There’s no reason to needlessly suffer.
Dumbbells might hog most of the attention on the gym floor, but kettlebells can be unsung heroes. When you grip a kettlebell, your muscles have to adjust to all kinds of swinging instability at the ends of your arms, not just a static weight, offering an extra strength-boosting challenge. Which is why an upper body kettlebell workout can be such a great option for arms, back, and chest day.
“With a kettlebell, there is a space between your hand and the actual load, and this added distance acts as an additional lever arm,” Kelvin Gary, founder of NYC’s BodySpaceFitness, previously explained to Well+Good about the difference between kettlebells and dumbbells. That means that the position of the weight, and the fact that it can change throughout a move—whether that’s swinging under your wrist or getting hoisted up and over in a snatch—challenges your muscles in a different way than the load of a dumbbell, which remains statically on either side of your hand. “The added benefit here is that it’s more stimulus for your body to have to adapt to, thereby increasing the need for coordination and stability and ramping up the effort,” says Gary.
Kettlebells are typically used for moves like swings, cleans, and snatches, both because the changing position of the mass delivers that extra challenge, and because having the weight moving dynamically with your body feels a bit more natural. But kettlebells don’t need to be limited to those movement patterns. A new upper body kettlebell workout from Fhitting Room trainer Ben Lauder-Dykes, who is leading Well+Good’s Trainer of the Month Club this November, is actually anchored in more traditional arm, chest, and back exercises like rows and bicep curls.
In any strength-based workout, you want to work your major muscle groups evenly. There are many ways to achieve this, but thinking about motions in terms of their function—such as pushing and pulling—can help you make sure you’re not over- or under-working different muscles.
“Push/pull is simply one of many strategies for organizing a workout to target all major muscle groups and allow for an appropriate amount of rest between training day