Kettlebells – upper body kettlebell circuit

Once you’ve completed a beginner kettlebell circuit, you’ll probably want to move onto something a bit more challenging – like my upper body kettlebell circuit.  I put together this upper body strength & stamina circuit in preparation for joining a jiu jitsu school when I eventually pass my driving test (the school is quite far away!).

I figured I’d be at an advantage if I already have relatively good strength and stamina in my arms, core & back before I start.

Firstly, stick with 3x a week for this circuit.  It’s not going to help if you try to be a hero & burn yourself out after 6 consecutive days.  You should choose a light weight to begin with, but also challenge yourself.  Don’t just stick with 8kg forever, you need to progress & get stronger.  Aim to increase the reps, circuits, or weight of at least one of the exercises every 2 or 3 times you train.

  1. Swings x 15 – My go-to kettlebell exercise.  Will strengthen your core muscles.
  2. Military press x 4 – Use 2 bells if possible. Develops explosive shoulder strength.
  3. Alternating floor press x 8 (each arm) – Rotate your hips a little on the opposite side to the one you’re pressing.  This increases your lateral pressing strength & simulates throwing punches when you’re on your back.
  4. Alternating bent over row x 8 (each arm) – In the spirit of being balanced, this exercise should always be the same as the Alternating floor press in terms of volume.  Strengthens your back & simulates throwing punches down on your opponent.
Kettlebells : A cannon-ball with a handle.

Kettlebells : A cannon-ball with a handle.

I’ve been doing this for about a month, and I’ve increased the total number of circuits, reps of sets and weights to :-

7 Circuits of…

  1. Swings 24kg  x 15.
  2. Curls (I just threw these in straight after swings, you can leave them out if you like) 24kg x 6.
  3. Military press (16 kettlebells x 2 = 32kg) x 8.
  4. Alternating floor press (16kg x 2 = 32kg total) x 14
  5. Alternating bent over row (16kg x 2 = 32kg total) x 14

1 minute rest in between sets, and lots of water.

If you’re thinking of joining a fighting school, or you’re already a fighter, give this a shot & let me know how it works out.  I promise you your upper body strength and stamina will increase week on week, and this will absolutely translate into your sparring sessions or fights.


About the author: James



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