If you want to kick your workouts up a notch, kettlebells can help you do that. The nifty fitness tool makes for an affordable addition to a home gym and enables you to do various workouts. Kettlebells are especially great for working out your shoulders. Below, Marc Miller, a certified trainer and Co-Owner of NYC-based personal training studio Independent Training Spot, answers all our pressing kettlebell shoulder workout questions and shares an easy kettlebell shoulder workout to try out.
So, how are kettlebells good for shoulders?
The kettlebell's shape is what makes it such a great training tool for the shoulders. "The center mass of the kettlebell locked overhead lines up better with the shoulder than the dumbbell," Miller tells Lively. "This has advantages in regard to the joints’ health and stability and can help to reduce potential injury."
How many days a week should you do kettlebells?
Miller recommends incorporating kettlebell shoulder workouts into your routine a maximum of three times per week with rest days in between. Pro tip: For best results, Miller also suggests starting light with the weights and focusing on nailing the proper form first before steadily increasing the weight over time.
Is 20 minutes of kettlebells enough?
The short answer is that it depends on the overall length of your workout. "You want to make sure you're mixing in different exercises to round things out," says Miller. "So, estimate anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes per area, if you're doing a 60-minute workout."
Can you get ripped from kettlebells?
Yes and no. "Kettlebells are an important tool for getting you ripped, but there is no silver bullet," Miller says. "You will see the best results from consistency, working with a trainer, or getting a personalized program and keeping your overall diet in check.”
3 kettlebell shoulder workouts
1. Military press/overhead press
According to Miller, a military press (also known as an overhead press) is the best kettlebell shoulder workout. "The military press involves a coordinated action of the serratus anterior and middle trapezius muscles, which together lead to proper rotational action of the shoulder blade," he says. "I believe the kettlebell military press is essential for the seamless development and coordination of the shoulder joint."
To do a military press, start with the kettlebell in the rack position and make sure your elbow is tucked into your chest. Then, press the kettlebell directly overhead. Next, lower the weight by reversing the bell path and repeat. Note that it's important not to let the kettlebell travel too far out to your body's sides. Miller says that it can be damaging and limits the weight you can handle and reps you can do.
2. Straight arm overhead kettlebell hold
For this kettlebell shoulder workout, hold the kettlebell with a straight arm in the overhead position and then hold there for about a minute. "During the overhead hold, the wrist and arm should be kept straight, the shoulders back and down, and make sure the arm is away from the shoulder."
3. Kettlebell windmill
The kettlebell windmill involves holding the kettlebell overhead with a straight arm and wrist to ensure it is stable. Then, Miller says, "twist your body and reach down towards the floor with the opposite hand. The goal is to reach the opposite ankle with your hand while keeping both legs straight, and the kettlebell pressed overhead. Make sure to keep the weight manageable and take your time to get the physics correct."
How many kettlebell workout reps should you do?
Well, it depends on your fitness level. If you're a beginner, Miller recommends 2 sets of 5-8 reps. For more intermediate and advanced folks, 4 sets of 8-10 reps of each exercise are recommended. All that said, these are just estimates. Tailor the kettlebell shoulder workout to your fitness level or work with a trainer to ensure you've got a well-rounded program.