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We all want big, defined, and aesthetic shoulders, after all, there is nothing more attractive than broad shoulders and a small waist to compliment it. But we are not just here for looks, we want shoulders that are strong but functional and that’s where exercising with kettlebell comes into play. We all have our busy routines, and sometimes, not have enough spare money to dish out loads of equipment.
Whatever your problem might be, kettlebells are your one-stop solution to build bulletproof shoulders and still have the mobility needed to step onto the mat without getting anxious!
Are kettlebells Good For Shoulders?
Shoulder muscles are one of the most important muscles in your body, and people often overcomplicate what it takes to build a solid pair of 3D delts! It requires both mobility and stability. All you need is a proper exercise regime that must be followed till muscular failure in order to ensure proper muscle hypertrophy.
This can easily be availed by conditioning the more endurance-based muscles to form better shoulder alignment around the joint, to build stability. Kettlebell shoulder workouts are a useful method to bring about significant shoulder strength, and create an aesthetic in the shoulder caps.
Kettlebell movements are free-movement exercises, meaning there is so fixed movement path like you would have with a barbell or a machine, which is better for your joints. Dumbbell exercises also have free movements. But the shape and center of gravity of kettlebells make them superior to dumbbells as well.
Kettlebell exercises such as windmills, Turkish Get-ups, and overhead presses are a great application. Just ensure that care is always taken before performing these exercises, such as mastering stability before lifting heavy.
Quick Shoulder Anatomy
The shoulder joint in its entirety consists of three heads, the front, side, and rear delt. All of which are straightforward and easy to train. A 5-6 movement kettlebell shoulder workout is more than enough to efficiently target all three heads in less than 30 minutes.
The front delts are the front part of the shoulder, originating from the clavicle, extending to the humerus, and aiding the chest muscles. The primary purpose of these muscles is to work hand in hand and cause smooth mobility in the shoulders.
The classic overhead press is probably the best kettlebell shoulder exercise there is, which directly works on the front delt at the most favored angle and range of motion. Inclined kettlebell press, front raise, and floor press are also great substitutions for this cause.
Since front delts hold major importance in the movement of the upper body especially gliding your hands in front of your body, it is suggested to work on your front delts. One can combine these different exercises to generate a workout routine.
This is the one part of the shoulder joint that does not need much emphasis, the reason being that the front delt is already trained significantly during chest pressing exercises, especially those with an incline angle.
The lateral delt rests on the sides of your shoulders and is responsible for giving you that broad V-taper shape. The main function of these lateral deltoids is the abduction of the shoulder muscles on the frontal plane, helping to lift the arm up and out to the side.
Exercises like the kettlebell lateral raises are amazing for building the side delts, perform this exercise with high intensity and multiple drop sets till failure. Hitting the side delts at least twice a week, and staying below 20 sets per week, in conclusion, are a good help.
Even though the lateral delts may not be the easiest muscles to build but they can help define your upper body and also give broad and aesthetic shoulders.
The rear delt is a compound muscle working together with the lateral delt and front delt. The rear delts extend the humerus behind you and aid the external rotation movement of the shoulder blade. Although all these 3 muscles work in alignment, the rear delt muscle is often forgotten in the gym.
However, a number of exercises are designed to gain rear deltoid strength and overall stronger shoulders. Exercises like the kettlebell bent over a row and seated position rear delt fly is great for targeting the rear delts.
Using kettlebells for this purpose is extremely beneficial as it helps in gaining strength and muscle mass and improving bone density strength. Rear delt exercise always helps in better posture, stronger shoulders, reduced risk of shoulder injury, and improved looks.
How to Build Bigger Shoulders
Building boulder-like shoulders is not a complicated process, however, by no means should you assume that it is easy. The shoulder joint requires high-intensity training in multiple weights, rep ranges, and angles.
Training all three heads efficiently till muscular failure is absolutely necessary to strengthen your shoulder joint and also create muscle hypertrophy in the shoulders. Make sure to use a variety of exercises with different equipment and weights.
Training hard using super sets and drop sets is also an important aspect of building a pair of huge delts.
Why Big Shoulders Matter
Shoulders have routine importance in our lives in being able to lift everyday objects and carry out daily tasks. Aesthetically, a good upright posture is well dished out to us as a standard and broad huge shoulders particularly fit clothes well bringing about a better look.
Wide shoulders make one look more desirable by broadening the frame of your upper body. A strong upper body and shoulder health, primarily the broad shoulders indicates better strength and health. Apart from easily executing everyday tasks, one is very unlikely to suffer injuries.
How to Pick the Right Size Kettlebell
More often than not people assume that 5 or 10-lb kettlebells are good enough for a beginner kettlebell workout. However, this is not at all the case if you go too light you are simply wasting your time going through the movements. If you go too heavy, you risk getting injured as you sacrifice form.
It is very important to safely challenge yourself; to do so you must pick a decent weight to work out with. The sweet spot for most kettlebell workouts for most women is 10-25-lb kettlebells, and for men, it’s 25-45 lbs. Anything under this, and you probably won’t break a sweat using them and you’ll just be doing the movements with no real benefits.
The right size for you may also depend on your age, weight, and fitness experience. However, it should be noted that if you choose the right size for you, you will gain all the benefits in the quickest and most efficient manner, that too with the lowest risk of injury.
As you work with kettlebells, you will need the increasing body demand of taking up heavier weights. The right mind of your kettlebell training, weight selection and the appropriate accommodation of these in your workout routine can boost your skill and strength level.
14 Kettlebell Shoulder Exercises You Can Do Anywhere
Kettlebell Kneeling Press
Kettlebell kneeling press is an excellent variation of the kettlebell shoulder press exercise that works not only the shoulder muscles but also strengthens the core to its maximum. One is required to withdraw one knee in front so now you’re left with the muscle coordination focusing more on balance.
Forming a kneeling position, lunge one leg ahead of you. Clutching the kettlebell in one hand, drive the kettlebell in an imaginary line from the floor to the ceiling. In an extended position, run the kettlebell in a familiar trace of floor to ceiling.
This exercise will challenge your pressing strength and generate core strength to its fullest. Joint muscles found in the chest, shoulders as well as triceps are worked as a result. The deltoid muscles, specifically, are targeted to develop strength and stability in the hips and shoulder joints.
Kettlebell Shoulder Push Press
This exercise is essential in promoting strength and stability in the upper body, uplifting a healthy physique and posture altogether. One has open choices to choose between single or double-handed shoulder push press, and various pressing strengths in jerk or push press.
To perform this exercise, keep your torso upright and the kettlebell above your body. Bend through your knees, drive the kettlebell through your legs, and hold it overhead. Bring it back to your shoulders and repeat as per requirement.
This exercise has numerous benefits, including that it trains not just the entirety of your shoulders but also your triceps, traps, and also your core muscles. This not only activates most of the muscles in the body, but also improves overhead strength, and develops better alignment throughout the body.
It conditions the shoulders as well. The core muscles work in pair with the buttocks to prepare a strong base for the movement of the rest of the body.
Single-Arm Kettlebell Swing
The Single-Arm Kettlebell Swing is a closed kinetic swing owing to the fact that the feet remain firmly planted on the ground throughout the entire movement. Although this is essentially a lower-body exercise, the single-arm kettlebell swing is great for increasing mobility in the upper body, especially the shoulders.
This is an excellent form of exercise for new gym goers because of its simplicity yet its dynamic nature in movement. Simple steps involving standing upright with the kettlebell, held in the right hand and the left hand extended out of the body must be maintained.
Next, swing your kettlebell backward between your legs. Standing straight from this hunched position, swing the kettlebell in front of your chest by thrusting with your glutes. Now, repeat with your adjacent hand.
Muscles trained include the hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, and the abdominal muscles are also engaged during this activity. The benefits include: increasing demand on shoulder stabilizer muscles, improving core-anti-rotational muscles, and drastically improving grip strength.
Straight Arm Overhead Kettlebell Hold
Again, this exercise is suggested for beginners because of its simple nature. Although, this does require pre muscle conditioning of shoulder stabilizer muscles so make sure you warm up with some dynamic stretching before going heavy on this movement.
Keeping your posture upright and torso straight, swing the kettlebell down. Bend the hips into a half kneeling position, so that the forearms easily glide through the inner thighs. Continue this motion of swinging.
The benefits include better cardiorespiratory fitness, stronger posterior chain, greater explosiveness, and power, and also acts as a full body workout. With all these benefits, one cannot overlook this easy effective form of exercise.
Single-Arm Kettlebell Z Press
This Z press exercise works in strengthening the shoulder muscles. This works by taking the lower leg out of movement so the emphasis drops to the push of the shoulder.
Start this exercise by forming a sitting position on the floor with the legs slightly parted. Grasp the kettlebell into a racked position, now press the bell overhead so the arms are extended and elbows locked out. Repeat these movements for the assigned number of reps.
Major benefits gained from this are improvement in muscular imbalances, development in core stability, and building strength. As an accessory benefit, the Z press will definitely help with stability and strength in overhead presses.
Kettlebell High Pull
This variation of kettlebell exercise can be very dynamic, extremely cardiovascular, fast, and can be hard at first but nurtured at time.
Start off by hunching down with your knees bent as you grasp the kettlebell between your legs. Stretch to the standing position as the kettlebell remains held, being pulled upwards. Continue lifting the kettlebell until it reaches the chest.
Benefits include full body conditioning, posture improvement, increased cardiovascular strength, and calorie burning. The muscles such as the trapezius, rhomboid, and abdominal muscles are worked to a high extent.
The Kettlebell Snatch is an advanced kettlebell workout that works the entire body. It develops the entire posterior chain of the body along with building strength, power, and coordination in the shoulder joint.
Stand upright and grab the kettlebell ahead of you as you swing it between your legs. Raise the kettlebell to your shoulder level, plane and then finally overhead without bringing the weight into the racked position. Repeat this motion until necessary.
Kettlebell Snatch develops power, acts as a vigorous cardio exercise, and develops core stability. In daily routine, this helps in flawless mobility and also reduces injuries.
Kettlebell windmills are a complex exercise that is traditionally used in CrossFit. It requires reasonable stability and strength.
Easy steps involve standing with your feet shoulder width apart and the kettlebell overhead, held single-handedly as you turn one of your legs out. Start bending towards your stretched-out leg as your kettlebell rises over the shoulder, continue this progression until you are able to touch your toes. Continue these reps as per requirement.
This exercise results in strengthening your lats and improving shoulder mobility and shoulder stability. Hip mobility and hamstring flexibility are also improved. In addition, visible strengthening of the glutes and core muscles is observed.
Kettlebell Upright Row
This variation of a kettlebell workout is a multi-joint, upper-body exercise. Perhaps, the best one is because of its ability to develop shoulder and back muscles and works the shoulder complex and elbow joint. However, it does come with the unfortunate risk of elbow injury if not executed safely.
Flex your knees as you stand with a straight back. Flex your elbows with the kettlebell clasped in hand until you reach the same level as your chin. Observe a moment or so in this position, until you finally reverse drop it to the start position. Continue these reps as required.
This effective, powerful, and dynamic nature of kettlebell exercise brings about major changes in the shoulder, rhomboid, and bicep muscles with increased muscle strength and growth, stability and conditioning, and arm power.
If you’re looking for a full-body exercise that leaves you gasping for breath as you hit every muscle of your body, then Kettlebell Thrusters have got you covered! This is an advanced skill, taken as an influence from both kettlebell squats and overhead presses.
Grasp the kettlebell double-handedly to your shoulders, in a standing position, and turn about your wrists. Perform a low squat, then bring about pressure as you stand back up. At the same time, press the two kettlebells overhead. The momentum from the squat will help you to bring the weights up.
In summary, the benefits attained from the kettlebell thrusters are conditioning over 600 muscles, extreme cardio exercise, and developing explosive movements for both sports and combats.
Kettlebell Clean & Press
Kettlebell Clean and Press is a compound exercise, responsible for developing strength, muscle, and power. This powerhouse of a move, when engaged in your workout routine enhances the integrity of mobility and provides unmatched strength.
Perform this exercise by holding the kettlebell as you bend down and then launch it up and finally switch to clean and press position. Perform an overhead press and bring the kettlebell down to the rack position.
The movement in itself is rich in benefits, as every component provides strength, unilateral power, and better coordination. It also develops overhead strength and stability and produces explosive power in the hips.
Double Kettlebell Military Press
One would find themselves very pressed to search for a more potent upper-strengthening exercise. The beauty of this exercise is that it focuses not only on shoulder strengthening but the entire body as a whole.
To begin this exercise, start by clean pressing the kettlebells to your shoulders, press them out, and up until overhead. Finish off by bringing it back to the inward shoulder position. Repeat this exercise as per the required reps.
Regardless of the position you perform this movement in, whether you are in a standing or sitting position, this exercise trains your entire upper body and also a part of your posterior chain like the lower back and glutes if done in a standing position. This compound movement is perfect for training your shoulder muscles hard allowing you to increase your strength and also pack some muscle mass.
Kettlebell Lateral Raises
The Lateral Raises have a unique and challenging implementation of exercise, the muscles are worked in a hardcore manner by the uneven distribution of weight as it lies below the handle and one has to exert to keep up with the balance.
This movement is undoubtedly the pinnacle of shoulder exercises for the lateral head. A wise man once said “Spam lateral raises for Greek god delts”, that man definitely this not lie. This single movement is the solution to get a V-taper with shoulder width as wide as a Boeing 747!
You can easily execute this exercise by selecting a desired range of weight and elevating it to the shoulder plane. Now, all you have to do is gently drop the weight with your stretched arm in its initial starting position, and viola-you’re ready for more reps.
A gymgoer can easily define a series of shoulder progressions through this exercise e.g. broader, powerful bulky shoulders. The mobility rises by a smooth instance and the upper arms also appear rounder and wider.
Kettlebell Seesaw Press
Looking for an alternative to Kettlebell overhead presses? Kettlebell Seesaw Press is an excellent option. However, its convenience does not pay ease to its advancement.
This might be an intermediate level of exercise but with the help of adequate guidelines, is easy to execute. Start with double-cleaning a pair of kettlebells to the rack position. Maintaining a square stature press up with one kettlebell. Pull one kettlebell down subsequently, and press up with the other bell so that they meet in the middle.
A variety of beneficial qualities are achieved, for an instant, the deltoids are strengthened to their capacity, movement is controlled and the core is maximized to its strength. With all these properties, a seesaw press mixes up its upper body training.
Can you Build Your Shoulders With Kettlebells
Yes! A kettlebell shoulder workout about twice a week over a decent amount of time will help you cross the stepping stones of building a beautiful pair of huge 3D delts.
All you need is a pair of kettlebells, a lightweight kettlebell, and a heavy-weight kettlebell. This is more than enough to help you achieve all your shoulder joint-related goals.
Train hard, go heavy, and use proper form in different rep ranges, ranges of motions, and rest periods. Make sure you get adequate rest in between sessions for maximum efficiency and proper recovery.
“If I Have Bad Shoulders, Should I Use Kettlebells?”
When someone says they have bad shoulder muscles, it is likely because of low mobility or a past injury. Whatever the case, kettlebells will bring many benefits and allow for an efficient and safe flow of hypertrophy for injury rehab.
If the problem is not being able to use a long and complete range of motion, then once again kettlebells will save the day. Kettlebells are great for increasing mobility, flexibility, and range of motion during exercises.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Why Kettlebells, Not Dumbbells?
Although both pieces of equipment have free ranges of motion during exercises which is great for your joints. Kettlebells take the cake because of their shape, the center of gravity is far more comfortable for your wrists which makes them less prone to injury.
Do kettlebell swings work out shoulders?
Kettlebell swings are not really a great shoulder exercise. Although they do increase and strengthen shoulder mobility and overall shoulder movement, there are many other options available that are far superior in terms of efficiently training your shoulders with kettlebells.
How often should you train shoulders?
With kettlebells, it is recommended to do a full body workout not more than thrice a week, however, if you use other equipment and are looking to incorporate kettlebells into your fitness routine for the benefits, you should train your delts more than twice a week. The reason is that all your muscles require adequate rest, i.e. at least 48 hours between sessions.
How do I Increase Shoulder mobility?
If your goal is to increase shoulder mobility without breaking the bank, best kettlebell shoulder exercises and workouts have got you covered! Kettlebell shoulder exercises are great for increasing mobility with minimal equipment and in a short period of time.
Exercises like the overhead press and kettlebell windmill are amazing movements to target and strengthen this area.