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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. A great example of an exercise which can be used for shoulder health to mitigate injury (not prevent) is the lying KB screw drives . These are excellent as they move the shoulder through a challenging range of motion in a very controlled. way.
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.
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.
No. Not really, its a full body exercise that mainly works the hinge movement pattern.
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.
It has been shown that training volume directly impacts the hypertrophy of the muscle group being trained (1). Meaning the more volume (sets) performed on the muscles in the shoulder the greater hypertrophic effect. This has been shown to hit a point of diminishing returns around 15 sets per week. The key is to be in the 8-12 sets range for optimal growth whilst being in a calorie surplus. It depends on why your training your shoulder also, 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. For more information on volume landmarks have a look at RP Strength article on the topic .
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.
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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This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.