You’ve probably heard about the benefits of kettlebell training for cardio, fat burning, and endurance; no other piece of fitness equipment can do it quite like the kettlebell when it comes to these. However, kettlebells should not be relegated to these areas alone – they’re also an excellent way to build muscle.
If building muscle in the fastest and most effective way is the topic of discussion, then barbell training will always reign as king. However, can kettlebells build muscle? Or should they only be used as a supplement? Well, you will be happy to know that kettlebells can in fact build muscle on their own as well as when used as a supplement!
Granted, it will take just a little more time to build mass, but in addition to building muscle, you’ll be getting ripped and defined at the same time. So while you won’t look like a professional bodybuilder using kettlebells (who really wants that anyway?), you’ll for sure increase your athleticism and sculpt your body for a more toned and lean look.
Keys to Building Muscle with Kettlebells
- Incorporate high volume and intensity into your routine
- Train to or close to muscle failure
- Have no shortage of explosive movements within your routine
- More grinds than ballistic movements
- Have rest periods of 30 seconds to a minute.
Volume and Intensity
If you’re a beginner to the world of fitness, it’s easy to fall into the trap of not adequately stressing your muscles out – at least not enough to stimulate them to grow. Of course, there is such a thing as doing too much and risking injury, but on the flip side, you can do too little and get no muscle gains at all.
Volume and intensity are of the utmost importance when your goal is to build muscle. It is essential to understand that you’ll need two kettlebells if you want to add mass to your muscles. As a result, you will be performing lots of double kettlebell exercises in an attempt to stimulate muscle growth through ultimate recruitment and activation. Using two kettlebells will invariably cause your body to work harder when compared to using only one kettlebell.
Training Your Muscles to Failure
When it comes to muscle growth, you mustn’t be afraid of pain; here is where the old saying, “no pain, no gain,” rings the truest.
So what does it mean to train your muscles to failure?
To train your muscles to failure means to fatigue your muscles during a set to the point that even just one more rep is not possible. Hypertrophy, or muscle growth, is the key to getting bulkier muscles; if you consistently train your muscles to or close to failure, it’ll facilitate this process. If you’re adding kettlebells to your regimen for more versatility, it will help you cut down on the fat, making your muscles stand out even more.
This kind of training should be performed with some reservation because depending on the lift you’re doing, you can put yourself in a compromised position; consequently, training your muscles in this way should be done with caution and with a partner when possible. Lastly, it would be best to try to move up in weight as you get stronger. You won’t be able to continually stress your muscles if you aren’t adding more weight to your regimen when possible.
This is a common mistake and it can cost you optimal muscle growth in the long run. Moving up in increments of 5 to10 pounds is an excellent way to build your strength when training, especially if you’re just starting out.
Huge muscles naturally correlate with a person’s ability to exert immense force in a single movement or lift. In other words, incorporating explosive movements into your kettlebell routine is of great importance. Doing so, combined with training your muscles to failure and loading your muscles with as much volume as you can stand within reason, will all culminate in weak muscle growth.
An example of an explosive movement that you could implement into your kettlebell routine could be double kettlebell jump squats. See also how to do kettlebell squats to build muscle.
Video: Double Kettlebell Jump Squats
Grinds Over Ballistic Movements
For starters, ballistic movements refer to exercises with the kettlebell whereby it is swung through two-planes of motion, such as swings, cleans, and snatches. These movements excel at improving your performance regarding conditioning and weight loss, but they aren’t as conducive to muscle growth as movements that can be characterized as grinds.
Grinds refer to movements whereby the kettlebell is being lifted up and down, such as presses, squats, windmills, and get-ups. These exercises should be mainstays in your workout routine if you’re looking to put on considerable mass. However, ballistic movements shouldn’t be discarded entirely as these movements can boost your testosterone levels, which can aid muscle growth. Notwithstanding, the bulk of the routine should be done using grind movements.
Short Rest Periods
During your training session, make sure that your rest periods are not extended. Rest periods of about 30 seconds to a full minute are most desirable to facilitate muscle growth. If the goal were to maximize your strength, then more extended rest periods would be needed, but since the ultimate goal is muscle growth, shorter rest periods are necessary. This approach to muscle building is proven to work because it maximizes hormone release and allows for the highest possible volume to be achieved.
Bottom Line on Building Muscle with Kettlebells
Let there be no question as to whether or not exclusive kettlebell training can build appreciable muscle mass. Kettlebells are as versatile as a piece of equipment can get, and it’s evident in its ability to condition, burn fat, and build muscle. Of course, such results are only possible with the proper techniques.
Kettlebells are a viable option for muscle building, and with the right approach, you can put on considerable muscle mass in due time. Just remember, you’ll really have to challenge yourself because you will need to bring the intensity during these training sessions to get the most out of your workouts. Building muscle isn’t easy, but you can achieve the body you want with hard work and dedication.