Overhead Kettlebell Carries

Zach Matheny


     When I first started training for athletics in my teenage years, the kettlebell was always puzzling. I was never really introduced to the kettlebell until my time at Old School. It is an awkward object to lift which makes it’s a great tool when done correctly. The kettlebell is often used as a stabilizing mechanism for athletes in the gym. Specifically, kettlebell overhead carries and using them as an accessory movement for powerlifters, bodybuilders, and general practitioners. 


The Benefit

     Before all else, healthy shoulders will keep you in the weightlifting game much longer. Overhead kettlebell carries will build up the stabilization muscles of the shoulder girdle which will result in much healthier shoulders. In addition to healthy shoulders, the ability to stabilize weight overhead will promote hypertrophy and strength in the shoulders/upper back. In the sport of powerlifting, having a strong upper back is needed to press heavy weight, support a heavy barbell on your back, and stabilize a neutral spine in the deadlift. For bodybuilders, the hypertrophy in the shoulders/upper back will widen the upper body and help with the appearance of the ‘v-taper’ that is sought after.


The Movement

     Start light and work your way up. Grab a kettlebell that is around 25% of your max overhead press and progress heavier each set. Press the kettlebell overhead—fully locking out the shoulder, elbow, and letting the kettlebell rest on the back of the wrist/forearm. Begin to walk, bracing the core to help with stabilization, neutral spine, and focusing on pressing the kettlebell throughout the duration of the walk to stabilize the shoulder girdle. My walks have consisted of 150-200ft per arm for multiple sets. Preform this movements on your shoulder and/or bench accessory days and begin to see hypertrophy/increased stabilization in the upper back and shoulders.


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