Imagine if you could pick up just one tool to train your whole body—and you’d never even need to think about ever pausing or putting the weight down. Your workout would be done in minutes and you wouldn’t need any special equipment. In fact, you could do it at home, or at your aunt’s house, with the old kettlebell she’s been using as a doorstop in the guest room.
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That’s the basic idea behind kettlebell flows, a sequence of exercises that connect seamlessly to challenge your strength, coordination, and endurance.
The following flow, designed by Eric Leija (a.k.a. Primal Swoledier), creator of the Men’s Health Kettlehell program, works your whole body, but with special attention to your arms. You’ll start with a concentration curl to isolate your biceps, and then clean the weight up to shoulder level where you’ll finish with an overhead press. Your legs, glutes, core, and back all contribute to the clean, and the press works your shoulders and triceps.
“This kind of workout makes arm training more functional,” says Leija. “So you’re not just pumping up your bis and tris, but using them to perform exercises that train you to be explosive and powerful in real-world situations, and in sports.”
Concentration Curl To Clean To Shoulder Press
Step 1. Place a light kettlebell on the floor and stand behind it with feet shoulder-width apart. Twist your feet into the ground so that they’re turned a few degrees outward, and you feel your glutes tighten up—keep this tight feeling in your hips throughout the exercise. Maintaining a long spine from your head to your pelvis, bend your hips back (and then your knees as needed) until you can grasp the kettlebell handle (underhand) with your right hand.
Step 2. Brace the back of your arm against your thigh and curl the kettlebell up to your chest, squeezing your biceps at the top. Lower the weight under control until it rests on the floor again.
Step 3. Squeeze your glutes and push through your heels as you extend your hips explosively. Use the momentum to pull the kettlebell up and back toward your side. When you feel it rise to chest level, drive your elbow forward and under the weight so that you catch it at shoulder level. Allow the kettlebell to spin around your wrist so that it doesn’t flop over and smack your forearm.
Step 4. Now, with the kettlebell at shoulder height, press it overhead to lockout in a half-circle motion. Lower the weight to your shoulder again, and then back to the floor. Repeat on the opposite side. That’s one rep.
Perform 3 to 5 sets of 3 to 5 reps on each side, resting 60 seconds between sets. Do this flow at the end of a workout as a finisher, or as a full-body workout of its own that you can do whenever you want to train but are short on time.
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