There are advantages to using kettlebells over dumbbells and barbells. Mechanically, the Bicep Curl is not a natural movement that the biceps respond to for growth. A rotation at the forearm, as if you’re tightening or loosening a screw with a screwdriver, is a more natural movement that will build more muscle.
Kettlebell Arm Exercises
The Kettlebell Clean is a compound movement that uses a great deal of hip drive and engages the quads and traps as well as the biceps. It allows you to use a heavier weight than an isolated movement.
Bend your arm 90 degrees at the elbow. Rotate your forearm as if you’re using a screwdriver. Notice the kinetic response. The biceps shorten and lengthen without any resistance. This is the movement you’ll use with the Kettlebell Clean.
To start, set your feet with your toes pointed out wide enough that two bells can easily pass through your legs.
Both bells should be in a low position, hanging at arm’s length.
Drive your butt back and swing the bells through your legs, creating momentum and loading your hips. Maintain a flat back, with your chest out and your gaze forward.
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For an explosive hip extension, stand straight up and pull the bells up your body, rotating your forearms until your palms face your chest. The kettlebells should rotate around your forearm, not flip over the tops of your fists. The finish position has you in rack (thumbs in the throat ) with your glutes squeezed tight and your hips locked forward, positioned under the load.To repeat the movement, rotate your palms away from your chest and allow the bells to drop down your body, using your legs to control the descent. The momentum from the drop will swing the kettlebells through your legs to start another repetition.
Here are variations you can add for complete arm development:
- Truck Drivers (overhead triceps extension).
- Close-Grip “W” Push-Ups. Form a W with your hands on the floor with your elbows tight to the body.
- Drag Curl. With both hands on the bell, drag it up along a center line without shrugging. Your elbows should flare. Finish point is slightly below the chest.
- 10 Double Cleans
- 10 Truck Drivers
- 10 Drag Curls
- 10 “W” Push-Ups
- Rest 60 Seconds
- 9 Double Cleans
- 9 Truck Drivers
- 9 Drag Curls
- 9 “W” Push-Ups
- Rest 60 seconds
- Continue to ladder down until you hit single reps. Increase your weight as needed.
I’m a big proponent of volume training for the arms. The more blood in the muscle, the more the blood will pump up to promote muscle growth.
When warm weather rolls around, one of my favorite sayings is “Out comes the sun, out comes the guns,” and after all, who doesn’t want muscular arms?