Do you want stronger bigger shoulders and only have a kettlebell available? Here are the best exercises and a short workout you can do to get stronger, bigger deltoids.
In 10 minutes you can do a kettlebell workout that is enough for beginners to get bigger, stronger shoulders as long as it is done heavy enough and enough times a week. The further you advance, the more weight and volume you need to keep the shoulders growing.
Below you can find an example workout that targets all the muscles in the shoulders and can be done in 10 minutes. Below that you can find an explanation of the exercises.
Kettlebell Shoulder Workout
Here is a shoulder kettlebell workout that takes about 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.
This workout covers all the three heads of the deltoid, front, side and rear, for fully developed shoulders.
|KB Bottoms Up Press||2×12/side||Front delt, side delt, core|
|Rest||30s after doing both sides|
|KB Front Raise||3×12/side||Front delt, core|
|Rest||30s after both sides|
|KB Lateral Raise||3×12/side||Side delt|
|Rest||30s after both sides|
|KB Rear Delt Fly||3×12/side||Rear delt, Traps, side delt|
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. If you have trouble with this workout, reduce the amount of repetitions per set until you can finish all the sets with 2-3 repetitions left in reserve. If you can’t do more than 6-7 repetitions per set, you need a lighter kettlebell.
Also read this article: How many sets and reps is optimal for shoulder growth?
If it’s too easy, you can up the amount of repetitions to 15 per set and if that’s not enough, you need a heavier kettlebell.
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.
Suggested: Is training shoulders twice a week enough?
Kettlebell Shoulder Exercises
You can see three different exercises in the workout above;
- Bottoms Up Press
- Front Raise
- Lateral Raise
- Rear Delt Fly
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.
Kettlebell Bottoms Up Press
The bottom up press is the main shoulder exercise you can do with a kettlebell. It’s a good shoulder developer that targets the front and side of the shoulders along with the core. You can do it pretty heavy which means good it’s a good exercise for both shoulder strength and size development.
Kettlebell Arnold Press
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.
Rear Delt Fly
The rear delt fly is a great exercise that targets an often undertrained part of the shoulder; the rear delt. It also targets parts of the mid-back all of which is great for your posture and full looking shoulders.
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.
To warm up with kettlebells, the kettlebell swing is hard to beat. Do 2-3 sets of 30-45 seconds and you’ll be ready to go.
Programming And Progression
How often should you do this shoulder workout 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.
Suggested: How to optimize your kettlebell workouts
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.