Kettlebell Arm Workouts for Beginners

Kettlebell Arm Workouts for Beginners

Toned arms can really give you that extra edge come beach season. Toning is a combined process of losing body fat to increase definition and building muscle mass - something you can do rather effectively with kettlebells. We take a look at some of the best kettlebell arm workouts for beginners.

The Basics

Kettlebells are solid cannonball-shaped weights with thick handles attached at the top. They’re a little different than conventional dumbbells and barbells, but the training principles behind them are the same - fatigue your muscles and the muscles will break down and build up bigger and stronger. By burning enough calories with kettlebells, you’ll also lose fat. Before you even think about direct arm training though, master the Turkish get up, the swing and the overhead press. Not only do these teach the three fundamental kettlebell movement patterns, they’ll work your arms as well as the rest of your body, allowing your body to burn more calories.

Triceps Exercises

Your triceps will get a lot of work from overhead presses -- either standard overhead presses or bottom-up presses, for which you hold the weight with the bell above the handle. To work the triceps even more, perform extensions. Grab your bell with two hands and hold it above your head; lock your elbows in place, then lower your arms down behind your head until you feel a stretch in your triceps and then forcefully lift the bell back up again. For a real test of strength, try a variety of close-grip push-ups using kettlebells or alternativly try single hand press.

Biceps Exercises

Just as basic kettlebell moves work your triceps, the same goes for your biceps, which work seriously hard during kettlebell cleans and snatches. For an extra biceps boost though, do kettlebell curls. Hold the bell facing away from you with your hands on either side of the handle, tuck your elbows into your sides and curl the bell up as you would a standard dumbbell. To increase the load, try kettlebell pull-ups, which are performed as per standard pull-ups, but your feet are looped through the kettlebell handles. These are not for the faint of heart, however. It is recommended to start slowly with assisted pull-ups and then progressing to body weight reps before finally tackling weighted pull-ups.

Shoulder Exercises

The kettlebell shoulder presses do wonders for your shoulders. To do this, stand straight and keep your feet apart by 14 to 18 inches. Hold a kettlebell in both hands and keep the arms straight at your sides. Start with the right arm and raise the kettebell similar to raising a dumbbell but add a tiny variation. Twist your hands (and the kettlebell) when you reach the chest area and push upward. Imagine doing punches in the air.

When your hands finally reach the top, you have to be not holding the kettlebell with your fingers but instead resting them on your palms. This way, all the weight falls on your shoulders. Keep this position for about a few seconds and repeat the same steps for the left and then the right again and so on. You catch air just before executing the twist and exhale once your arms reach the top. Proper breathing counts a lot in kettlebell shoulder exercises.

Training Plan

Perform three kettlebell workouts each week -- space them one to two days apart. Start each with three staple kettlebell moves-- a swing, some type of press, a get up, a clean-- for which you lift the bell from the floor to your shoulder; and a snatch, which involves taking the bell from the floor to overhead in one swift movement. These are effective for calorie burning in a circuit plan, especially if you perform them in a pulse-raising manner. Change which ones you do to keep your training varied and interesting and perform each for 30 to 60 seconds, only resting at the end of each circuit.

Finish with specific exercises for your triceps and biceps. Complete three to four sets with eight to 15 reps in each. Aim to use a heavier weight or do more sets and reps each workout. The dreaded "D" word also comes into play - diet. You won't get that lean, toned look if you don't also address your eating habits. You need a calorie deficit to burn fat, so reduce your consumption of junk and processed foods and fill up on lean proteins, vegetables and fruits, healthy fats and whole-grains instead.


Here are some beginner guidelines to help you achieve your training, fitness, and performance goals with kettle bell training;

Be Clear on Why You're Training- Know what you're training for and what results you want. In basic terms, are you training for fat loss, muscle building, strength gain, performance enhancement/athletics, general conditioning, or some other reason or goal? If you know what you are training for, you'll be able to have the best program design for your specific goals and you'll be highly motivated to achieve that training goal. The clearer you are on your training goals, the more likely you'll achieve them. I know you already know this, but this is essential.

Learn the right way to train with Kettlebells. The most important thing you can do to maximize your benefits training with kettlebells is learning how to use these dynamic training tools the 'right way.' What is the right way? That's learning from someone who’s skilled in kettlebell training. Kettlebell training is extremely safe, providing you learn how to use them correctly and the ONLY way to do this is from a certified instructor, period. To learn the right way, visit your local HKC or RKC instructor.

Commit, Don't Dabble. To get the full benefits of kettlebell training, commit to learning the skill; don't just "dabble" with it. When you realize how unique the skill is and how much you can benefit, you'll be able meet the fitness goals you want. Commit to it, but I'll warn you this type of training can become addicting. Also, be patient, realize it takes time, but once you really discover it, you'll be hooked.

Understand Kaizen. “Kaizen” is Japanese for continuous improvement. That's exactly what training with kettlebells is. It is continuous improvement. Realize that it takes a long time to master the movements, but that's another added benefit. It would be pretty boring if it were easy to do. You will always be learning and improving on your foundational techniques, that's part of what it so unique and awesome.

Continually Practice the Fundamentals. Essentially, everything is "built" on the fundamentals, such as the kettlebell swing. The better you get at the basic movements (the swing, the turkish get up, the deadlift), the better results you'll get. Also, because the higher level movements are based on the fundamentals. If you want great results with your strength, body composition changes, or performance, continually practice and improve on the fundamental movements.

​These kettle bell arm workouts are perfect for begineers and should set you up for more advanced worouts when you strengh improves.