighter week before ramping it back up again.

If you would like to get more out of your kettlebell training join our online program The Kettlebell Club or, for more tailored programming, get in touch @lukeydpt on Instagram 

We also have some pretty kick ass eBooks in the store.

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