Morphing arms as scrawny as pipe cleaners into straight-up pipes isn’t as easy as grasping a barbell and curling it until your arms go numb. Yes, barbell curls are a potent mass builder, but neglecting to train the triceps and relying solely on barbells won’t give your arms that extra pop.

Your gym has plenty of lifting tools that’ll help you train the arms aside from barbells, including dumbbells, bands, and TRX. But one you might easily overlook is a multifaceted piece of iron that you normally use to swing, squat, and deadlift.

Due to their unique design, kettlebells promote instability that recruits more muscle fibers as you curl or press. Their shifting weight distribution also increases the amount of time a muscle is kept under tension—and upping the time under tension (TUT) translates into greater muscle and strength gains.

How it works

Along with increasing TUT, standing curls with KBs can prevent overcurling, which reduces stress from the biceps and shifts it to the delts. Plus, subbing in kettlebells on moves like skull crushers and close-grip bench presses will allow your limbs more freedom to move. This, along with your wrists not being locked into place as they would be if using barbells or dumbbells, should help alleviate joint and wrist discomfort, and provide for a more comfortable lift.


For every exercise, you should adhere to a 3-2-0-2 tempo: The first number is the lowering phase, the second number is how long you should pause at the bottom of the move, the third number is the lifting phase, and the fourth number is the pause at the apex of the move. So with a 3-2-0-2 tempo, you'll take 3 seconds to lower the weight, pause at the bottom for 2 seconds, contract the weight as quickly as possible, and then pause for another 2 seconds. Count in your head as you do the exercise, so you're not tempted to cheat.

Exercises marked with a letter (1A and 1B, for example), are performed as supersets/compound sets, meaning you'll do a set of the "A" exercise, a set of the "B" exercise, and then rest before doing the sequence again.

If that proves too difficult for you, you can adjust the weight if necessary. You should rest 30 seconds after each exercise and 90 to 120 seconds between supersets.