17 Awesome Kettlebell Exercises For Arms – Garage Gym Pro

The kettlebell is by no means a new addition to the weight training equipment. The kettlebell's predecessor, the Russian girya, has been used since the 19th century.

Still, kettlebells were nowhere near as popular as they are today before CrossFit became a global phenomenon. Now they are practically a staple of home workouts.

In general, kettlebell training should be focused on building strength and developing movement patterns rather than muscle isolation exercises.

You can develop bigger arms by doing full-body training and isolation exercises with a kettlebell instead of a dumbbell.

Let's take a deep dive into the 17 best upper-body kettlebell exercises. If you are persistent enough, you can make your biceps and triceps stand out.

1. Standing Kettlebell Bicep Curl

Target: Biceps brachii, brachialis, brachioradialis

The biceps curl is the most effective exercise for the biceps brachii muscle. There are many variations.

You can use a kettlebell, barbell, dumbbell, resistance band, cable machine, or body weight. Each variation will help you develop strong biceps and build muscle mass. 

It's good to change the type of biceps curl you do from time to time to stimulate the muscle a bit differently and thus make it grow faster.

Although the weight of the kettlebell you use for the biceps curl is certainly important, focus on executing the exercise properly.

Your hand should remain aligned with the arm, so avoid bending the wrist.

Suggested Equipment - Best Kettlebells For Garage Gyms

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and engage the core for stability.
  2. 2
    Take a kettlebell (or two) and hold it with an underhand grip.
  3. 3
    Your elbows should be approximately at the iliac crest (hip crest)
  4. 4
    Curl the kettlebell up towards your shoulder.
  5. 5
    Slow lower it back down (negative phase)
Garage Gym Pro Tip: At the top of the movement, forcefully squeeze the biceps.
Standing Kettlebell Bicep Curl

2. Double Arm Kettlebell Bicep Curl

Target: Biceps brachii, brachialis, brachioradialis

At first glance, this exercise may seem the same as the classic biceps curl, but actually, there is a difference.

Different angle leads to a change in the level of muscle activation. So the emphasis is on the brachialis instead of the biceps brachii. 

It works the same muscles as a bicep hammer curl with dumbbells, so it's great for developing your forearms.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. 2
    Push your chest out (proud chest)
  3. 3
    Take it with both hands, arms bent slightly, and curl it up to chest height.
  4. 4
    Pause at the top of the movement and slowly lower it down.
Garage Gym Pro Tip: Use a kettlebell at least 50% heavier than the one you use for the one-arm biceps curl.
Double Arm Kettlebell Bicep Curl

3. Kettlebell Overhead Tricep Extensions

Target: Triceps brachii, posterior deltoid

Most exercisers focus more on the biceps than the triceps, and that is a mistake.

You should certainly pay attention to the biceps, but the triceps is a larger muscle and has three heads compared to the two heads of the biceps.

If you skip triceps exercises, you can't have big, muscular arms.

The overhead extension is one of the most effective triceps isolation exercises.[1]

This movement will make you go through the full range of motion and thus stretch the muscle, exposing the fibers to great stress.

Many prefer a kettlebell to a dumbbell for an overhead extension.

Related Article - Should You Work Biceps & Triceps Together?

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Sit on the edge of a bench or stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. 2
    Hold the kettlebell firmly behind your head, the kettlebell facing up.
  3. 3
    Tighten your core.
  4. 4
    Raise it until your arms are fully extended while keeping your elbows fixed throughout the motion.
Garage Gym Pro Tip: Those with shoulder instability should be very cautious because the overhead extension can worsen existing problems with the labrum, ligaments, or joint. 
Choose a lighter weight or include some other similar exercise in your routine.
Kettlebell Overhead Tricep Extensions

4. Kettlebell Skull Crusher

Target: Triceps brachii, forearms

The name of this great exercise might sound scary, but it puts the shoulders under less stress and is equally effective for the triceps and upper arms in general.

That is why it is a regular part of my workout routine, and I recommend it to all of my clients.

Start light because the skull crusher is much harder than it looks.

Also Check Out - Best Lateral Head Tricep Exercises

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Lie down on a bench or the floor (a bench is my preference)
  2. 2
    Grab one kettlebell by the horns with both hands.
  3. 3
    Place it above your chest area.
  4. 4
    Slowly bend your arms to lower the kettlebell towards your head (hence the name)
  5. 5
    Straighten your elbows to bring it back to starting position.
Garage Gym Pro Tip: The decline kettlebell skull crusher increases tension to all three heads of the triceps while reducing elbow strain.
Kettlebell Skull Crusher

5. Kettlebell Tall Kneeling Press

Target: Deltoids, triceps brachii, core, serratus anterior, forearms

The kettlebell tall kneeling press is similar to the Arnold press since you are adding a twist to a standard shoulder press.

However, the Arnold press is usually performed in a sitting position, not kneeling.

That's why the tall kneeling press is more demanding for the core and all other muscles because they have to act as stabilizers.

This superb exercise will help you not only to build your shoulders and arms but also to improve your overall performance when doing other push exercises.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Kneel and keep your legs 4 to 5 inches apart.
  2. 2
    Place the kettlebell in the front racked position[2]
  3. 3
    Engage your core muscles and glutes.
  4. 4
    Push it overhead while gradually twisting the weight—the palm facing forward at the end of the movement.
Kettlebell Tall Kneeling Press

6. Kettlebell Push Press

Target: Deltoids, triceps brachii, core, serratus anterior, pectoralis major

The push press is different from the shoulder press because the legs are also included in the movement.

The kettlebell push press can be a very useful exercise to get past a plateau in weightlifting since it allows you to increase the weight even when you are not ready for a heavier kettlebell during the regular overhead press.

You can also take advantage of the push press technique and do a few more kettlebell overhead press repetitions.

Those last few repetitions are the most important, so when you reach the point of failure, activate your legs.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. 2
    Place the kettlebell in the front rack position.
  3. 3
    Bend your knees slightly as if you are starting to squat, and then initiate an upward motion while pushing the kettlebell overhead.
  4. 4
    Finish when the arm is completely straightened and legs extended.
  5. 5
    Repeat
Kettlebell Push Press

7. Kettlebell Clean & Press

Target: Deltoids, triceps brachii, biceps brachii, core, serratus anterior, pectoralis major, glutes, quadriceps femoris

The clean and press is a compound exercise that was once part of Olympic-style weightlifting competitions.

It is no longer part of the competition due to difficulties in judging, but it remains one of the exercises that activates almost every muscle in the body.

This exercise won't build your arms alone, but it will significantly improve your fitness level and thus boost your overall results.

Also, during several parts of this complex movement, the biceps and triceps will be in the spotlight.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. 2
    Point your toes outwards like when doing a sumo deadlift.
  3. 3
    Brace your core.
  4. 4
    Bend your knees slightly and grab a kettlebell with an underhand grip.
  5. 5
    Move your hips forward forcefully to Initiate the movement.
  6. 6
    Stand up straight and put the kettlebell in the front rack position simultaneously.
  7. 7
    Press the weight overhead until your biceps reach approximately your ears' height.
Garage Gym Pro Tip: The clean and press is not an exercise for beginners. 
They should start with the kettlebell clean to master the first part of the movement and only then introduce the press.
Kettlebell Clean & Press

8. Kettlebell Squat and Press

Target: Deltoids, triceps brachii, core, serratus anterior, pectoralis major, glutes, quadriceps femoris, hamstrings, calves

As you can conclude from the number of target muscles, the squat and press exercise activates practically the entire body.

The movement is relatively similar to the clean and press, but the legs are more involved, and the biceps are less involved.

The momentum from the squat is transferred to the press, which makes the biceps less active.

It is one of the best kettlebell exercises for improving cardiorespiratory fitness.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Stand with your feet a bit wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. 2
    Hold a kettlebell with an underhand grip.
  3. 3
    Sit on your heels as you lower into a squat.
  4. 4
    Start standing up.
  5. 5
    Use that momentum to perform a fluent, explosive movement that will bring the kettlebell into the rack and then into the overhead position with the arm fully straightened.
Kettlebell Squat And Press

9. Kettlebell Close Grip Push Up

Target: Triceps brachii, anterior deltoid, pectoralis major, latissimus dorsi, core, serratus anterior

Close grip push-up is a highly effective upper body exercise, the same as all other push-up forms.

Calisthenics athletes sometimes base their entire workout on push-ups, dips, and pull-ups. Check out our calisthenics workout plan to dive into the complete training program.

The kettlebell close grip push-up is not for beginners, and most intermediate exercisers will probably find it too difficult as well.

Until you can do at least 15 reps of the decline push-up, diamond push-up, and pike push-up, stick to other variations instead of kettlebell close grip push-up.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Take a large, heavy kettlebell and lay it on the ground on its side.
  2. 2
    Place both hands in a diamond shape on it.
  3. 3
    Brace your core, or it will be impossible to remain stable.
  4. 4
    Perform a push-up until your chest touches the kettlebell.
  5. 5
    Explosively return to the starting position.
Kettlebell Close Grip Push Up

10. Seated Incline Kettlebell Bicep Curl

Target: Biceps brachii, brachialis, brachioradialis

When performing a seated incline kettlebell bicep curl, your biceps are even more engaged than during a regular bicep curl. There are two reasons why this is so.

The first reason is the increased range of motion, and the second reason is that you are sitting.

When you sit, especially in this position, the rest of the body cannot help, but the biceps must do all the work.

Therefore you should start with light kettlebells compared to the one you are using for standing biceps curl.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Set an incline bench, sit on it, and grab a kettlebell in each hand.
  2. 2
    Press your back against the bench, engage your core, and let your arms hang.
  3. 3
    Curl the kettlebells towards your shoulders without changing the position of your elbows.
Garage Gym Pro Tip: The optimal angle on the incline bench is between 30 and 45 degrees.
Seated Incline Kettlebell Bicep Curl

11. Kettlebell Floor Press

Target: Pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, triceps brachii, anterior deltoid, serratus anterior

I prefer exercises that make you move joints through their full range of motion. Having said that, the floor press is one of the exceptions.

A few years ago, I just couldn't break a bench press plateau until I included the floor press in my workout routine on chest day.

It was the limited range of motion that helped me strengthen my chest and arms even more. 

Because of a limited range of motion, floor press should certainly not be the only chest exercise you do but rather one to burn pecs and triceps at the end of the training session using heavier weights.

Using a kettlebell instead of a dumbbell or a barbell makes this exercise a fantastic substitute for the standard floor press.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Lie down on the floor.
  2. 2
    Take one or two kettlebells, depending on whether you are doing a single or double-arm floor press.
  3. 3
    Elbow should be on the floor at a 45-degree angle.
  4. 4
    Explosively raise the kettlebell straight up.
  5. 5
    Squeeze the pecs at the top of the movement and keep arms straight, palms facing the ceiling.
Kettlebell Floor Press

12. Kettlebell Hammer Curls

Target: Biceps brachii, brachialis, brachioradialis, forearms

The hammer curl is one of my favorites. This bicep exercise hits the long head and short head of the biceps, as well as the brachialis, brachioradialis, and forearms.

If you want to use a kettlebell instead of a dumbbell for hammer curls, you must have a very strong wrist, grip, and forearm.

Those struggling with grip strength should first start with dumbbells and later try kettlebells.

Otherwise, you risk wrist injury, and it is almost certain that you will not execute the exercise properly.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Grab a kettlebell in each hand using a neutral grip.
  2. 2
    Keep your elbows close to your body.
  3. 3
    Raise the weight to shoulder height. You can do it simultaneously or try alternating hammer curls.
Kettlebell Hammer Curls

13. Kettlebell Bent Over Rows

Target: Latissimus dorsi, trapezius, rhomboids, posterior deltoid, biceps brachii

The bent-over row is primarily a back exercise, but as with practically all back exercises, the biceps is a secondary muscle that is significantly involved.

I find the kettlebell more comfortable than the dumbbell for this exercise.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Bend your knees and lower your torso until it's somewhere between vertical and parallel to the floor (hip hinge).
  2. 2
    Hold a kettlebell with a straight arm (or two kettlebells with both arms) and pull your shoulder blades backward.
  3. 3
    Pull the kettlebells up to your rib cage, both at the same time or alternating.
  4. 4
    Squeeze your lats for greater muscle activation.
  5. 5
    Slowly return the weights to the starting position.
Kettlebell Bent Over Rows

14. Kettlebell Plank Rows

Target: Core, latissimus dorsi, trapezius, rhomboids, posterior deltoid, biceps brachii, glutes

The plank row is an advanced row variation that requires a very strong core. Otherwise, you won't be able to maintain the plank position and perform rows simultaneously.

My advice is to try to hold the classic plank and side plank for about a minute. Also, try mountain climbers for at least 30 seconds.

If you can do all that successfully, then you are ready for kettlebell plank rows. 

This movement is a good alternative to renegade rows as well!

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Place two kettlebells in front of you on the ground.
  2. 2
    Get into a plank and grab kettlebell handles.
  3. 3
    Tighten your core.
  4. 4
    Bend your hips slightly for stability, and your back must remain flat.
  5. 5
    Pull it towards your body until the elbow is just past the midline.
  6. 6
     Alternate arms or do one and then the other arm.
Garage Gym Pro Tip: Keep in mind that the position you should take for the plank row looks more like a push-up position or high plank than a forearm plank.
Kettlebell Plank Rows

15. Kettlebell Tricep Kickbacks

Target: Triceps brachii, posterior deltoid

The tricep kickback is one of the best isolation tricep exercises. If you perform it properly, you will feel your entire triceps working through the full range of motion.

Opt for a lighter kettlebell because a large and heavy one is not suitable for tricep kickbacks unless you have superhuman grip strength.

Otherwise, you risk damage to the elbow joint, tendons, and ligaments around it, and your wrist can be hurt as well.

How to do it:

  1. 1
    You can stand or kneel with one leg on the bench.
  2. 2
    Bent over (hip hinge)
  3. 3
    Grab a kettlebell handle.
  4. 4
    Straighten your arm behind you.
  5. 5
    Pause for a second.
Garage Gym Pro Tip: When you fully straighten your arm, try to push the whole arm from the shoulder a little further back, for end-range strength.
Kettlebell Tricep Kickbacks

16. Kettlebell Goblet Squat Curls

Target: Biceps brachii, brachialis, brachioradialis, glutes, quadriceps, core

To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of 2-in-1 exercises. I think that the 2-in-1 approach lowers the intensity of both exercises that you would otherwise do separately.

However, the kettlebell goblet squat curl is one of the 2-in-1 exercises that are useful and can be well incorporated into full-body workouts or when you're short on time.

The goblet squat targets the quadriceps but also almost the entire lower body, especially if you are using heavy kettlebells.[3]

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
  2. 2
    Point your toes slightly outward.
  3. 3
    Take a bigger kettlebell in both hands with an overhand grip, bend your elbows, and put it in the middle of your chest (approximately at the sternum)
  4. 4
    Press your hips back and bend your knees to perform the goblet squat.
  5. 5
    When you squat down, keep your feet flat, stay in the bottom position and rest your elbows on the inside of your knees.
  6. 6
    Perform a few biceps curls.
  7. 7
    Stand up.
Kettlebell-Goblet-Squat-Curls

17. Kettlebell Preacher Curls

Target: Biceps brachii, brachialis, brachioradialis

The preacher curls heavily emphasize bicep muscles.

The preacher bench puts you in such a position that shoulders are almost totally out of the equation, thus leaving the biceps fully exposed to the load.

If your gym doesn't have a preacher bench, you can do single-arm preacher curls on an incline bench.

See Also - 10 Effective Preacher Curl Alternatives

How to do it:

  1. 1
    Sit at the preacher bench and put your armpits on the top of the bench.
  2. 2
    Grab a kettlebell with mid-upper palms.
  3. 3
    Fully extend your arms.
  4. 4
    Curl one or both kettlebells until you reach about a 100-degree angle.
Kettlebell Preacher Curls

Benefits Of Using Kettlebells For Biceps, Triceps, and Shoulders

There are numerous benefits of using kettlebells for the biceps, triceps, and shoulders.

After reading all these exercises, it is clear that the kettlebell is a very versatile piece of weight equipment.

It can help you grow certain muscles but also improve your overall fitness level since it is equally suitable for strength and cardio training. Those are certainly the main benefits.

Other than that, portability is another benefit that makes everyone love the kettlebell so much and why it has become a part of every gym, fitness center, and even calisthenics park; although the kettlebell is not part of a bodyweight workout, it can be combined with it.

One more benefit is grip strength. Many can’t strengthen the grip sufficiently with barbells and dumbbells, but they can by doing most kettlebell exercises.


Frequently Kettlebell Arm Exercise Questions

Can you get big arms from a kettlebell?

Yes, kettlebells can be quite heavy, so you will be working on your arms both during isolation exercises and during certain exercises where the biceps, triceps, and forearms are secondary muscles.

Are kettlebells good for toning arms?

You can certainly develop muscles and lose fat on your arms using kettlebells, which will give you toned arms and a muscular appearance. You just have to be creative and make a good workout plan or let your personal trainer make it for you.

How long should a kettlebell workout be?

It depends on many factors, such as your fitness level, age, and goal, but since the intensity of such a workout is very high, usually, 15 to 20 minutes is enough.

Which is better: dumbbell or kettlebell?

They are different, but both are very useful. A kettlebell is better for full-body, dynamic movements, while a dumbbell is a preferred choice when you want to isolate a muscle. In case you don't have one of these two pieces of equipment, the other can serve as a good alternative.

Read More - Kettlebells Vs Dumbbells

How heavy should a beginner kettlebell be for arm workout?

Male beginners should start with 20-25 lbs, and for female beginners, I recommend around 15 lbs.

See Related - What Size Kettlebell Do I Need?


Conclusion

A kettlebell arm workout is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of arm exercises.

However, the biceps, triceps, and forearms are involved in almost every movement, including ones where the emphasis is on the legs.

This leads us to conclude that it is inevitable to develop arm muscles with any type of training, including kettlebell training primarily focused on compound movements and cardiovascular fitness.

Weight training is only one of the steps toward your goal. You have to pay attention to nutrition, rest, and lifestyle habits to maximize your potential and reach your desired appearance faster.

 I hope I’ve helped you learn how to use kettlebells for arms!

References: 

1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28677940/
2. https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a31118497/front-rack-position/
3. https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Fulltext/2021/10000/Differences_in_Muscle_Activity_and_Kinetics.1.aspx

Filip Maric

Last Updated on December 18, 2022