When most people think of Kettlebell Training, they think of ballistic exercises because that’s primarily what kettlebells are primarily used for. (Interesting little tidbit – Ballistic comes from the Greek word ballein , which literally means “to throw”) Ballistic training is a form of power training which involves swinging weights, throwing weights, and jumping with weights to increase explosive power. Ballistic exercises are intended is to maximize the acceleration phase of an object’s movement and minimize the deceleration phase.  With that in mind, Kettlebells are ideal for ballistic exercises because of the design. With that said, Kettlebells can also be used in a non-ballistic fashion as well. I personally have grown to love using kettlebell exercises in my routine and once I got the hang of using them in a non-ballistic way, I was hooked. 

I’m always looking for ways to change up my workouts every 6 to 8 weeks. I have the certain splits that I like to stick to, as well as my favorite arsenal of exercises I prefer over others.  Even so, it’s important to switch it up so you can maximize gains by pushing yourself to new heights, prevent overuse injuries, and of course, it can prevent you from getting bored with the same old thing over and over again in the gym. Changing it up can keep you engaged in your workouts and can help you learn to appreciate the process of building your body and pushing your body to new levels.  

A few months ago, I was finishing up my arm workout and I kept thinking about how I rarely feel a good pump anymore during my routine, and I’m also rarely sore afterward. Not that soreness is a clear indicator of effectiveness, but it’s good to feel like you actually worked out on the day after you bust your ass in the gym. I started writing a new routine that night but midway, I thought, you know what, I’m gonna try something completely different than the regular biceps and triceps exercises.  Sure, I could incorporate some more TRX exercises, or add a few different exercises I hadn’t done for a while, but I wanted to do something I haven’t done before. Enter in Kettlebells.


Kettlebell Training for Arms


At the same time, I was looking to change up my routine, I came across an article talking about replacing dumbbells for kettlebells in your routine.  Like most people, when I think of kettlebells, I think of ballistic and explosive exercises such as the Kettlebell swing, Turkish Get-Up, Russian Twist, and the like. I never really thought of simply replacing my dumbbells with Kettlebells, and giving it a go.  What I mean is using the Kettlebells in a Non-ballistic manner. Well, that’s just what I did and boy oh boy, I couldn’t be happier with the results. Now honestly, there’s a bit more to it than simply swapping out the dumbbell for a kettlebell and diving in. Kettlebells are significantly different than dumbbells in many ways and so you do need to know the best way to go about using kettlebells so you don’t hurt yourself.

I first started by replacing just triceps exercises. My normal arm routine consists of both biceps and triceps exercises in a superset manner. I’ve since switched to kettlebells for some bicep exercises (bicep exercises in general, wreak havoc on my wrists from years of boxing and kettlebells exercises can tend to put more stress on the wrists because of the balancing aspect)  as well as for back exercises where I used to use dumbbells before. The key to effectively using kettlebells in place of dumbbells knowing how kettlebells can be applied to make certain movements even more effective than their traditional counterparts.  There are some Fitness writers, enthusiasts, and coaches who claim if you’re using kettlebells for tricep extensions, curls, lateral raises, etc., then you’re doing it wrong. Well, that statement is a LIE. Kettlebells have benefits far beyond the explosive exercises they often are known for.  The key to why Kettlebells can help with strength and size primarily has to do with the way in which the Kettlebells is designed.


Tension = Strength, Power, and Muscle

Tension is one of the most important and most overlooked aspects of strength training.  Pavel Tsatsouline, who introduced kettlebells to the west in 1998, was all about tension.  When asked what about the most important piece of advice people had ever learned about strength training, Pavel responde