You want bigger and stronger arms but only have 10 minutes and a kettlebell available? Here’s a workout you can do in ten minutes that trains all the muscles in the arms and will make them bigger and stronger.
A 10 minute arm kettlebell workout is enough for beginners and intermediate exercisers to make their arms bigger/stronger. As long as the exercise is kept challenging with enough resistance, sets and repetitions, you can use it for growth for a long time.
Below you can find an example workout that targets all the muscles in the shoulders and can be done in 10 minutes.
Here is an example for a shoulder workout that takes 10 minutes. It’s good for beginners or a quick touch up workout for a little more advanced exercisers. Mind you, it’s not easy. You do one set of each of the three exercises after each other and only rest after that. This is tough but good for muscle growth, endurance and to save time.
It aims to provide a full shoulder workout that works all the different muscles in the shoulder.
|KB Swing to bottoms up||2×12/side||160|
|Rest||30s after doing both sides||60|
|Rest||30s after both sets||60|
You might notice the word ‘superset’ in the chart above. This means you do one set of each of the different exercises in the superset (three sets in total) before resting. For clarity, you do one set of overhead extension and then a set of Tate presses without resting in between. Then rest after finishing both sets. After resting, repeat two more times.
3×12 means 3 sets of 12 repetitions. Repetitions are the amount of times you do the movement. Sets are an amount of repetitions you do without rest in between.
The rest period starts immediately after you put down the weight and stops when you have to do the first rep of the next set. That means grabbing the kettlebell and getting into position for the next set is done within the rest period. Set a timer for the rest period and stick to it.
You can see three different exercises in the workout above;
- Kettlebell swing to bottoms up
- Arnold Press
- Lateral Raise
You can find explanations of the exercises in the videos below. They are a little less straightforward than most other workouts for arms. That’s because 10 minutes is not a long time and there are quite a few different muscles in the shoulders. That’s why the exercises chosen target as much of the different muscles at the same time. That means the movements can be a bit more complicated than you’re used to.
The Arnold press is named after the most famous bodybuilder of all time, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He had some pretty well developed shoulder so while this movement might seem a little complicated, it seems to work quite well. It twists the dumbbells to the front of your body with the palms of the hands facing the body while also holding the dumbbells out in front of the body. Then towards the top you end like a normal press. This helps develop the front and rear of the shoulder much more than a normal press as well as hitting the biceps with a static hold at the bottom. This exercise can be done pretty heavy by most people.
The lateral raise is a pretty standard shoulder exercise and is just the best at isolating the side of the muscle. That’s the part that gives the shoulders the wide, round look from the front. Lateral raises are simple but very effective. Go light on the lateral raise.
The kettlebell swing to bottoms up is a full body movement that ends with a front raise to above the head. Instead of stopping the kettlebell swing when it’s at head height. Keep pulling it higher until it’s straight above the head. This means it’s a great warmup exercise that gets the blood flowing to muscles all over the body and you put some extra focus on the shoulder.
Warming up allows you to perform better later. In a 10 minute workout that might seem like a waste of time but since this warmup exercise already targets your shoulder, it’s worth it. It will mean you can do the exercises that follow at a slightly higher weight or more repetitions. This allows you to get more out of the short time you have.
Programming And Progression
How often should you do this and how can you progress? Progression is very important, it allows you to continuously overload your muscles the right amount so you keep getting bigger and stronger.
Especially when starting out, getting the right weight is important. You should use a weight that is just heavy enough so you can finish all the reps and sets in the workout. Yes, that will take a bit to figure out how heavy that is exactly. The first time, use a weight you think is two steps lighter than you can do. If that is easy, next workout, take the next step up. Do this until you run into a weight that is challenging.
Don’t worry about starting a bit lighter. Especially when working out for the first time, starting light is not a bad thing. Just get used to the movements and working out and build a solid base. Starting too heavy means you probably won’t do the exercise the right way and you learn it the wrong way from the beginning. You’ll likely also get very sore and skip the next workout. Starting slow is going to lead to more consistency down the line and consistency is they key. Big muscles aren’t grown from one workout session.
A big part of getting bigger and stronger is slightly increasing the load over time. Just enough so it stays a challenge for your body but you can still properly finish the workout. If you’ve successfully finished the workout twice with the same weight, see if you can move up one weight the next workout.
Kettlebells usually go up in at least 1 kg increments which is quite a big increase for the shoulders but in the beginning stages of training the shoulders, this should be possible.
Training Volume and rest periods
However, if increasing the weight isn’t so easy anymore, there are other buttons you can turn. Those buttons are amount of reps and sets and the rest periods in between. However, all these things will lengthen your workout so if the 10 minutes is a hard limit for you, this gets difficult. However, if a 2-3 minutes more, this is a good option.
First, lengthen your rest periods by 30 seconds each. That allows your muscles more time for recovery and thus more force production. This does skew the workout a bit more towards strength instead of size but it’ll be a very minor change.
When increasing the rest periods is not enough, don’t keep increasing it. Go back to the shorter rest periods AND the lower weight. But, increase the amount of repetitions per set up to 15. Adding an extra set is also an option or both.
More total repetitions at a lighter weight tends to be better for muscle growth but not as good for strength increases and vice versa. However, switching up training methods towards one side can help you break a plateau on the other side as well. Strength and muscle size aren’t completely correlated but bigger muscles don’t hurt when you want to be stronger.
How Quickly Can You See Results From This Workout?
Let’s say you do this workout two or three times a week, how quickly can you start seeing results? It depends on if you’ve already been training shoulders or not. Complete beginners will see good results within a few (3-4) weeks.
If you’ve already been training the shoulders, it depends. In case you’ve been training them consistently and recently, you’ll have a similar progression as before, maybe a bit faster if the workout above is better than what you’re doing now. Still in 4-6 weeks you should see some results.
People that have trained their shoulders a while ago and had bigger arms but not at the moment will see pretty good results quite quickly. Muscle memory is an interesting thing that allows you to get back to strength and size that you had before much quicker than someone that never had it before.
Of course all these are just guesstimates and they can differ depend on your specific situation, current training level, your diet, recovery and genetics. Getting the resistance, sets and reps right is also very important.