The Kettlebell Armbar

Since I know everyone loves kettlebell stuff, I figured this would be a great time to talk about kettlebell arm bars.

Arm bars are an exercise that very few people seem to know about and/or perform. Kettlebell arm bars are fantastic for a few reasons:

  • They can improve length through the anterior shoulder and even (to a degree) the opposing hip flexors.
  • They can improve mobility and rotary capacity through the thoracic spine.

For a quick demonstration of the kettlebell arm bar, simply click on the video below.

If I can make two quick suggestions, I think your body will thank you as well:

1 – Start off LIGHT! It’s not impressive to throw a bunch of weight around and dislocate your shoulder.

2 – Don’t try and get crazy with the range of motion. Keep your arm perpendicular to the ground throughout, and use the hips to drive your motion. Keep it nice and gentle, especially at the onset.

So you’ve got something new to try at the gym today. Enjoy!

Stay strong



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  1. I recently purchased the Magnificent Mobility DVD and I really enjoyed it. I’m interested in some of the other DVDs (Assess & Correct) but the prices are too high. I’m not a coach or a trainer… just a lifter who’s interested in everything I can learn about safe & strong lifting. The max I’m going to pay for a DVD is $50, and even then I’m going to be very picky. Over the years I’ve bought tons of DVDs from Elite Fitness, Dragon Door and many individual programs from guys like Eric Cressey, Mark Rippetoe, John Hinds, etc. I know that I’d buy a lot more if they were reasonably priced (subject I know). I know I could find all of these videos posted on the internet for free, but I’d rather support the authors and companies if possible. I just can’t help but think if the prices were more reasonable, more people would be actually buying them instead of stealing them. Oh well, rant over. I’ll continue to read the blog (which is great!) and wait for a future sale (which is when/how I picked up Magnificent Mobility).

    • Eric – Thanks for the feedback, and I’m sorry you feel that way.

      Regardless, I feel our prices are extremely fair based on other products in our industry. Eric, Bill and I have produced extremely high-quality products, and they are the culmination of numerous years of work in the trenches.


  2. Thanks for the Response. I’ve really enjoyed Magnificent Mobility and hope I can save up some money in the future for some of the other DVDs.

  3. Why in heaven’s name does this video hang up on me. Yours often do. I went to Youtube to see if I could find some other source of this particular info and did. All those videos loaded immediately. This is not by way of complaint but to apprise you of an undesirable condition re: your blog.
    Your website is the best of the best as is your generosity, good spirit and tons of fun and useful information. I want you to know. I proselytize for you gentlemen that are so generous to us all. I send everyone to your website. Thanks Mike.

  4. BTW. since I could only see half before it hung up , repeatedly, is there any time when one is actively extending the arm/ separating the scapulae. Or, is it always, back and down. thanks, Mike

  5. Eric,

    I’d suggest to you the products Mike and his colleagues put out are not only high quality, but WAY cheaper than many pay for a formal education in a related science (college degrees, certifications, etc.) In light of that I don’t think Mike charges enough!

    All the best,

  6. Mike,

    Just regaining my bearing after my workout and got online to check out some Facebook and saw the post. I actually just got done doing the armbar as part of my workout. It really helps my shoulder.

    Keep pumping out the great info and products. Your prices are def fair. I’ve dropped over 10 G’s on my Master’s so far, and I learn waaaaaay more from watching videos from quality sources like you, Cook, Cressey, and the likes. I’ll gladly support you and what you’re doing. Hoping to be at your level one day. I know I’ll be seeing you at quite a few seminars this year too. Looking forward to it!

    Peace out and stay strong Mike,

    Jared Woolever

  7. Mike,

    This is a phenomenal exercise. I use it often to teach good interaction between the thorax and pelvic girdle, and find it to be an excellent integrator moving to more challenging stabilization techniques.


  8. Mike,

    What’s going on with our man Lance? I notice in the intro to every video that you shoot with him (The Kettlebell Armbar, and the Blocked 90-90 Split Squats vids for example) that he seems tilted to his right. Are my eyes playing tricks on me, or does his right shoulder sit lower than his left? Everytime I see him standing next to you, at the beginning of a vid, I pause it so I can compare his elbow creases and throw a business card across his shoulders (very, very scientific, I know). Are my eyes playing tricks on me? Are those IFAST shirts defective?

    Love your stuff Mike! So glad to see you over at the Elite FTS website.



    • Dan,

      That’s what we like to call a Right BC.

      It begins at the pelvis and transfers all the way up through the kinetic chain. It’s heavily related to the zone of apposition and how efficiently the diaphragm can work.

      As you can see, my diaphragm don’t work too good. 🙂


  9. w00t! looks like a great drill. two questions come to mind though;

    1) would you say this drill is equal parts mobility/stability oriented?
    2) any guidelines for a safe starting weight? (for example, Gray Cook recommends going down in weight by half as a starting point for a bottoms up TGU)

    Re: pricing
    I don’t think it’s fair to ever say someone’s work is priced too high. At best all you can say is “I can’t afford that”.

    But over all, even for a DVD that’s priced at $200-300, if you find even just ONE gem that either rehabs an injury without surgery, or prevents an injury in the first place is money well spent. Surgery, lost time training and missed work would cost A LOT more than that.

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