Best Kettlebell Shoulder Workout – plus exercises and three complete workouts

Table of Contents

Nice strong shoulders look great and are the “cornerstones” of an athletic upper body. That is the reason why most people look for the right shoulder workouts – simply to build great shoulders.

But actually, our shoulders are more than that. They play a crucial role in our everyday life and those of us, who already had a shoulder injury know to which extent a dysfunctional shoulder affects us. If you already had shoulder surgery, you might have been working on regaining shoulder stability and shoulder mobility together with your physical therapist.

Another reason why you should look into kettlebell training for your shoulders could be an existing problem with your posture.

In our everyday life, we are often forced into unnatural positions for a longer period of time, causing us to develop bad posture. This is especially true if you have a desk job. Kettlebell exercises can help to improve your posture by working on the muscles that are responsible for it – and the kettlebell shoulder workout is a great way to start.

female athlete with kettlebell
Related

Kettlebell Back Workout

15 Kettlebell Exercises For A Strong And Healthy Back

Kettlebell Back Workout

 

Shoulder strengthening exercises are especially good for you if you already suffer from :

  • hunched back or “text neck”: This issue occurs when your head is leaned forward as a result of working on a computer or through elongated periods of using your cell phone.
  • “rounded shoulders”: This is often a result of poor posture, but can also be caused by muscle imbalances. Very often you will find rounded shoulders in sports that concentrate largely on chest musculature. Swimmers for example often show this posture. Additionally, you can often find athletes in sports that force them into a hunched-over position like cyclists.

So maybe you found this article because you want to work on improving your posture?

However, you have come to a point where you found out that kettlebell training is one of the best ways to train your shoulders. Well – you are right!

Let´s have a look at how our shoulders work and how kettlebell training helps to build bulletproof shoulders.

The shoulder is a complex joint that plays a vital role in our everyday lives. It is the most movable joint in the body and is responsible for a wide range of motions, including abduction (lifting your arm out to the side), extension (reaching up above your head), flexion (bringing your arm down in front of you), and rotation (turning your hand from palm-down to palm-up).

Shoulder stability and shoulder mobility are both needed at the same time. Building muscle only is just half the battle – you also have to work on shoulder mobility.

The great thing about kettlebell shoulder exercises is that you will get both at once!

athlete with kettlebell working out

In order to keep our shoulders healthy and strong, it is important to perform regular shoulder workouts and kettlebells are an excellent tool for shoulder workouts, as they provide resistance in all planes of motion.

Compared to dumbells where the center of their mass lies in line with our forearm, kettlebells have the mass offset, which challenges our stabilizer muscles much more.

Kettlebells are available in a wide range of weights, so you can gradually increase the load as your strength and endurance improve.

In this article, we will discuss the best kettlebell exercises for strengthening and toning the shoulders.

femal athlete with strong shoulders

Our Shoulders

As we already heard, our shoulders are a very complex system of muscles, joints, and tendons. In order to understand how to best train them, we first need to take a look at their anatomy.

The shoulder is made up of three bones: the clavicle (collarbone), the scapula (shoulder blade), and the humerus (upper arm bone). These bones are connected by a network of muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

The muscles that make up the shoulder girdle include the trapezius, deltoid, supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, subscapularis, and pectoralis major.

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis) that attach the humerus to the scapula and stabilize the shoulder joint.

The deltoid muscle is the large, triangular muscle that covers the shoulder joint. It is responsible for lifting the arm away from the body (abduction), as well as bringing the arm back down (adduction).

Check out this absolutely amazing explanation of how our shoulder works:

Why Should We Care?

Having strong and healthy shoulders is important for many reasons. First and foremost, they play a vital role in our everyday lives. From picking up a child to reaching for a glass on a high shelf, we rely on our shoulders for a wide range of motions.

Additionally, strong shoulders can help to improve our posture, fix muscle imbalances and alleviate pain in the lower back and neck. And last but not least, toned shoulders look great!

What can kettlebells do for our shoulders?

Kettlebell exercises frequently incorporate movements that take you through several planes of motion and broad ranges of motion, allowing you to improve your shoulder mobility as well as its strength across all movement activities.

Kettlebells offer tremendous delt development, as they target exercises such as overhead presses, bottoms up presses, and snatches. Because of the way they are designed, the load placement, and simply how they are utilized, they need increased stability demands that automatically work your rotator cuff complex into shape.

Kettlebells have a lot of potential for shoulder health because they provide strength, mobility and stability, resulting in general shoulder durability.

However, make sure to use kettlebells the right way! If you have no experience in kettlebell workouts, it is recommended to seek guidance from a kettlebell instructor or certified personal trainer before attempting any of the following exercises.

beautiful female athlete doing kettlebell squats
shoulder to overhead header
Related

How To: Shoulder To Overhead – Tips, Variations, And Benefits

Shoulder To Overhead

Kettlebell shoulder exercises

Below you will find a list of kettlebell exercises that will require you to work multiple muscles, use full range of motion and shoulder extension.

Most of them will include overhead movements.

For example, pressing overhead with one arm necessitates that you keep your arms straight, maintain your core stable, your glutes tight and at the same time stabilize your shoulder.

The movement patterns of these kettlebell exercises also help to strengthen your back muscles and will finally help to reduce back pain as well as shoulder pain in most cases.

Kettlebell Halo

  • The kettlebell halo is a great exercise for strengthening the rotator cuff muscles, as well as improving shoulder mobility and neck mobility.
  • To do this exercise, start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and holding a kettlebell close to your chest with both hands.
  • From here, raise the kettlebell overhead and circle it around your head.
  • Keep your core engaged and be sure not to arch your back or lean to one side.
  • Reverse the direction and repeat on the other side.

Kettlebell Turkish Get Up

The kettlebell Turkish get-up is a full-body exercise that not only strengthens the shoulder girdle but also improves core stability and hip mobility.

  • To do this exercise, start by lying on your back with a kettlebell in your right hand.
  • Press the kettlebell straight overhead, then roll onto your left side and use your left hand to support your head.
  • From here, push yourself up into a seated position while keeping the kettlebell in an overhead press position.
  • Stand up, then reverse the movement and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat on the other side.
Illustration of Kettlebell Turkish Get Up
Illustration of Kettlebell Turkish Get Up

Straight One Arm Overhead Kettlebell Hold

The straight one arm overhead kettlebell hold is a perfect exercise for strengthening the shoulder muscles and improving shoulder stability.

  • To do this exercise, start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, keep your core tight, and don´t lean back. Hold your kettlebell in the front rack position.
  • Bring your kettlebell into the overhead position by either using a strict shoulder press or a kettlebell push jerk.
  • Hold your kettlebell in the overhead position and by doing so, keep your elbow locked out. Try to hold your shoulder back and down – always away from your head and ear!
  • Hold your kettlebell in this position for 30 seconds, then change to the other arm.
illustration of stright arm overhead kettlebell hold
overhead squats header
Related

Face Your Deficiencies With Overhead Squats

Face Your Deficiencies With Overhead Squats

Kettlebell strict press

The kettlebell strict press is an excellent exercise for strengthening the shoulder muscles. It also works your triceps and core.

  • To do this exercise, start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, keep your core tight, and don´t lean back. Hold your kettlebell in the front rack position.
  • Press the kettlebell overhead in a straight-up motion, keeping your elbows close to your sides.
  • Lower the kettlebells back down to your shoulders and repeat.
illustration of kettlebell strict press

Kettlebell clean

The kettlebell clean is a kettlebell exercise that strengthens your shoulder muscles, as well as the legs, hips, and core.

  • To do this exercise, start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and a kettlebell in one hand. Hinge at your hips and bend your knees to lower your kettlebell down between your legs.
  • From here, explosively drive through your legs and hips to stand up tall and swing the kettlebell up to shoulder height.
  • As the kettlebell reaches shoulder height, rotate your hand so that the kettlebell ends up in the front rack position.
  • Lower the kettlebell back down to the starting position and repeat the Kettlebell Clean on the other side.
Illustration of kettlebell clean

Kettlebell snatch

The kettlebell snatch is a full-body exercise that strengthens the shoulder muscles, as well as the legs, hips, and core.

  • To do this exercise, start in a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart and a kettlebell in one hand.
  • Hinge at your hips and bend your knees to lower your kettlebell down between your legs.
  • From here, explosively drive through your legs and hips to stand up tall and swing the kettlebell up overhead.
  • As the kettlebell reaches shoulder height, rotate your hand so that the kettlebell ends up in the overhead position.
  • Lower the kettlebell back down to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
illustration of kettlebell snatch
athlete performing an american style kettlebell swing
Related

The Best Kettlebell Ab Exercises To Target Your Obliques

Kettlebell Ab Exercises

Kettlebell windmill

The kettlebell windmill is another fantastic exercise for strengthening the shoulders, as well as improving mobility in the thoracic spine and hips.

This is a rather advanced exercise. If you have never done the windmill before, you may want to start without any weight at all.

  • Start in a standing position with your feet about double shoulder-width apart. Feet turned outwards by about 45 degrees.
  • Take a firm grip on the kettlebell with your right hand and extend the arm over your head with your right palm facing forward.
  • Extend the left arm out in front of your left thigh.
  • Bend your hips and follow with your left hand down your leg until you reach your ankle. During this movement keep your eyes on the kettlebell at all times.
  • You might find that this movement needs a lot of mobility in your hips. If you are unable to reach your ankle, you may bend your left knee a little.
  • Reverse back to an upright position.
  • Repeat five times then switch sides.
illustration of kettlebell windmill

Kettlebell Seated Press

The kettlebell seated press is a great exercise for strengthening the shoulder stabilising muscles, as well as the core.

  • To do this exercise, start by sitting on the ground with your legs straight and open at an angle of about 90 degrees.
  • Hold a kettlebell in the front rack position
  • From here, do an overhead press to bring the kettlebell with one arm straight overhead with your elbow close to your body.
  • Then slowly lower the kettlebell back to its initial position.
  • Repeat five times then do the same again with the opposite side.
illustration of kettlebell seated press

Kettlebell Overhead Lunge

This kettlebell exercise is a combination of the Straight Arm Overhead Kettlebell Hold and classic Lunges.

  • Start with the same position as in the Straight Arm Overhead Kettlebell Hold and once again bring the kettlebell above your head with an overhead press, palms facing forward, arms straight.
  • From here make a lunge step forward (if you are holding the kettlebell with your right arm, make a right forward lunge) until you end up in a half kneeling position.
  • From here stand back up and repeat five times.
  • Then change to the opposite side.

The additional lunge forces you out of a comfortable two-legged stance. And this requires you to put even more effort into the stabilization of your one arm holding the kettlebell overhead.

Plus, your core also has more work to do in the whole process. Just perfect!

illustration of kettlebell overhead lunge

Why no Kettlebell Swing?

You might ask why I didn´t put the Kettlebell Swing on the list of kettlebell shoulder exercises. The answer is quite easy : the Swing is not really a shoulder exercise!

The beginner might think that the kettlebell swing is all about the shoulders. But it´s not! The swing is a hip-hinge movement pattern and works mostly your posterior chain muscles (glutes, hamstrings) with some involvement of your lats (back muscles).

The kettlebell swing will help you build a strong and powerful backside. But if you want to focus on your shoulders specifically, kettlebell swings are not the way to go.

However the use of the Kettlebell Swing for warmup is a great idea to get your muscles activated for the upcoming kettlebell shoulder workout!

athlete doing kettlebell swing

3 Kettlebell Workouts that are good for your shoulders AND kick start your metabolism!

 

Note: Always do a proper warm-up before starting any exercises with heavy weights!

1) The Ladder

This is one of those kettlebell workouts that will not only give your shoulders a really tough workout, it will also boost your heart rate and thus help you burn fat like crazy.

Male beginner athletes could choose to go with a 12kg to 16kg kettlebell. Advanced men can use 20kg to 28kg for this workout.

Female beginners start with 8kg to 12kg and advanced ladies can go with 16kg or even 20kg.

This workout is called “The Ladder” because in every round you are going to gradually increase reps.

The exercises used are :

  • Single Arm Kettlebell Swing
  • Kettlebell Clean
  • Kettlebell Strict Press
  • Offset Kettlebell Front Squat
  • Kettlebell Snatch

All these exercises are performed in “one flow” – so you don´t stop between exercises!

One round consists of : (start either with your left or right arm)

One Single Arm Kettlebell Swing – immediately followed by

One Kettlebell Clean – immediately followed by

One Kettlebell Strict Press – immediately followed by

One Offset Kettlebell Front Squat – immediately followed by

One Kettlebell Snatch

Then change arm and perform these exercises with the opposite hand:

Two Single Arm Kettlebell Swings – immediately followed by

Two Kettlebell Cleans – immediately followed by

Two Kettlebell Strict Presses – immediately followed by

Two Offset Kettlebell Front Squats – immediately followed by

Two Kettlebell Snatches

Then again change arm and perform these exercises with the opposite hand:

Three Single Arm Kettlebell Swings – immediately followed by

Three

You get the point! Now work your way up until you have finally reached five repetitions of each exercise.

Once you have finished all exercises with five repetitions, the first round is complete.

Do at least two rounds, but you can add as many rounds as you like.

colorful kettlebells

2) The Stabilizer

The name already gives you a hint – this workout is meant to maximize the stabilizing efforts your muscles have to do throughout all exercises.

This time your heart rate might not go through the top, but your shoulder muscles will definitely feel like they were on fire!

Male beginner athletes could choose to go with a 12kg to 16kg kettlebell. Advanced men can use 20kg to 28kg for this workout.

Female beginners start with 8kg to 12kg and advanced ladies can go with 16kg or even 20kg.

  • Start with a Turkish Get-Up, but stop in the standing position with your arm straight and the kettlebell above your head
  • Now hold your kettlebell in this position for 30 seconds
  • Perform five Overhead Kettlebell Lunges
  • Now finish the Turkish Get-Up until you are again laying on your back.

Switch to the opposite hand and repeat.

To begin with, finish two rounds with each arm and increase the number of rounds as you wish.

black kettlebells

3) Heart and Shoulder Explosion

Male beginner athletes could choose to go with a 12kg kettlebell. Advanced men can use a 16kg to 20kg kettlebell for this workout.

Female beginners start with 8kg and advanced ladies can go with 12kg or even 16kg.

  • 5 Overhead Kettlebell Lunges – immediately followed by
  • 5 Kettlebell Strict Press – immediately followed by
  • 5 Offset Kettlebell Squats – immediately followed by
  • 5 Offset Kettlebell Thrusters – immediately followed by
  • 5 Single Arm Kettlebell Swings

Switch to the other arm and repeat.

To begin with, finish two rounds with each arm and increase the number of rounds as you wish.

female athlete doing kettlebell swing

If you liked the article, please share and like. Also let me know if you enjoyed doing our shoulder exercises.

If you want to learn more on how to boost your performance during workouts or competition read our article about Pre Workout Supplements.

Or if you want to learn more on how to kickstart your metabolism AND boost performance during workouts read our article about Thermogenic Pre Workout Supplements.

If you are looking for more absolutely fantastic kettlebell workouts plus additional content, check out Chandler Marchmans website and Youtube Channel!

I´m an absolute fan of his workouts and I´m sure you will like them as well!

And as always : have a great day!

leg and shoulder workouts header
Related

Leg And Shoulder Workouts

Do More In Less Time!

Leg And Shoulder Workouts

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: