Kettlebell Exercises - Arms Edition

Let's great right into it and breakdown some of my favorite kettlebell arm exercises.

I'm going to focus on mainly the arms... so areas like:

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    A little of the delts (shoulders)

I'm not going to go to much into the back of your shoulders (traps and shoulder blades) since I consider that more of your upper back.

I happen to have a great post of kettlebell back exercises ... you should check that out.

What are we waiting for?

Let's break these exercises down.

Kettlebell Exercises For Your Arms

Rack Hold

Kindal holding and squeezing the kettlebell hard.

Holding a heavy kettlebell for as long as you can is amazing for your delts and your shoulders too.

But your anterior (front) delts will have a huge role in supporting the heavy weight.

This is not enough... let's tweak it so it hits your arms hard.

Squeeze the handle of the kettlebell hard.

Immediately you'll notice your arms flexes.

And now you're in an endurance situation where you're training your body to stay flexed for a period of time.

How long?

However long you can last. The longer you last... the more endurance you'll have and the stronger you'll get.

How heavy?

As heavy as you can go without posture breakdown. But start lighter because I want you to go for a long period of time squeezing... rather than just heavy.

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Be aware when holding a flex for a period of time.

It's possible a muscle might cramp or get slightly tweaked out because you're sqeezing so hard.

It's always a good idea to NOT push to your breaking point here.

Take you're time getting stronger with squeezes... there's no rush.

Farmers Carry

Kindal holding a heavy kettlebell at farmers carry style.
Kindal holding two HEAVY kettlebells in farmers carry.

One of my favorites and one of the best arm exercises... period.

You need a heavy kettlebell to make this worth it.

It's simple... just hold your kettlebell like a suitcase and stand with near perfect posture.

Your power pose.

But guess what?

Don't just hold the kettlebell... squeeze the handle really hard.

Immediately you're arms will light up... and now you just hold and squeeze.

What I love about kettlebell farmers carry is the focus on grip strength.

You never hear too many people talking about grip strength... but grip strength will revolutionize your strength training.

A stronger grip makes all exercises easier to do... exercises like...

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    Almost every other kettlebell exercise come to think of it!

intensity tip

The ultimate grip strength test is hanging from a bar.

I like to hang as long as possible. I don't think there is a thing as too much in this case.

Try to get over a minute as a minimum.

You'd be surprised to see many women can't hand for 10 seconds.

Plus hanging is incredibly good for your shoulder joint. If you have shoulder pain... add in hanging to your daily routine and I bet your pain will slowly melt away.

We will cover bar and pullup exercises later!

Farmers Towel Carry

Kindal holding a kettlebell farmers carry with a towel through the handle.

I know what you're thinking...

"Kindal... I want to do farmers carry but I don't have a heavy kettlebell. What can I do?"

I got you covered!

Go grab an old t-shirt or dish towel.

Place it through the handle of your kettlebell and hold the towel as you let the kettlebell rest at your side.

OMG... this is grip strength to the max!

It's insanely tough. It applies a sheering force your fingers and grip... something just holding a kettlebell can't do.

So you're grip and your forearms will get an amazing workout with this variation.

Over Head Hold

Kindal holding a kettlebell over her head for a long period of time.
Kindal holding two kettlebells over her head.

Let's change things up and give your grip and rest.

Over head kettlebell holds are so simple and yet so good for your delts.

I usually tell my clients to grab a lighter kettlebell for this... it can be tough to push press a heavy kettlebell over your head.

And when you're arm is fatigued... it can be tough getting that heavy kettlebell down from over your head.

So lighter is usually safer.

But this also means you'll have to hold for a longer period of time to get your delts to fatigue.

You should know what's coming by now...

Rather than just hold the kettlebell over your head... squeeze it!

You'll feel the difference... and rather than fatiguing you faster... when the kettlebell is over your head... this normally helps you hold longer.

Inverted Kettlebell

Kindal holding a kettlebell rack position but inverted.

So we're going to hold a...

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    Rack hold

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    Over head hold

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    Dynamic kettlebell cleans

With inversion!

This isn't a new exercise... it's a way to make some of the exercises on our list harder and even more targeted to your arms.

Remember how I said to squeeze the handle of the kettlebell?

I've only said it like five times already.

Now I'm going to put you in a position that will force your to squeeze the handle really hard.

It's inverting the kettlebell.

Whether you're holding the kettlebell in...

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    Over your head

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    Or dynamically cleaning the kettlebell to an inverted hold

You'll have to squeeze hard or the kettlebell will just flop over in your hand.

Start light.

This is not easy at all... but you will feel your arms light up!

Palm Balance

Kindal holding a kettlebell in her palm.

Make sure you go outside for this one... just in case you drop the kettlebell.

This is easy to explain but hard to do... especially as you go heavier with your bells.

It's similar to holding the kettlebell in rack... but your're going to hold your ball in the palm of your hand.

This takes balance and strength through your arms and shoulders.

For stability you'll immediately feel your arm engage... almost as if you are squeezing. It's a theme!

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    Aim for 30 seconds...

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    Then 60 seconds...

Once you get good... aim for balancing two kettlebells. Getting them into this position takes some practice.

Kettlebell Snatches

Kindal in the hinge part of the kettlebell snatch.
Kindal in the transition part of the kettlebell snatch.
Kindal at the top of the kettlbell snatch fully extending through her shoulder.

Switching gears again...

The good old kettlebell snatch is a great arm exercise. But you have to go heavy to really get the most from this.

As you're securing the kettlebell over your head your shoulders and delts are doing a lot of the stabilization work.

When I do a lot of kettlebell snatches... I always feel sore in my shoulders the next day... especially my delts.

I won't go into an in-depth on how to do the kettlebell snatch here . I have a blog post on how to do the kettlebell snatch.

Make sure your form is on point before you start going heavy.

Kettlebell Bicep Curl

Kindal at the bottom of the kettlebell curl.
Kindal showing the kettlebell curl offset that makes it so tough.
Kindal squeezing at the top of the kettlebell curl.

This is my favorite variation of bicep curls... you'll see why in a second.

Step 1

Hold the kettlebell upside down at chest level. Your still holding the kettlebell by the handle.

Step 2

Hinge from your elbows and go all the way down until your arms are straight.

Then just return.

Here's why this is tougher.

When you're hinging down... the bell of the kettlebell is going to pull harder as you get lower.

The builk of the kettlebell (the bell) is out further from the hinge point. This is a huge offset you will feel.

So the exercise gets tougher the lower you go... and it's tough to curl the weight back up.

This offset also causes you to naturally squeeze the kettlebell... and you know now... squeezing is always good for your arm muslces.

Real fast...

Another version to activate your grip more... kettlebell curls with a towel!

Kindal at the bottom of kettlebell curl with a towel.
Kindal at the top of the kettlebell curl with a towel.
intensity tip

Using a kettlebell let's you go to the next level with combinations compared to dumbbells. (Although some of these you can do with dumbbells.)

Before you do a kettlebell curl... go down into a deep squat and curl there.

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    Do a halo and then go into a curl.

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    Do a swing to curl combo... 6 light swings... 6 curls.

You can do so much without ever putting the kettlebell down and things can feed right back into the kettlebell curl.

Floor Tricep Extensions

Kindal at the top of the kettlebell floor tricep extension.
Kindal at the bottom of the floor tricep extensions.

This is a classic exercise you can easily do with a kettlebell.

This exercise is traditionally called skull crushers... typical I guess given the history of weight lifting.

Either way... it's a great exercise for your triceps.

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Okay... if you're like most women (anybody really) your triceps are tight... and this can cause some elbow discomfort when you do these extensions.

Go grab your trigger balls... I like the small Jill Miller blue trigger ball of this one...

And take 30 seconds to roll your triceps and right behind your elbow.

Kindal rolling elbow and triceps.

You might be surprised how much this hurts. If so... add it in daily.

Step 1

Lay on the floor with one kettlebell extended over your chest.

Make sure your thumbs are through the handle of your kettlebell. This will secure it when you're in the loaded position.

Step 2

You're only going to hinge at your elbows. So your upper arms will stay perpendicular to the ground.

Hinge at your elbows and lower the weight to your head until your forearms are parallel to the ground.

Step 3

Return to start and squeeze your arms a little to flex your triceps.

Then just repeat and listen to your elbows.

Kettlebell Plank

Kindal doing a kettlebell plank.

I love this version of the plank. It's hard to do during Fit Women's Weekly LIVE workouts because you need a kettlebell with a round side.

If you need help picking kettlebells... go read my post on discovering which kettlebell is right for you .

Start with just two kettlebells.

Step 1

Lay your two kettlebells on the ground... round side down.

We will start with your hands on the kettlebells first.

Step 2

Get into a top of the pushup plank.

And when you're in position... roll the kettlebell handles off the ground so you're balancing on only the round side of the bell.


This is a little tough on your wrists so make sure you listen to that... but it gets better as your wrists get stronger.

Flip To Your Feet

Kindal doing a kettlebell plank with feet on the kettlebells.
Kindal doing a kettlebell plank with only one foot on the kettlebell.

This is going to be harder.

Step 1

Place your feet on the kettlebells... round side still down.

Step 2

Get into your top of pushup plank... and roll the handles off the ground with yoru feet.


Both of these will have your entire body flexed like you've not felt before.

To stay balanced you will need to...

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    Twist your hands into the ground hard for balance.

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    Push through your shoulders hard and stay tight.

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    Lock your legs out to keep your body stiff so it can balance better.

You will love these plank variations...

They are actually tougher on your arms than they are on your abs.

Plus there are variations like:

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    Rather than two kettlebells... only use one.

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    Use four kettlebells for both your arms and your feet.

Kindal doing a kettlebell plank with arms and feet on kettlebells.

Ready for STRONG Arms?

This is more than enough to get you started.

Arm strength is important for women... it's where we lack the most strength.

But this will help you build a good base so you can start doing more difficult exercises like handstands... hangs... pullups and more.

Make sure you checkout our other kettlebell posts:

We have a lot and if you have any questions... make sure you go join Fit Women's Weekly LIVE 14 day free Reset Training Plan .

There you can get personalized training help with programs designed to achieve specific results.

Follow me on my social accounts and talk to me. I always respond back to help you!

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