The 4 Best Kettlebell Exercises for Building Mass
Kettlebells may not be the first tool you think of when it comes to building mass. However, if used properly kettlellbell exercises can provide an incredible stimulus for building muscle and making your shirts look smaller.
There is a common misconception that kettlebells are only for swinging and cardio. Unfortunately, this common misconception keeps people from exploring their more dynamic uses, like building functional strength and muscle.
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Like any tool of the gym though, how you use the tool is more important than what you use; and when it comes to building muscle, there are three incredibly important elements you must address first.
A. Progressive Overload
It doesn’t matter if you are using bodyweight exercises, a barbell, dumbbells, or kettlebells, you must go heavy or use slow and controlled reps in order to trigger the adaptive response required to stimulate the growth of new muscle.
Without significant stress and time under tension your ability to gain sufficient mass will be limited.
B. Proper Nutrition
You must eat sufficient, quality calories in order to build new muscle. Lift all the weight you want; if you don’t eat, you won’t grow.
If your goal is to build muscle, eat a good protein source at every meal and plenty of green vegetables. Note: Do not fill up on junk food to make up calories or you’ll just get fat, which probably isn’t what you are going for.
You only grow when you rest. Lifting provides the stimulus for growth, but actual repair and growth occurs while you sleep. A lot of guys think they need to be in the gym 6 days a week, but that is probably the last thing you want to do.
3 to 4 hard sessions a week should be sufficient if you are working out hard enough. The other days should be committed to getting 8 to 10 hours of sleep, limiting alcohol intake (alcohol destroys hormone production) and eating quality calories.
Now that we have covered the basics, here are my top 4 kettlebell exercises for building mass.
The Top 4 Kettlebell Exercises for Mass Building
#1. Kettlebell Presses
Kettlebell Presses are great for building developing the shoulders and the overall strength of the upper body. Because kettlebell presses are executed in a standing position, the entire core and back are engaged in the exercise, not just the shoulders and triceps. Engaging as much muscle on every repetition is key to shocking the nervous system into growing.
Click here to watch the tutorial on the Kettlebell Press
#2. Kettlebell Front Squats
Similar to presses, kettlebell front squats require trainees to engage the entire body to control the weight throughout the movement. Your shoulders, arms, upper back and core must all engage, which provides a huge bang for your buck in terms of muscle stimulation.
The barbell squat will always be the king of leg exercises, but heavy barbell squats creates a huge shearing force on the spine and is not always a suitable exercise for everyone, especially as trainees get into their 30s and 40s. Kettlebell squats offer a safer and effective alternative that can provide a similar growth stimulus.
Click here to watch the tutorial on the Kettlebell Squats
#3. Kettlebell Farmer’s Carry
Coach Mark likes to say, “if you want to gain weight, pick up something heavy and carry it!”
This is where kettlebell farmer’s carries come in. They engage nearly every muscle in the upper body and allow a trainee to use a much heavier weight than would otherwise be practical when doing isolated upper body work.
Bonus: They’re simple! Pick the heaviest weight you can handle and carry it around until you need to put it down. Do that three or four times and I guarantee your upper body will be screaming.
Click here to watch the tutorial on the Kettlebell Carries
#4. Kettlebell Deadlifts
Kettlebell deadlifts engage the entire body into each movement. Kettlebell deadlifts are incredible for stimulating the posterior chain of muscles; that is, hamstrings, glutes and low back, but also requires heavy recruitment of the grip muscles, upper back, shoulders, arms and core.
Additionally, kettlebells offer you a more dynamic alternative to barbell deadlifts in that you can easily change the position of the weight to change the way it challenges your body. For example, using a neutral grip with the weight on the side versus using an overhand grip with the weight out front.
Again, though kettlebells are commonly associated with swings and cardio workouts, they are an incredible mass building tool. Though no matter what tool you ultimately choose to build strength and muscle you must lift heavy weight, eat well and get sufficient sleep. If you don’t it won’t matter and you won’t grow.
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