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3 Kettlebell Push Pull Workouts for the Upper Body

By Greg Brookes

kettlebell push pull workouts for the upper body

If you want to maintain a balanced and injury free body then using kettlebell push pull workouts is the solution.

It is very common for many people to focus on the muscles at the front of the body because they are the ones that are seen in the mirror.

However, too many pushing exercises can lead to rounded shoulders, a tight chest, upper crossed syndrome and frequent shoulder injuries.

Balancing your kettlebell workouts by using a push pull format ensures that you always match every pushing exercise with a pulling exercise.

Below I have listed 3 Kettlebell Push Pull Workouts starting with the easiest and progressing to the most challenging:

1Kettlebell Push Pull Workout for the Upper Body

Our first kettlebell push pull workout starts out with two very important exercises, the row and the push up.

Don’t forget to warm up before starting this workout, the most effective way to do this is to perform a few rows with a lighter kettlebell and practice a few push ups with your hands up on a bench or against a wall.

Kettlebell Push Pull Workout 1

  • Kettlebell Regular Row x 5 – 12 reps each side
  • Push Up x as many reps as possible
  • Rest 60 seconds and repeat for 3 circuits

The format for this workout is very simple, perform one exercise after the other and then take a rest before repeating.

Beginners should start out with a lighter kettlebell and perform more repetitions where as those more advanced can increase the weight and reduce the reps.

Kettlebell Regular Row

Kettlebell Regular Row Exercise

The kettlebell row is the ultimate strength and muscle building back exercise.

Lean forward approximately 45 degrees and keep your weight back on your heels to load the hamstrings.

Row the kettlebell up and backwards towards your hip.

Most importantly avoid shrugging your shoulders, keep your shoulders away from your ears at all time.

Make sure you pause at the top of the exercise and lower the kettlebell slowly with control.

Variations: once you have mastered the one handed row you can progress to holding a kettlebell in each hand. You can then row both kettlebells together or alternate arms.

Learn more: 10 Kettlebell Exercises for the Back

Watch a video of the kettlebell regular row below:

Push Up

Bodyweight Push Ups Exercise

The regular push up is a very underestimated exercise for building the chest, shoulders and core muscles.

Ultimately the push up is a moving plank exercise so the core needs to be braced throughout and a straight line created from the shoulders to the heels.

If you struggle to keep your body in a straight line without your hips dropping towards the floor then you should practice the plank / shoulder taps exercises instead.

When performing the push up the elbows should fold back along your body rather than out to the sides.

Correct elbow position will help protect your shoulders and prevent injury.

Variations: there are many push up variations but working on correct form and using a slow tempo with a pause at the bottom of the push up should be your priority.

Learn more: 51 Bodyweight exercises you can do anywhere

Watch a tutorial video of the push up below:

2Kettlebell Push Pull Workout for the Upper Body

Our second kettlebell push pull workout is more challenging and builds on the strength developed from the previous workout.

We start with the renegade row which has elements of both push and pull built into the exercise.

The second exercise, the push press, is used to develop brute strength and adds some serious muscle to the shoulders and upper body.

Again I recommend warming up by performing the exercises for one set with a much lighter weight.

Kettlebell Push Pull Workout 2

  • Kettlebell Renegade Row x 5 – 12 reps each side
  • Kettlebell Push Press x 5 – 12 reps each side
  • Rest 60 seconds and repeat for 3 circuits

This kettlebell pull push workout is performed as a superset meaning that you complete both exercises one after the other before taking a short rest and then repeating.

The more experienced you are with these exercises the more weight and less repetitions you can perform. Beginners should start off light and perform more reps.

Kettlebell Renegade Row

Kettlebell Renegade Row Exercise

The kettlebell renegade row is possibly one of the most challenging exercises but a great full body rowing movement.

It is important that you can perform both of the exercises in the first workout, the row and the push up, before attempting these exercises.

The body needs to be held in a perfect straight line throughout the movement from shoulders to heel.

A weak core or an inability to stabilise in the top push up position will only lead to lower back issues.

Care should be taken that one of the kettlebells does not fall sideways and crush your fingers.

A safer way to perform this exercise is to use just one kettlebell and have the other hand on a box, bench or, my favourite, a parallette.

Variations: row one side and then the other, row one side at a time or support one hand on a box using just one kettlebell.

Learn more: 52 Kettlebell Exercises to Try Right Now

Watch a video of the kettlebell renegade row below:

Kettlebell Push Press

Kettlebell Push Press Exercise

The kettlebell push press is the ultimate strength and muscle builder for the upper body.

The push press is a slight variation on the kettlebell overhead press except it uses the legs slightly to help start the movement.

During the push press the knees are bent very slightly before they are locked out and the buttocks squeezed tightly.

The initial pop or momentum that you get from the slight squat enables you to press the kettlebell more easily from the bottom position.

Ultimately the push press enables you to lift heavier kettlebell weights.

Variations: you can use the push press with one kettlebell or two, use the strict overhead press or use the clean and press for more of a full body exercise.

Want more? Complete Guide to the Kettlebell Overhead Press

Watch a video of the kettlebell push press exercise below:

3Kettlebell Push Pull Workout for the Upper Body

Our final kettlebell push pull workout is more technical and more cardiovascular.

You will be activating most of the muscles in your body with this workout while at the same time balancing pushing and pulling movements.

The kettlebell snatch offers a full body exercise that is predominately a pulling movement. Whereas the Turkish get up is a stabilisating pushing exercise that will strengthen your whole body and improve your mobility.

As with the other two kettlebell workouts you should warm up by performing one set of the workout with a lighter kettlebell.

Kettlebell Push Pull Workout 3

  • Kettlebell Snatch x 5 – 12 reps each side
  • Kettlebell Turkish Get Up x 1 – 3 reps each side
  • Rest 60 seconds and repeat for 3 circuits

You can perform this workout in one of two ways.

One option, like the two previous workouts, is to perform one exercise after the other before resting and then repeating.

The other option is to perform 3 sets of the first exercise, resting after each set and then moving on to the second exercise and performing that in the same way.

Kettlebell Snatch

Kettlebell Snatch Exercise

The kettlebell snatch is a full body explosive exercise that is based on a pulling movement pattern.

As the snatch is based on the deadlift movement most of the power comes from the hips to start the momentum of the kettlebell.

The back muscles are used to assist the movement and control the kettlebell overhead.

The kettlebell snatch is different from the kettlebell swing in that the kettlebell is kept close to the body throughout the whole exercise.

At the top of the exercise punch your hand through the handle to stop the kettlebell flopping over and hitting the wrist.

Variations: the kettlebell can be taken from the top position either by throwing it back over the top in the same direction that the kettlebell went up or by corkscrewing the kettlebell down around the wrist.

For those that really struggle with the downward part of the exercise the kettlebell can be lowered slowly as if coming down from an overhead press.

Learn more: Ultimate Guide to the Kettlebell Snatch

Watch a video of the kettlebell snatch exercise below:

Kettlebell Turkish Get Up

Kettlebell Turkish Get Up Exercise

The kettlebell Turkish get up exercise is the ultimate full body mobilising and strengthening exercise.

As you work your way through the various positions of the exercise you will notice your stabilising muscles as well as your mobility is challenged.

Take notice of what parts of the exercise are the most difficult and practice those particular movements.

Deficiencies that are highlighted during the kettlebell Turkish get up will be magnified in other areas of your movement and daily life.

So use the Turkish get up as an assessment tool for where you need to focus your attention.

Variations: beginners should practice the exercise without holding a kettlebell to get used to the movements. Once you have mastered the exercise, progressively add a heavier load.

Learn more: Ultimate Guide to the Kettlebell Turkish Get Up

Watch a video of the kettlebell Turkish get up exercise below:

Conclusion of Kettlebell Push Pull Workouts for the Upper Body

Above I have listed 3 kettlebell Push Pull Workouts that you can use to strengthen and condition your upper body.

These kettlebell workouts are listed in order of difficultly and each workout acts as a prerequisite for the next one.

Beginners should practice workout one 2 – 4 times per week for 2 – 4 weeks before progressing onto workout two.

Those who are more advanced could combine two or three of these workouts into a much larger workout.

Kettlebell Push Pull workouts are an excellent choice for balancing out your body and ensure that you do not overtrain one particular area more than the other.

Take care and enjoy the workouts.

To see more posts about push workouts, go here.

Have you tried any of these Kettlebell Push Pull Workouts? Let me know more:

10 best kettlebell workouts

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    1. Marco Avatar

      Great workouts Greg as usual. I was just wondering, would it be ok to split exercises in to a pull day and a push day maybe?

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Yes that is possible Marco and excxatly what I do in my Muscle Building program.

    2. George Themelis Avatar
      George Themelis

      Hi Greg
      I’m new to kettlebells but have found your 4 beginners circuits on Youtube to be incredibly helpful. Just wondering; any plans to post your 3 Push Pulls on there as well? It’s so easy to stream from my iPad to the TV and follow along.

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Thanks George, yes I’ll be filming a lot more of my workouts later in the year and adding them to the website. If you subscribe to my newsletter I’ll let you know when they are available.