Get Stronger With This Upper-Body Kettlebell Workout

Woman presses kettlebell overhead
(Image credit: kali9 / Getty Images)

If you’re looking for a simple but effective session to strengthen your upper body, grab a kettlebell and give this workout a try. This upper-body kettlebell workout has been put together by Kunal Makwana, PT and founder of KMAK Fitness, and the difficulty can be adjusted for different fitness levels by using a lighter or heavier weight.

Depending on the speed at which you tackle the exercises and the amount of rest you take, the session will take between 20 and 45 minutes including a warm-up and warm-down. Take enough rest to ensure you’re working with good form and at the right intensity during your sets.

Upper-Body Kettlebell Workout


1 Arm circles

Sets 1 Time 30sec each direction

“Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, extend your arms to the sides at shoulder height, and make small circles, gradually getting larger,” says Makwana. “Do this for 30 seconds in each direction.”

2 Kettlebell halo

Sets 1 Reps 8-10 each direction

“Hold a light kettlebell by the handles in front of your face,” says Makwana. “Slowly circle it around your head, keeping your core tight and posture upright. “Perform 8-10 halos in each direction.”


1 Kettlebell swing 

Sets 3 Reps 12-15 Rest 30-60sec

Targets Shoulders and back

“Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding the kettlebell with both hands,” says Makwana. “Hinge at your hips to swing the kettlebell between your legs, then thrust your hips forward, swinging the kettlebell to chest level. Keep your arms straight and core engaged throughout the movement.”

2 Kettlebell clean and press

Sets 3 Reps 8-10 each side Rest 30-60sec

Targets Shoulders, chest and arms

“Start with the kettlebell between your feet,” says Makwana. “Bend your knees slightly, hinge at the hips, and grab the kettlebell with one hand. In one smooth motion, lift the kettlebell, flipping your wrist so it rests on your forearm by your shoulder. Press the kettlebell overhead, extending your arm fully, then lower it back to the starting position.”

3 Kettlebell row

Sets 3 Reps 10-12 each side Rest 30-60sec

Targets Back and biceps

“Place one hand on a bench for support, and hold a kettlebell in the opposite hand,” says Makwana. Alternatively, you can take a split stance and place one hand on your front knee. “Keep your back flat and let the kettlebell hang straight down. Pull the kettlebell up to your side, keeping your elbow close to your body, then lower it back down with control.”

4 Kettlebell floor press

Sets 3 Reps 8-10 each side Rest 30-60sec

Targets: Chest, triceps, and shoulders

“Lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor,” says Makwana. “Hold a kettlebell in one hand above your shoulder with your arm fully extended. Lower the kettlebell until your elbow touches the floor, then press it back up to the starting position.”

5 Kettlebell windmill

Sets 3 Reps 6-8 each side Rest 30-60sec

Targets Shoulders, obliques and hamstrings

“Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a kettlebell in your right hand overhead,” says Makwana. “Keeping your gaze on the kettlebell, hinge at the waist and lower your torso towards the left foot, touching it with your left hand (or as close as you can). Reverse the motion to return to the starting position.”


“Focus on stretching the upper-body muscles that were worked during the session,” says Makwana. “Include stretches for the shoulders, chest, back and arms, holding each stretch for 20-30 seconds.” 

About Our Expert
About Our Expert
Kunal Makwana

Kunal Makwana is a personal trainer and founder of KMAK Fitness. Makwana has a degree in sports psychology from the University of Nottingham and worked as a personal trainer at RNT Fitness before founding KMAK Fitness.

Get help deciding which kettlebell to buy with the expert advice in our guide to the best kettlebells.

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.