Build Upper-Body Muscle In 20 Minutes With One Kettlebell

Woman performs upright row exercise with a kettlebell in the gym
(Image credit: Rich Legg / Getty Images)

The kettlebell is a fantastically versatile piece of equipment. You can use it for dynamic compound moves like the kettlebell swing, snatch and clean which are great for developing functional strength and power. But you can also use it for more traditional free-weights exercises to build muscle, as in this 20-minute routine from Juice & Toya, LA-based personal trainers and owners of One Body LA

The workout is broken down into two blocks of eight exercises. You’ll work for two periods of 20 seconds for each exercise, resting for five seconds between exercises (switching sides if the move is unilateral), and then for 15 seconds before you move on to the next exercise. You’ll also rest for 30 seconds between blocks. Don’t worry if that sounds complicated—it’s a follow-along video so you can’t go wrong. Kettlebell newbies should keep an eye on Toya, who performs easier modifications of each move.

All you need is a single kettlebell, although a few weight options to switch between wouldn’t hurt, so you can go lighter for the raises and other shoulder exercises. Don’t worry if you only have one—the beauty of working for time means you do what you can—and don’t struggle to hit a number of reps with a weight that’s too heavy.

Since you lie on the floor for some moves, grab an exercise mat if you have one.

Watch Juice & Toya’s kettlebell workout routine

If you’re looking to build strength and muscle mass, J&T recommend repeating this routine two to three times a week. If you do that, it’s a good idea to aim to gradually increase the weight over time. An adjustable kettlebell is great for this, and you’ll find one in our guide to the best kettlebells.

If you enjoyed this kettlebell workout, we have plenty more routines to try. This 30-minute kettlebell workout increases the challenge by using two kettlebells and programming the clean and the snatch. This beginner kettlebell workout and kettlebell HIIT workout are more suitable if you have less training experience. And finally, this kettlebell workout challenge will challenge even the strongest of athletes.

Lois Mackenzie
Fitness writer

Lois Mackenzie is a fitness writer working on news, features, reviews and buying guides for Coach and sister site Fit&Well. Lois is a hill walker and avid runner who has just completed her first marathon. Before joining Coach, Lois worked as a senior SEO reporter at Newsquest Media Group.