Shoulders are one of the most trained muscles, as having well-developed deltoids is indeed a very common fitness goal, though; having strong shoulders is also important to prevent injuries of the shoulder girdle.
If you train at home, however, you may struggle to find effective exercise routines to develop robust and chiseled deltoids, especially if you have limited equipment. The good news is that you don’t actually require an endless number of machines to train your shoulders properly, as you can achieve this by simply using a couple of kettlebells.
Below you can find a list of shoulder-focused, best kettlebell exercises and workouts to get strong and well-defined shoulders even if you train at home.
Kettlebell workout for stronger shoulders
If performed at the correct intensity and volume, these workouts can be very effective in developing strong and defined shoulders. To achieve an ideal training volume, it is suggested to include these exercises at least twice weekly in your exercise routine.
Alternate Shoulder Press
Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart while holding a kettlebell from the handle with each hand
Bend the elbows to move the kettlebells to shoulder height, with the palms facing forward
Extend the right elbow to straighten your arm and lift the kettlebell above your head. Keep the left elbow bent with the kettlebell at shoulder-height
Bend the right elbow to lower the kettlebell to the right shoulder
Repeat on the other side. This is one repetition
Reps and Sets: Perform 8-10 reps for 4-5 sets
Lateral Raise Hold
Stand upright with a kettlebell in each hand
Extend the arms down to position the kettlebells on the side of the legs, with your palms facing in
Keeping the arms extended, lift them to the sides to raise the kettlebells until the hands are in line with the shoulders. Then, slightly bend the elbows to prevent sprains around this joint
Engage the left shoulder muscles to lower the left arm down to the starting position. Meanwhile, keep the right arm up in an isometric hold
Lift the left arm again to contract the shoulder muscle, making sure to maintain the isometric hold with the right arm. This is one repetition, repeat on both sides
Reps and Sets: Perform 8-10 reps on each side for 5 sets
Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart while holding a kettlebell with both hands from the handle
Extend the arms down to position the kettlebell in front of your legs
Lift the hands along your trunk while bending the elbows until the kettlebell handle is right below your chin
Gently extend the elbows to lower the arms down to the starting position. This is one repetition
Reps and Sets: Perform 10-12 reps for 5 sets
Stand upright with your feet apart while holding a kettlebell with each hand
Extend your arms down in front of your legs with the palms facing in
Keeping the arms extended, use the shoulders to raise the arms to the front until they are parallel to the floor
Keeping the shoulders engaged, gently lower the kettlebells down to the starting position. This is one repetition.
Reps and Sets: Perform 8-10 reps for 5 sets
Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart whilst holding a kettlebell in each hand
Extend the arms up to raise the kettlebells above your head
Keeping the core engaged, walk for 30-45 seconds. This is one set
Reps and Sets: Perform this exercise for 30-45 seconds for 5 sets
Why Kettlebells Are A Great Gym Tool
Kettlebells are an incredibly versatile and effective tool for a full-body workout. They are small, compact, and easy to store, making them ideal for a busy gym or home gym. Unlike traditional weight training exercises, which primarily work for one muscle group at a time, kettlebell exercises allow you to use multiple muscles in an integrated, coordinated manner.
This allows you to get a complete workout in less time than with traditional weight training exercises. Performing kettlebell shoulder exercises, in particular, builds shoulder strength which supports shoulder mobility and shoulder strength, specifically the rotator cuff muscles.
Kettlebells also provide an excellent cardiovascular component to your workouts. Swinging and pressing the kettlebells while moving through dynamic patterns can help improve your balance, coordination, and agility. Plus, kettlebell workouts are great for burning calories and fat.
Kettlebells are also very affordable compared to other gym equipment, and they come in a variety of sizes, weights, and shapes, so you can choose the kettlebell best suited for your needs. This makes the kettlebell ideal for both beginner and advanced fitness levels.
Other Types of Shoulder Presses
Kettlebell Shoulder Push Press
The full kettlebell push press or shoulder push press is an effective exercise for strengthening and toning the shoulders, as well as building overall power in the upper body. It involves holding a kettlebell with two hands while positioning your arms at shoulder level and keeping your feet shoulder-width apart. Pressing up explosively, you raise the kettlebell overhead until your arms are fully extended and then lower it back to about shoulder width level.
These kettlebell shoulder workouts require a great deal of power and coordination, so it is important to keep good form throughout the entire movement. Start out with a lighter weight until you feel comfortable doing the exercise with the proper technique, and gradually increase the weight as you become stronger. With practice, kettlebell exercises can help you build bigger, stronger shoulders, protect each shoulder joint, and increase your overall power.
Kettlebell Shoulder Press
Slightly different than a kettlebell swing, the full kettlebell overhead shoulder press is a great full-body workout that targets the shoulders, core, and arms. It involves holding a kettlebell in both hands and positioning your arms at shoulder level. From here, you press up explosively until your arms are fully extended with the kettlebell overhead. You then lower the kettlebell back to shoulder level before repeating the movement.
Seated Single-Arm Kettlebell Shoulder Press
The seated single-arm kettlebell shoulder press is just like the regular kettlebell shoulder workouts and press, just in seated position and with one arm. It focuses on targeting the shoulders, core, and arms. This exercise can help to build strength and muscle endurance in the shoulders and arms, as well as improve overall stability and balance.
To perform this exercise, start by sitting on the floor with your feet flat and one arm extended out to the side with a kettlebell in hand. With your core engaged and back straight, press the kettlebell up towards the ceiling until your arm is fully extended with the kettlebell overhead. Then slowly lower it back to shoulder level, taking care to keep good form throughout the entire movement.
Start out with a lighter weight and gradually increase the weight as you become stronger. With practice and time, this exercise can help you increase your shoulder stability while building strong, toned shoulders.
Kettlebell Single Arm Overhead Press
The Kettlebell Single-Arm Overhead Press is an excellent full-body exercise that targets the shoulders, core, arms, and even the legs. It involves holding a kettlebell in one hand while pressing it directly overhead with the arm extended. This exercise strengthens the shoulder muscles and increases their power, as well as builds muscle in the arms, legs, and core.
To perform this exercise, start in a standing position with your feet apart and a kettlebell in one hand. With your core engaged and back straight, press the kettlebell directly overhead until your arm is fully extended before lowering it back. Make sure to keep good form throughout the entire movement and start out with a lighter weight until you become stronger. With practice, this exercise can help you build powerful shoulders and increase overall strength.
Kettlebell Sit and Press
Kettlebell Sit and Press is an excellent exercise for strengthening the shoulder, shoulder joint, arms, and core. This exercise involves sitting with your legs extended in front of you while holding a kettlebell in both hands at chest level.
With your arm straight, core engaged and back straight, press the kettlebells directly overhead until your arms are fully extended before lowering them back to chest level. This exercise is great for increasing shoulder strength and stability, as well as engaging the arms and core.
Kettlebell Kneeling Press
Kettlebell Kneeling Press is an effective exercise for targeting and strengthening the shoulder muscles. It involves kneeling on one knee, with the other leg extended to the side while holding a kettlebell with two hands at chest level.
With your core engaged and back straight, press the kettlebell forward and directly overhead until your arms are fully extended before returning it back to starting position. This exercise not only strengthens the shoulder muscles but also engages the arms and core. For an extra challenge, try performing this exercise in a standing position on a single leg.
Bottoms Up Kettlebell Shoulder Press
The Bottoms Up Kettlebell Shoulder Press is an advanced kettlebell exercise move that targets the shoulder muscles, rotator cuff muscle, arms, and core. It involves holding a kettlebell in each hand while performing overhead presses with the bottoms of the kettlebells facing up. This unique position helps to increase shoulder stability and control, as well as strengthens the rotator cuff muscles.
To perform these kettlebell shoulder exercises, start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and a kettlebell in each hand at chest level. With your core engaged and back straight, press the kettlebells up overhead, making sure to keep the bottoms facing up throughout the entire movement. Slowly lower them back down to a neutral position at chest level and repeat for three sets of 12 reps per side.
Kettlebell High Pull
Kettlebell High Pull is an effective exercise for strengthening the shoulders, arms, and core. This exercise involves standing with your feet as far apart as your hips and holding a kettlebell in each hand at chest level. While these seem similar to a kettlebell swing, it’s important that you note the difference in this exercise and protect your shoulder health by maintaining control over the kettlebell at all times.
With your core engaged and back straight, powerfully thrust the kettlebells up to shoulder height before forcefully extending them forward. Make sure to keep your elbows up and your tight core very tight throughout the entire movement. Finally, lower them back down to chest level and repeat for four sets of eight reps per side.
What Makes Kettlebells Special For Shoulder Work?
Kettlebells are a great tool for shoulder work because of their unique design. The offset weight and handle shape allow users to mimic the movements of many everyday activities, such as lifting, throwing, and pressing. (The kettlebell swing didn’t become a fan favorite by sheer luck alone.)
This helps to target multiple muscles in the shoulder region, including the rotator cuff muscles. Additionally, kettlebells can be used to perform dynamic and explosive movements that require coordination and balance, making them ideal for shoulder training. No matter what shoulder exercises you’re choosing to complete with the kettlebell (kettlebell snatch, kettlebell windmill, etc.) or what variation you’re choosing (half kneeling position, seated position, etc.), it’s important that you maintain the right posture and technique. Keep your core tight, your glutes tight, your overhead motion controlled, your shoulder blade protected, and your upper chest open. This will ensure that the best kettlebell shoulder exercises give you maximum results, whether you’re using a light weight or something a little more advanced.
Finally, the portability of kettlebells means they can be taken anywhere and used as part of any workout routine. So if you’ve been on the fence about adding kettlebell exercises to your shoulder workout, this is your sign to give it a try!
Post Kettlebell Shoulder Workout Tips
After shoulder kettlebell exercises, it is important to take time to rest and stretch. This will help to reduce any soreness and encourage proper recovery. By following these simple post-workout tips, you can ensure that each shoulder and shoulder joint is properly taken care of and ready for your next session!
Rest is key.
It’s important to give your body time to recover after tough kettlebell exercises, so make sure to take some time off from training and allow your muscles to heal. During this period of rest, focus on mindful stretching exercises that target the shoulders, arms, and core. This will help to reduce any soreness and encourage proper recovery while maintaining your shoulder health.
In addition to stretching, foam rolling or massage therapy can also be incredibly beneficial for reducing tension in the muscles and each shoulder joint and improving mobility in the shoulders. Using a foam roller or getting a massage or physical therapist can help release knots in the muscles and increase blood flow to promote healing.
Another important aspect of post-workout recovery is hydration – make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Proper hydration helps flush out toxins from the muscles and aids in muscle recovery. Additionally, getting enough sleep is crucial for allowing your body to repair itself after a strenuous workout.
Take a Break.
Finally, it’s important not to overdo it on subsequent workouts after a shoulder-focused kettlebell session. Give your shoulders enough time between your kettlebell workouts before hitting them hard again with heavy weights or high-intensity exercises. This will help prevent injury and ensure that you continue making progress toward your fitness goals.
Is a Kettlebell Shoulder Workout Right for You?
Kettlebell shoulder workouts can be a great way to build strength and improve mobility in the upper body. However, like any workout program, it’s important to determine if this type of training is right for you before diving in. Here are some factors to consider when determining if kettlebell shoulder workouts are appropriate for your fitness level and goals:
Current Fitness Level
Kettlebell shoulder exercises can be challenging, so it’s important to assess your current fitness level and shoulder movement before starting this type of workout program. If you’re new to working out or have limited experience with strength training, it may be best to start with regular shoulder exercises with lighter weights and focus on proper form before progressing to full kettlebell training and more advanced movements.
If you have a history of shoulder injuries or shoulder joint injuries or pain, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting a kettlebell shoulder workout program. Certain kettlebell shoulder workouts may exacerbate existing injuries or put too much strain on the shoulders, so it’s important to take precautions and modify exercises as needed.
Your shoulder health is incredibly important, so make sure you’re being honest with your limitations, shoulder mobility, and even rotator cuff stability before embarking on a new workout routine.
Your fitness goals should also factor into whether or not a kettlebell shoulder workout is right for you. If your primary goal is weight loss or cardiovascular endurance, another kettlebell exercise may be more appropriate.
However, if you’re looking to build upper body strength and improve mobility in shoulder joints and the shoulders, then kettlebell shoulder exercises could be an effective addition to your routine.
Kettlebell training can be time-efficient since they often combine multiple movements into one exercise. However, they still require time commitment and consistency in order to see results.
Finally, consider whether or not you enjoy this type of exercise! Enjoying what you do will make sticking with the program easier and more fun.
Determining if a kettlebell shoulder workout is right for you requires consideration of many factors, including current fitness level, injury history, goals, time availability, and interest level in this type of exercise.
By taking all these into account when making decisions about your fitness routine, you’ll be able to create an effective plan that works for your unique needs!
By performing these kettlebell shoulder training exercises regularly, you can build strength, power, balance, and stability while toning the arms, shoulders, and core muscles. Make sure to maintain good form throughout each exercise and start out with lighter weights until you become stronger. With practice, the best kettlebell shoulder training exercises can help you build an effective kettlebell shoulder training and routine for improved overall fitness!
And, while this is by no means a comprehensive list of kettlebell shoulder workouts (we didn’t name the kettlebell snatch, kettlebell push press, kettlebell windmill, etc.), we hope this information was helpful in understanding how to incorporate kettlebells into your shoulder health workout routine. Remember to always warm up before beginning any kettlebell training exercise and listen to your body as always.
Happy kettlebell training!
Levy, O. and Rath, E., 2002. Traumatic soft tissue injuries of the shoulder girdle. Trauma, 4(4), pp.223-235.
Niederbracht, Y., Shim, A.L., Sloniger, M.A., Paternostro-Bayles, M. and Short, T.H., 2008. Effects of a shoulder injury prevention strength training program on eccentric external rotator muscle strength and glenohumeral joint imbalance in female overhead activity athletes. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 22(1), pp.140-145.