Build Upper-Body Muscle With This Four-Move Kettlebell Workout

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If you want to fill out your T-shirt sleeves and strengthen your trunk simultaneously, this is the workout for you. The session is from trainer Keanu Rey Soto and requires only a pair of kettlebells.

It’s formatted as two couplets: the first pairs the press-up and gorilla row, and the second the kettlebell clean and strict kettlebell press.

The first part of the kettlebell workout starts with high-volume sets, performing 20 reps of each exercise. Next, perform 16 reps of each movement, then 12, then eight and finally a round of four to finish. 

After this, move on to the second couplet. Start with five cleans and one strict press, then subtract one clean and add a strict press each round until you reach one clean and five strict presses. 

That’s – gulp – one round. Repeat this three times to finish the workout, then take a well-earned rest. 

When choosing a set of kettlebells for this workout, you want to pick a weight that allows you to complete at least the first round of each couplet without resting. Continue without putting the kettlebells down for as long as you can manage, and keep your rest times short – you’re aiming to finish this workout as fast as possible, without sacrificing your form.  

Though the session from Soto only uses four movements, each one is a compound exercise, which uses multiple joints and recruits several muscle groups at once. 

The press-up targets your chest first and foremost, but it will also train your shoulders and triceps. The gorilla row engages muscles in your back and biceps, while the strict press is a great shoulder-builder, and there aren’t many muscle groups kettlebell cleans don’t use – your core, glutes, quads, hamstrings and lower back all play an active role.

Harry Bullmore
Staff writer

Harry covers news, reviews and features for Coach, Fit&Well and Live Science. With over a decade of training experience, he has tried everything from powerlifting to gymnastics, cardio to CrossFit, all in a bid to find fun ways of building a healthy, functional body.