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The Fastest & Most-Effective Kettlebell Workout for Your Arms, According to Trainers

When you think of a kettlebell workout, you probably think of the traditional swing movement that works primarily your legs and core. Which is probably why you probably reach for a set of dumbbells when you want to tone your arms. However, don’t discount the efficacy of a kettlebell to help you get those sculpted biceps.

“A kettlebell is arguably one of the most versatile pieces of training equipment you can have in your arsenal,” Justin Fauci, NASM-certified personal trainer, co-founder of Caliber Fitness, tells SheKnows. “Unlike dumbbells, kettlebells can be used not only for slow, muscle building exercises, but more dynamic, cardiovascularly challenging movements like swings and snatches that improve power and strength. This means that, no matter whether you are trying to burn fat or tone muscle, are a beginner or more advanced, you can select exercises to suit you.”

Whether you are in a gym or at home, the humble kettlebell (KB) can be used to achieve a challenging whole-body workout with just a little imagination. Below are some quick and effective exercises to help get you those arms of steel. Do them all during one sweat session or mix them within your current workout.

Dual bent over KB row

“Rows are one of the ultimate back builders but also use some biceps, especially when using a narrower or underhand grip,” says Fauci.

How to: Bend your torso forward by about 45 degrees. Stand strong and stable with weight evenly distributed across the feet and back position set. Grab a kettlebell in each hand and retract your scapula, pulling the elbows back until you feel a contraction. This movement works the lats, rhomboids, traps and biceps.

Perform: 3 sets of 8-12.

Single Arm Split Squat KB Shoulder Press 

“This move targets the shoulders, quads, and glutes,” Devan Kline, co-founder and CEO of Burn Boot Camp (NASM,FSN, CPT) tells SheKnows.

How to: Grab the kettlebell by going underneath the handle, twisting it up so that the weight of it rests on your forearm. From here you are going to squat down and as you come up, plant your feet and power your arm up and over your head in  a press movement. Switch arms and repeat.

Perform: 3 sets of 8-12.

Dr. Nicole Lombardo, I’m a Physical therapist, CrossFit Level 1 Coach, From backintelligence.com.

Kettlebell American swings

“This exercise works the anterior deltoids, lats, traps, biceps and triceps,” says Dr. Nicole Lombardo, a physical therapist and CrossFit Level 1 Coach.

How to: Start with your feet slightly wider than hip width apart, kettlebell in your hands, resting at your hips. Hinge your chest forward and hips back. Quickly straighten your hips, which will cause momentum to hoist the kettlebell forward.

The more force and speed you use with your legs and hips, the higher the kettlebell will swing. Then, after the kettlebell cannot go any higher, your arms take over from here, bringing the kettlebell overhead.

Modifications: You can just swing the kettlebell to eye level. This modification is best for beginners or anyone with shoulder pain.

Perform: 3 sets of 8-12.

KB Single Arm Clean and Press

According to Bryna Carracino, lifestyle + fitness coach and creator of REHAB and founding trainer  of beRevolutionarie, this exercises works your triceps, biceps, and shoulders.

How to: Start with the kettlebell in front of you and grab the kettlebell with one hand.

Drive through heels pulling the elbow up to the ceiling, flip the kettlebell over into a rack position then press the kettlebell  up overhead into a press.

Bring the kettlebell back down to the floor. Reset. Repeat for time or reps. Switch sides.

Modification: take the first two fingers of the opposite side and help guide the kb up to a full press.

Perform: 3 sets of 8-12.

Alternate KB curl

Fauci recommends this one to work your biceps.

How to: Hold a kettlebell in each hand. Standing tall and strong so that your body does not swing, curl one kettlebell into the body to feel a squeeze in the bicep. Return to start then repeat with the other arm. Alternate arms until you have completed 8-12 reps on each arm.

Perform: 3 sets of 8-12 per arm.

Single Arm KB Snatch 

According to Kline, this effective exercise hits your traps, back, core, and shoulders.

How to: Standing shoulder width apart, bend at the knees to grab the kettlebell with one hand. While standing up from your squat you are simultaneously grabbing the kettlebell and bringing it up to chest height before you slightly twist your wrist so that the kettlebell is resting on your forearm and completely extend it into the air.

Bend the elbow and the knees to go back into the squat position, bringing the kettlebell back to the ground. Switch hands and repeat. 

Perform: 3 sets of 8-12 per arm.

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