Monthly Archives: June 2013

Exercise of the Month: Kettlebell Arm Bar

Hello everybody, welcome to my first edition of the exercise of the month, the Kettlebell Arm Bar.  It is very nice to have some time off from school so I can put some work into this blog.  And my brain is fresh so you know you are getting top quality work!

Since kettlebells are a pretty big thing these days, and they are found in almost every gym, I figured I’d start off the exercise of the month with a great shoulder strengthener/mobilizer/stabilizer that I use every week I work out.


Why I love this exercise:

· Improves your shoulder stability:  The kettlebells have this great feature that no other piece of gym equipment can offer, the center of gravity of the weight is not in your hand.  With a kettlebell, the majority of the weight is in the bell which is not what you’re holding.  You are holding the handle, which is being pulled down by the weight of the bell.  This allows for greater muscle activity/stabilization as the resistance arm has A) been increased and B) requires higher control of the muscles at hand.  This all allows for the shoulders stabilization to increase.

· Improves Thoracic mobility – As you roll over and drive your hips into the ground, this will open up your thoracic spine, making it more mobile.  Combine a mobility movement with stability and watch your range of motion increase.  We call this sticking.  It’s very common to stretch and a day later be just as tight as the day before.  But add some strength and stability during a mobility exercise, and watch it stick. Meaning 2, 3, 4, 100 days later, you will feel looser then you do right now, not doing this exercise.

· Improves shoulder strength – By teaching your body how to stabilize itself through the lats and rotator cuff, it well help increase the strength of shoulder by association.  The shoulders thrive off stability.  An unstable shoulder will leave lots of weights on the ground, and will keep you from reaching your full potential.  The more stable those shoulders are, the stronger your grip is; the stronger irradiation of energy through your body equals you being stronger and less likely to get hurt.  What’s not to like about that?


· First, for safety reasons, we begin cradling the kettlebell.  That is us lying on our sides grasping the kettlebell between interlaced fingers – seen in video above.

· From here we can safely roll over onto our back.  Extending the arm that is holding the KB and bending the knee with the same side leg.

· Once in position, get the core tight and pack your scapula.  I like using the cue spread your lats rather then pull shoulder blades back and down.  But you can use whatever gives you the best results.

· Once set, you must rotate over to your side; keep in mind you are not mindlessly rotating.  Your body must stay connected and you must rotate through your core, the whole body rotates as a segment.  To do this you must push your heels into the ground and keep your glutes tight.  This will allow you to get to your side.

· From here, maintain your tightness as your lift your leg up and over the stationary leg.

· Now, squeeze your glutes hard as if you were trying to press your pelvis into the floor.  Almost as if you were trying really hard to lay on your belly.

· Hold for a specific count or amount of breaths.  I typically do 15 seconds, but it depends on your goals here, and rationale for doing arm bars in the first place.

· Once you’re done with the rep, roll back over to your back with the same tightness you rolled over with.

· Pull the KB back to your chest.

· Roll over to the cradled position.


· … Now do the other side.

Currently, the way I am inserting this exercise into my workouts is I super-set it with my bench press.  I will do this exercise before I bench so it will increase my shoulder stabilization and work on me using my lats, since the lats are a big player in a strong bench press.

You can also use this on your off days, as a warm-up or during any other part of your workout, as long as you have a reason to increase shoulder mobility, stability and strength (which will ALWAYS be the case).