Strengthen your arms and shoulders in minutes with this three-move kettlebell workout that's perfect for beginners

Train your upper body with this three-move kettlebell workout

Woman does kettlebell workout
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Kettlebells are a great strength training tool. You can use them for upper-body workouts and for lower-body moves like goblet squats, too. They also open the door to lots of fun exercises like kettlebell swings, which help build explosive strength. 

This kettlebell routine from personal trainer Alanah Bray, of Fitagain Retreats, specifically targets your upper body. As it only has three moves, it won't take you too long to finish and it's easy to memorize for your next gym trip. Scroll down to see the list of exercises and explainers for each move.

Alanah Bray
Alanah Bray

Alanah Bray is a dedicated master trainer at the UK-based Fitagain gym and fitness retreats. She specializes in fitness for the over 40s and her approach to exercise emphasizes the importance of stretching, mobility, and strength

Upper-body kettlebell workout

  • Triceps push up: 3x12
  • Single bent over row: 3x12 on each side
  • Single arm shoulder press : 3x12 on each side

1. Tricep push up

Personal trainer Alanah Bray performs kettlebell press-up

(Image credit: Gemma Buckland-Tomlin)

Sets: 3 Reps: 12

  • Place a kettlebell on the floor and kneel in front of it. Lean forward, grip the kettlebell handle with both hands, and shift your weight into your forearms and hands while maintaining a straight back with chest up. Ensure elbows are facing backwards, arms are fully extended and that you're looking down at 45-degrees with a straight neck. 
  • Bend the elbows, slowly lowering the chest towards the kettlebell, ensuring full control.
  • At the bottom of the movement, push off the kettlebell, extending the elbows back to the starting position. 

2. Single arm shoulder press

Personal trainer Alanah Bray performs single arm shoulder press

(Image credit: Gemma Buckland-Tomlin)

Sets: 3 Reps: 12 on each side

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold a kettlebell in one hand over your shoulder, palm facing to the front. Keep your back straight and engage your core muscles. Add stability by placing your non-working arm on your hip.
  • Press the kettlebell over your head by extending your elbow.
  • Lower the kettlebell down to shoulder height in a slow and controlled manner.

3. Single bent over row

Personal trainer Alanah Bray performs single arm bent over row

(Image credit: Gemma Buckland-Tomlin)

Sets: 3 Reps: 12 on each side

  • Place a kettlebell in front of you. Adopt a split stance with your left foot in front, hinge at the hips and lean forward, keeping your back straight. The kettlebell should be to the right side of your front foot. You can place your left hand on your left thigh to improve stability.
  • Pick the kettlebell up with your right hand and pull it towards your hip by bending your arm at the elbow. Keep the kettlebell close to your body and engage your core, so your body doesn't move. Focus on squeezing your shoulder blades tightly throughout the movement and remember to drive with the elbow, not the hand.

Need help picking your next strength training tool? Our guide to the best kettlebells can help

Lou Mudge
Fitness Writer

Lou Mudge is a Health Writer at Future Plc, working across Fit&Well and Coach. She previously worked for Live Science, and regularly writes for and Pet's Radar. Based in Bath, UK, she has a passion for food, nutrition and health and is eager to demystify diet culture in order to make health and fitness accessible to everybody.

Multiple diagnoses in her early twenties sparked an interest in the gut-brain axis and the impact that diet and exercise can have on both physical and mental health. She was put on the FODMAP elimination diet during this time and learned to adapt recipes to fit these parameters, while retaining core flavors and textures, and now enjoys cooking for gut health.