kettlebell chest exercises
Fitness

13 Kettlebell Chest Exercises For A Stronger Upper Body

This article focuses on creating a superb kettlebell chest workout that will target your chest muscles, your triceps, and your deltoids. Working the chest with kettlebells is not that common, as kettlebell training usually focuses on full body and lower body exercises, so you may not have heard of these exercises before!

1. Kettlebell Floor Chest Press

Muscles Worked

Pectorals, deltoids, triceps

Equipment

Kettlebell

Step by Step

  1. Lie on back with knees bent and feet flat on floor. Hold a kettlebell in each hand so that the bell is on the outside of your fist.
  2. Take a deep breath and then drive both kettlebells straight up in the air, bringing them closer together as they rise.
  3. Pause, and then slowly lower them back down to the starting position

Tips

Keep your head back on the ground as you perform this, try to prevent it from rising off the ground

2. Alternating Arms Kettlebell Floor Chest Press

Muscles Worked

Pectorals, deltoids, triceps

Equipment

Kettlebell

Step by Step

  1. Lie on back with knees bent and feet flat on floor. Hold a kettlebell in each hand so that the bell is on the outside of your fist.
  2. Take a deep breath and then raise one kettlebell straight up in the air. Breathe out as you do so.
  3. Pause, and then lower it to the ground, raising your other kettlebell up as you do so

Tips

Keep your opposite shoulder joint flat on the ground as you raise the kettlebell

3. Close Grip Floor Chest Press

Muscles Worked

Pectorals, deltoids, triceps

Equipment

Kettlebell

Step by Step

  1. Lie on back with knees bent and feet flat on floor. Hold a kettlebell between your two hands, resting on your chest. It should be in a comfortable position. 
  2. Take a deep breath and then drive the kettlebell straight up in the air
  3. Pause, and then slowly lower it back down to the starting position

Tips

Keep your elbows close to your body as you do this. This close grip kettlebell chest press will really hit your triceps when performed correctly. You’ll want to be in a strong glute bridge position to start. 

4. Single Arm Kettlebell Chest Press

Muscles Worked

Pectorals, deltoids, triceps

Equipment

Kettlebell

Step by Step

  1. Lie on back with knees bent and feet flat on floor. Hold a kettlebell in one hand so that the bell is on the outside of your fist. This is called the rack position.
  2. Take a deep breath and then raise one kettlebell straight up in the air. Breathe out as you do so.
  3. Pause, and then lower it to the ground. Repeat for required reps, and then swap arms.
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Tips

Start with your weaker arm first, so that you know that you can perform enough reps with that particular weight. You can use a heavy kettlebell for this but make sure you can get it into a comfortable position easily.

5. Kettlebell Bench Press

Muscles Worked

Pectorals, deltoids, triceps

Equipment

Kettlebell, bench

Step by Step

  1. Lie on a bench holding a kettlebell in each hand so that the bell is on the outside of your fist in the rack position.
  2. Take a deep breath and then push both kettlebells up into the air, bringing them closer together as they rise.
  3. Pause, and then slowly lower them back down to the starting position

Tips

Push your feet into the ground and keep your head flat on the bench. This will give you more power.

6. Kettlebell Single Arm Bench Press

Muscles Worked

Pectorals, deltoids, triceps

Equipment

Kettlebell, bench

Step by Step

  1. Lie on bench with your feet flat on floor. Hold a kettlebell in one hand so that the bell is on the outside of your fist. You want it at chest level. 
  2. Take a deep breath and then raise one kettlebell straight up in the air. Breathe out as you do so.
  3. Pause, and then lower your arm back to the starting position. Repeat for required reps, and then swap arms.

Tips

Keep your shoulder blades pulled together and your chest pushed out while performing this exercise. This is one of the more advanced movements in this article with huge muscle activation. 

7. Incline Kettlebell Bench Press

Muscles Worked

Pectorals, deltoids, triceps

Equipment

Kettlebell, bench

Step by Step

  1. Lie on an incline bench (45 degrees holding a kettlebell in each hand so that the bell is on the outside of your fist. Place your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Take a deep breath and then push both kettlebells up into the air, bringing them closer together as they rise.
  3. Pause with each kettlebell overhead, and then slowly lower them back down to the starting position

Tips

It’s easier to set up the kettlebells in the racked position while sitting upright and then lie down than to try and pick the kettlebells up from the floor while lying on the bench. If you are struggling to get a full range of motion, use a lighter kettlebell. This will really target the upper pec muscles. 

8. Kettlebell Push Up

Muscles Worked

Pectorals, deltoids, triceps

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Equipment

Kettlebell

Step by Step

  1. Using two heavy kettlebells, set yourself up in the push up plank position while holding onto the handles of the kettlebells. There can be a slight bend in your arms. 
  2. Slowly lower yourself down until your chest is in line with the kettlebells, then drive back upwards

Tips

The larger the kettlebells you use, the easier it is to balance and perform the exercise.

9. Kettlebell Single Arm Push Up

Muscles Worked

Pectorals, deltoids, triceps

Equipment

Kettlebell

Step by Step

  1. Get into the push up position with one hand resting on a large kettlebell and the other flat on the floor
  2. Lower yourself down until chest is almost touching the floor
  3. Drive yourself back upwards, back to the starting position. Repeat for requisite reps and then swap sides.

Tips

Place your hands on the bell itself rather than on the handle to remove any balance issues. This is one of the best kettlebell exercises for chest development. And it is one of our favorite chest-building exercises. 

10. Kettlebell Squat & Press

Muscles Worked

Pectorals, deltoids, triceps, quads, hamstrings, glutes, abs

Equipment

Kettlebell

Step by Step

  1. Stand upright with feet shoulder width apart and toes pointing slightly out. Hold a kettlebell at chest height. Push your chest out and pull your shoulders back.
  2. Take a deep breath then squat down to at least parallel, breathing out as you do.
  3. When you reach parallel, push the kettlebell forwards, then pull it back in.
  4. Rise back up to the starting position

Tips

This will also really work the shoulders, so keep that in mind when picking the correct sized kettlebell. This targets the core muscles as well as the legs and the pectoral muscles. If you can’t get a good range of motion, then use a smaller kettlebell. This exercise also has a single-arm version, though it can be difficult to perform. If you are incorporating kettlebell training into a full-body circuit then this is a great addition.

11. Kettlebell Push Up into Renegade Row

Muscles Worked

Pectorals, deltoids, triceps, lats, traps, biceps, abs

Equipment

Kettlebell

Step by Step

  1. Using two medium sized kettlebells, set yourself up in the push up position while holding onto the handles of the kettlebells.
  2. Slowly lower yourself down until your chest is in line with the kettlebells, then drive back upwards
  3. Once you’ve risen back to the starting position, pull one kettlebell up into your armpit. Pause, then lower it.
  4. Repeat this with the other kettlebell. Keeping your elbow close to your side as you do so.

Tips

Try not to rotate your torso as you pull the kettlebell up towards your armpits. A little movement is okay but try to stay still. This is a great upper body exercise.

12. Kettlebell Pullover (Floor)

Muscles Worked

Pectorals, deltoids, triceps, abdominals

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Equipment

Kettlebell

Step by Step

  1. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold a kettlebell in both hands above your head, resting on the floor.
  2. Take a deep breath, and then pull the kettlebell until it is situated above your chest with your arms straight out in front of you.
  3. Pause, and then return to starting position.

Tips

Use a lighter weight and perform this exercise slowly and with full control. Too often, people go big with the weight and try to use the momentum of “bouncing” the kettlebell off the ground. This is also a great exercise for the core muscles. 

13. Kettlebell Pullover (Bench)

Muscles Worked

Pectorals, deltoids, triceps, abdominals

Equipment

Kettlebell, bench

Step by Step

  1. Lie on your weight bench with your head resting right at the top of it and feet flat on the floor. Hold a kettlebell in both hands above your head, so that it is parallel to the ground.
  2. Take a deep breath, and then pull the kettlebell until it is situated above your chest with your arms straight out in front of you.
  3. Pause, and then return to starting position.

Tips

Many people perform the dumbbell version of this, but kettlebells actually provide more chest activation. The kettlebell pullover really works the core muscles as well as the pecs, deltoids, and triceps. 

Conclusion

Working the chest muscles with kettlebells is a great idea, and will really help you to learn more exciting kettlebell exercises. The explosive movement that many kettlebell movements provide lends itself well to the chest muscles.

There’s so much more to kettlebells than just the kettlebell swing (as good as it is). Mixing in some kettlebell chest exercises with bodyweight routines, dumbbell, and barbell exercises is a smart move for most lifters. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Kettlebells Good for Chest?

Kettlebells are usually used for explosive movements or cardio workouts. They are rarely used for strength or hypertrophy training. So it depends on what your goals are. Kettlebell workouts can help you to define your chest by burning calories, and beginners will definitely see an improvement in their chest strength and shape.

But more experienced lifters may struggle to see progress, even if they use a heavier weight, as kettlebells are not ideal for hypertrophy. Sticking to conventional chest barbell and dumbbell exercises may make more sense for experienced lifters.

Do Kettlebell Swings Help Bench?

No, not particularly. The kettlebell swing has no real chest activation and doesn’t really target the triceps. There is a little shoulder joint activation, and the core strength may make a small difference. But the truth is that kettlebell swings are more about the lower back, hamstrings, glutes, and core.

Matthew Smith

Matthew Smith is a Level 3 Personal Trainer with the Register of Exercise Professionals. He gained a BTEC National Diploma in Sports Science from London Metropolitan University. He has trained people both online and in-person for over 7 years and has written over 1,000 articles on fitness and nutrition subjects.

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