16 Best Kettlebell Chest Exercises: Pump Up Your Pecs
Pump Up Your Pecs:
16 Best Kettlebell Chest Exercises
Want to add size and strength to your chest without relying solely on barbell bench presses? Look no further than kettlebell chest exercises.
Kettlebells provide a unique training stimulus for the chest muscles. Their offset handle and weight distribution force you to control movement through a fuller range of motion. This enhances muscle activation and tension compared to regular dumbbells.
If you’re looking to sculpt a chiseled chest, carve out that inner chest "slab", or simply strengthen your upper body, kettlebell chest training deserves your attention.
16 Kettlebell Chest Exercises
The following 16 movements will shred your chest from multiple angles by manipulating body position and grip. Program them appropriately into your weekly routine for size and strength gains over time.
1 Kettlebell Floor Chest Press
- How to: Lie on your back with legs bent. Hold a kettlebell in each hand at chest level. Press the kettlebells straight up and lower them back after a brief pause.
- Target Muscles: Chest, triceps, shoulders.
- Tips: Keep your wrists straight, and don't let the kettlebells sway.
2 Half Get Up Chest Press
- How to: Lie on your back with one knee bent and the other leg straight. Hold a kettlebell in the hand on the same side as the bent knee. Press the kettlebell up while keeping your elbow locked.
- Target Muscles: Chest, shoulders, core.
- Tips: Keep your eyes on the kettlebell and move slowly to maintain balance.
3 Stability Ball Kettlebell Chest Press
- How to: Sit on a stability ball and walk forward until your upper back is on the ball. Hold a kettlebell in each hand and press them up like a regular chest press.
- Target Muscles: Chest, triceps, core.
- Tips: Keep your hips lifted and the body in a straight line.
4 Crush Grip Kettlebell Push Up
- How to: Place a kettlebell on the floor. Perform a push-up with your hands on handle of the kettlebell.
- Target Muscles: Chest, triceps.
- Tips: Keep your elbows close to your body to increase tricep engagement.
5 Push Up to Kettlebell Renegade Row
- How to: Place two kettlebells shoulder-width apart. Perform a push-up, then a row with each arm.
- Target Muscles: Chest, back, core.
- Tips: Keep your body straight and avoid rotating your hips during the row.
6 Kettlebell Seesaw Chest Press
- How to: Lie on the floor, press one kettlebell up while lowering the other in an alternating fashion.
- Target Muscles: Chest, shoulders.
- Tips: Keep the movement controlled and steady.
7 Single Decline Floor Press
- How to: Elevate your feet on a bench or step while performing a floor press with one kettlebell
- Target Muscles: Upper chest, triceps.
- Tips: Ensure your shoulders stays flat on the floor.
8 Floor Fly
- How to: Lie on the floor, holding kettlebells above you with a slight bend in your elbows. Lower your arms to the sides, maintaining the elbow bend.
- Target Muscles: Chest.
- Tips: Don’t let your elbows touch the floor; stop just before.
9 Decline Floor Fly
- How to: Similar to the floor fly, but with your feet elevated.
- Target Muscles: Upper chest.
- Tips: Keep the movement slow and controlled.
10 Crush Grip Floor Press
- How to: Holding one kettlebell by the ball instead of the handle perform a floor press.
- Target Muscles: Chest, triceps, forearms.
- Tips: Squeeze the kettlebell throughout the movement.
- How to: Lie on your back holding one kettlebell with both hands above your chest, lower it over your head, and bring it back.
- Target Muscles: Chest, lats.
- Tips: Keep your arms straight and avoid arching your back.
12 Kettlebell Push Up
- How to: Perform push-ups with each hand on a kettlebell.
- Target Muscles: Chest, triceps.
- Tips: Keep your body in a straight line from head to heels.
13 Offset Push Up
- How to: Perform a push-up with one hand on a kettlebell and the other on the floor.
- Target Muscles: Chest, shoulders, core.
- Tips: Alternate the kettlebell between hands each set.
14 Close Grip Push Up
- How to: Place two kettlebells close together and perform push-ups while pressing them together.
- Target Muscles: Chest, triceps, forearms.
- Tips: Ensure a tight grip throughout the exercise.
15 Incline Press Out
- How to: Stand, holding a kettlebell at chest level. Lean forward slightly and press the kettlebell forward and up.
- Target Muscles: Upper chest, shoulders.
- Tips: Keep your core engaged to maintain balance.
16 Upright Front Raise
- How to: Stand and hold a kettlebell with both hands. Raise it to eye level and lower it back down.
- Target Muscles: Shoulders, upper chest.
- Tips: Keep your movements controlled, avoiding momentum.
KettleBell Exercises For The Chest
The kettlebell is an incredibly versatile yet underrated training tool for strengthening the chest muscles. Its unique shape and offset center of mass provides a devilishly challenging stimulus to the pecs when pressed.
While people often default to bench pressing with a barbell or dumbbells for chest development, the awkward nature of kettlebells forces greater activation of stabilizing muscles.
You have to work much harder to control and direct force. The result is greater muscle fiber recruitment in the pecs.
Kettlebells also accommodate a vast array of chest exercises through their diverse movement capabilities.
You can press them, fly them, pull them, rotate them - getting quite creative with chest training. No single piece of equipment can replicate their versatility.
Are Kettlebells Effective for Training Chest?
Many lifters question whether kettlebells provide enough loading potential for adequate chest training compared to a bench press. This is an understandable concern when your frame of reference is a barbell. However, kettlebells certainly produce profound levels of chest activation when used properly.
Research affirms that KB training elicits high pec stimulation.
A 2021 EMG study by Ostrowski et al. discovered that the kettlebell bench press activated the pectoralis major muscle to a similar degree as a standard barbell bench press when compared at the same percentage of 1 Repetition Max.
When performing sets to muscular failure, both the barbell bench press and kettlebell bench press achieved very high, near equal pectoralis muscle activation - 92% and 95% respectively.
This illustrates the sufficiency of KB loading.
Another study by Lake & Lauder examined 16 different kettlebell exercises, measuring muscle activity in the pecs.
The Crush Grip Floor Press elicited the highest pectoralis activation out of all moves, displaying extremely high EMG readings.
Therefore, proper selection and execution of kettlebell chest exercises can most certainly provide a growth stimulus. Their offset weight distribution produces tremendous contractile demands. Let’s explore the best applications!
Kettlebell Chest Training Tips
Here are some quick tips for effective kettlebell chest training:
- Go heavier than you think. Challenge your strength limits while maintaining safe form.
- Use variety. Regularly rotate different angles, body positions, unilateral work, and grips.
- Slow it down. Control eccentric and concentric phase for greater time under tension.
- Get full ROM. Stretch pecs at bottom, powerfully contract them at the top.
- Brace your core during presses to maximize force transfer and reduce lower back strain.
Adding these ruthless kettlebell moves into your current chest regimen will give those pecs a new spark toward further growth. Deliberately train them once or twice per week in place of normal bench pressing for 4-8 weeks.
By exposing your chest to novel angles, loading parameters, and stability demands, you'll come back stronger for your regular barbell pressing too. Expand your training variety and bring up your chest!
Kettlebells deliver one heck of a chest workout. Through manipulating body angles and positions, you can train the pecs in ways no bench press allows. Challenge your muscles from new angles and prepare for growth!
For more ideas on creative muscle building, check out my full programs here. I combine kettlebells with bodyweight and barbell lifting for maximum results. Hope to see you there!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best kettlebell for chest exercises?
The best kettlebell for chest exercises will depend on your fitness level and the specific movement. In general, use a heavier kettlebell between 15-25 lbs to effectively train your chest.
Make sure you have proper form before progressing to heavier weights. Grip the kettlebell firmly and keep your core braced.
What are some of the best kettlebell chest exercises?
Some of the top-rated kettlebell chest exercises are: kettlebell floor chest press, half get up chest press, stability ball chest press, close grip push ups, push up to renegade row, crush grip floor press, and seesaw press.
Refer to the list above of 16 best kettlebell chest exercises for details on each movement.
How often should I do a kettlebell chest workout?
Aim to train your chest with kettlebells 1-2 times per week, allowing about 48 hours of rest between kettlebell chest sessions. This gives your chest adequate recovery time to rebuild and grow stronger.
How can I build bigger pecs using kettlebells?
To build bigger pec muscles with kettlebells focus on controlled motions through a full range of motion, progressive overload by increasing weight over time, training to muscle fatigue, and getting a powerful contraction by squeezing your chest at the top of each rep.
What muscles make up the chest?
The chest muscles, clinically known as pectoralis major and minor, consist of larger fan-shaped muscle of the upper chest and a smaller underlying muscle. Strong chest muscles are important for pushing and pressing strength.
What are the 16 best kettlebell chest exercises?
Refer to the extensive list above for details on the top 16 most effective kettlebell chest exercises, ranked in order. Movements like floor press, half get up press, and crush grip press are savage.
Are kettlebells good for all chest exercises?
Kettlebells are extremely versatile for comprehensive chest training. Their unique shape and offset center of mass allows for creative multi-plane presses, flies, push ups, pullovers and more. No fitness equipment can replicate their diversity for chest.
What chest exercises can I do if I only have one kettlebell?
Great single kettlebell chest moves are: floor press, pullover, kettlebell push up, seesaw press, one-arm floor press, crush grip push up, incline press, and single-arm decline press. Get creative with angles!
Should I do kettlebell or dumbbell chest exercises?
It’s best to incorporate both kettlebells and dumbbells for comprehensive chest training over time, taking advantage of their unique benefits. Kettlebells challenge control and stability while dumbbells allow easier bilateral movements.
My Experience With Kettlebell Chest Training
Take it from me - kettlebells will give your pecs a beating unlike anything you've felt before! When I first started getting into kettlebell training, I was addicted to the standard barbell bench press like most gym rats. But after injuring my shoulder from poor benching form, I needed a chest workout alternative.
That's when a buddy suggested I give kettlebells a try. Man, did those awkward chunks of iron put my chest through the ringer! After getting crushed on the kettlebell floor press for the first time and having trouble lifting my arms for 3 days, I realized these are not to be taken lightly!
Smoked Chest Muscles and Bruised Ribs
The moment you clean a kettlebell into the rack position across your chest is humbling. The handle jams straight into your rib cage as gravity tugs it downward when you lie back. I've nearly dropped a bell on my face more times than I can count!
But it's worth embracing the discomfort to experience seriously pumped pecs. Swinging kettlebells explosively on the clean, then controlling each rep slowly with a braced core will have your chest begging for mercy. Just don't make my mistake and try to impress the ladies with heavy singles - I pulled a pec on week two!
5 Best Kettlebell Moves to Try
From the teeth-gritting floor press to the core blasting renegade row hybrids, kettlebells expand your training possibilities. I still rotate all my favorite barbell lifts but make sure to work these 12 kettlebell shockers into my monthly chest programming:
- Kettlebell Floor Chest Press
- Half Get Up Chest Press
- Stability Ball Kettlebell Chest Press
- Close Grip Kettlebell Push Up
- Push Up to Kettlebell Renegade Row
I'm making steady progress towards my goal of adding 2 inches to my chest measurement after a year of well-rounded kettlebell training. Maybe someday I'll have pecs like the legendary strongmen!
But for now, I'm happy hammering away with my trusty kettlebell - black eye or two along the way.
For More Training Advice + Diet and Lifestyle visit us RIPL Fitness
PS: Make sure you check out the rest of our Chest Training Guides: