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Biceps Curls With Kettlebells: Benefits and How To

Updated on July 6, 2019
Lorra Garrick profile image

Former ACE-certified personal trainer Lorra Garrick has trained men & women for fat loss, muscle building, more strength and more fitness.

So why use kettlebells to exercise the biceps? There are several reasons why a person would want to consider using this implement.

A Different and Inviting Feel

Yes, kettlebells provide a new kind of feel to the hand and fingers when holding them. The handles are usually thicker than those of dumbbells and pre-weighted barbells, as well as thicker than the diameter of straight bars and other fixtures that are used with cable equipment. Many people will find this thicker feel more comfortable and appealing.

Different Lifting Dynamics

Curling a kettlebell is not the same as curling a dumbbell of the same weight. When a person curls a dumbbell, the resistance is on either side of the hand. In the case of a kettlebell, the resistance is situated below the hand and forces the trainee to be more aware of exactly what is happening during the lift.

Kettlebells can be used when the dumbbells you want to work with are in use. Rather than wait, go ahead and start working with the kettlebells.

Simply stand, feet about shoulder width apart, arms straight at your sides holding the kettlebells. Begin curling. There is no need to try to bring the weight up as high as possible. Keep the upper arm vertical and move only the elbow joint.

Don’t move the shoulder joint if you want to thoroughly target the biceps muscles. Maintain a tight grip on the handles for extra tension and flex the elbows to work the biceps.

Squeeze the handles at the top of the movement (even if the top has the forearm only parallel with the floor rather than above parallel), then lower with control. At the bottom of the movement, the weights should be on either side of the body, rather than hanging in front of the body.

This means that the elbows should be on either side of the body, rather than digging into the front of the body, like some people (especially beginners) mistakenly do.

Kettlebells can also be used for concentration curls. To do a concentration curl, have a seat, with the weight between the feet on the floor. Legs are open, and the elbow of the lifting arm is against the inner thigh of the same side.

Pick up the weight and curl, keeping the elbow anchored against the inner area of the thigh, while the other hand is usually on the other thigh. Release with control, letting the arm hang only a split second before flexing the elbow for the next repetition.

The higher a person raises their arm during biceps curls with kettlebells, the more awkward it will feel, due to the design of this instrument.

However, as already mentioned, it is not necessary to flex the elbow as much as possible. A curl of just a 90 degree bend in the elbow is sufficient for an excellent training effect, as long as enough resistance is used, and the release is controlled.

What about reverse curls?

Reverse curls are great with kettlebells. Many will love the different feel with the thick handle and the way that the weight hangs below the palm. When performing reverse curls with this tool, the trainee should keep their wrists/hands aligned with their forearms. In other words, don’t let the wrist go limp or flop during the movement.

Thus, as the elbow is flexing, hands moving upward, don’t allow the wrist to end up forming a 90 degree angle to the underside of the forearm. The purpose of a reverse curl is to target the forearm muscles.

Allowing the wrist to flop forward during the lift will subtract tension from the very muscles that you want to target. It’s a cheat move. Keeping the wrist/hand aligned with the forearm will strengthen the muscles that control the wrist. Don’t flop.

Biceps curls with kettlebells will be an inviting change for many men and women. This style of training need not replace all of one’s biceps exercises, but at least try a few sets out with kettlebells to see if you don’t find it a refreshing change from the usual.


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