The 12 Best Kettlebell Shoulder Exercises For Your Kettlebell Workout

Kettlebell shoulder exercises are an extremely effective tool to use for multiple different training goals, from injury mitigation to muscle gain. Each kettlebell shoulder exercise here can be used in your workout routine to tremendous effect.

6 min read
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Written by
Sean Klein
Published on
20/05/22
Last updated
23/06/22
In This Resource
  • Benefits Of Using Kettlebells To Train Your Shoulders
  • They Can Be Used For Multiple Goals
  • Single Arm Kettlebell Work - Unilateral Strength
  • How Do You Train Your Shoulders With A Kettlebell
  • Strength
  • Hypertrophy (Increasing Muscle Mass)
  • Shoulder Health
  • Shoulder Stability
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Are Kettlebell Shoulder Exercises Good For Your Shoulders?
  • Does Kettlebell Swing Exercise Build Shoulders?
  • Do Kettlebell Cleans Work Shoulders?
  • How Often Should You Train Shoulders?
  • Which Kettlebell Exercises Should I Put In My Kettlebell Workout?
  • Anatomy and Function Of The Shoulder

So you have a few kettlebells lying around at home and want to learn how to use them effectively, or your just curious as how to add a little more variety to your kettlebell shoulder workouts. Most people recycle the same old strength workouts leading to boredom and stagnation. Here we provide 12 exercises you can use to liven up you shoulder workouts for you to get stronger, increase muscle mass and prevent injury.

Benefits Of Using Kettlebells To Train Your Shoulders

They Can Be Used For Multiple Goals

Kettlebells are beneficial for training the shoulders for multiple reasons, the main being that they are effective at achieving multiple training goals. If you want to improve strength, increase muscle mass, improve stability or mitigate injury in the shoulder joint, they are able to achieve all these goals with a single piece of equipment.

Single Arm Kettlebell Work - Unilateral Strength

Kettlebells are also great for the shoulders because they can be used to develop unilateral strength as seen with the Half Kneeling KB Press. Finally, kettlebells may be excellent for developing the shoulders for multiple goals but often develop core strength at the same time making them effective at developing functional strength.

How Do You Train Your Shoulders With A Kettlebell

As mentioned above, the kettlebell can be used to develop the shoulders for multiple goals. Here is how they might be used to develop different goals.

Strength

Using a low rep range (3-5 reps) and a heavier weight for 3-6 sets would be a great way to develop shoulder strength with a kettlebell. Anything around 4-8 sets a week with this loading structure will see great results.

Hypertrophy (Increasing Muscle Mass)

Using a medium to high rep range (8-20) with a moderate weight for 3-6 sets would be effective for increasing muscle mass. Keep each set close to failure. Use between 6-12 sets per week to see effective results here.

Shoulder Health

The should joint is a very complex joint and is very susceptible to injury when playing sports. Many kettlebell exercises have been used to help strengthen the shoulder joint and help mitigate the risk of injury. These exercises should be loaded conservatively and done with caution.

Shoulder Stability

Another effective strategy for stabilising the shoulder joint is using carries and static holds to work the shoulder joint. This increase in stability and control will contribute to mitigating injury in different sports that challenge the shoulder.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Kettlebell Shoulder Exercises Good For Your Shoulders?

Yes, in fact these exercises are some of the most effective exercises available for some of the training aims like shoulder health and stability. They are not the most effective way to train for muscle growth but that doesn’t mean that they are not worth while just should not be the focal point of a hypertrophy training routing.

Does Kettlebell Swing Exercise Build Shoulders?

No. Not really, its a full body exercise that mainly works the hinge movement pattern.

Do Kettlebell Cleans Work Shoulders?

No. This movement again is a full body movement but for sure puts emphasis on the lower body. These are seen a lot in Crossfit WODs when being used to train either cardiovascular capabilities or muscular endurance capabilities.

How Often Should You Train Shoulders?

This all depends on the goal of your training in the first place. For hypertrophy you will want 6-12 of working sets while being in a calorie surplus. For shoulder health, there isn’t any definitive literature on this topic, adding in some accessory shoulder work to your resistance training sessions for 3-4 sets a week will be beneficial to your rehab.

Which Kettlebell Exercises Should I Put In My Kettlebell Workout?

The exercises you pick really depend on the goal of the session. If you are trying to put on muscle, you will want very simple exercises that allow you to generate a lot of fatigue in the shoulders. If you are trying to improve shoulder stability then you will use exercises which achieve this aim. The key is being intentional about which exercises you pick and why, not just randomly adding exercises into a session with too thought process behind it.

Anatomy and Function Of The Shoulder

The shoulder is made up of two joints, the acromioclavicular joint and also the glenohumeral joint. The acromioclavicular joint is where the acromion, part of the shoulder blade and the collar bone meet.

The glenohumeral joint is where the ball and the socket meet. The rotator cuff connects the humerus to the scapula and is made up of the tendons of four muscles, the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and the subscapularis.

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