Kettlebells Don’t Build Muscle? Busting a Myth

Kettlebells Don’t Build Muscle

I was talking with a friend the other day, and they made one of the dumbest statements I have ever heard about fitness. Kettlebells don’t build muscle. At first, I thought they were joking. But it turns out, they actually believed it.

After a quick google search, I found that there are plenty of people who not only believe this, but are pushing it on their social media accounts.

If you have never heard of bro science, this is a great example. Bro science is a blanket term for fitness advice that has little to no credibility in the scientific community. Think of this as like an old wives tale, but for fitness.

In this article, we will be discussing why kettlebells do build muscle and why some people think they don’t.

Before we get started, I recommend downloading our app All Workouts: Personal Trainer (iOS | Google Play). You will find plenty of FREE workout plans and the ability to create your own custom plans.

Why do people think you can’t build muscle with kettlebells?

Kettlebells aren’t new. They have been around for hundreds of years. But most recently, they are being used for Crossfit or in conjunction with high intensity interval training (HIIT for short).

Do you know who does HIIT workouts? People who want to lose weight. When you are intentionally trying to lose weight, you are going to find that it is impossible to build muscle.

Why is it impossible to build muscle when you are trying to lose weight? Well, if you are intentionally trying to lose weight, you will be eating at a caloric deficit. And, as you would expect, you cannot build muscle in a caloric deficit.

Another reason that people think that kettlebells don’t build muscle is because of the spreading of false information on social media.

We live in an age where the first person to share information gets all the glory. So social media influencers are willing to share false information before realizing it is not true. A lot of influencers will end up going back on their statement, while some double down on the false claims.

This of course is a major problem. And a lot of influencers that do this are just trying to get you to buy something. It’s also no surprise that a lot of these huge muscle influencers are also taking some sort of steroid cycle.

You can build muscle in a lot of different ways. If you just browse this blog for a few minutes, you will find plenty of workout plans and advice that will open your eyes to what is out there. Don’t buy into the hype, kettlebells do build muscle if you use them correctly.

How to make sure you build muscle with kettlebells

It’s no secret that you can build muscle doing just about any type of workout. In fact, we made our own muscle building workout plan without equipment.

And kettlebells are no exception. If you insist on working out strictly with kettlebells, there is one rule that you need to follow in order to build muscle. And that rule is that you need to eat at a caloric surplus.

In the previous section, we talked about not being able to build muscle while in a caloric deficit. Therefore if you want to build muscle, you need to be in a caloric surplus. It really is that simple.

In fact, too many people underestimate the power of a caloric surplus. You can gain muscle at home without weights or at the gym with heavy weights.

The key here is to just make sure that you consistently eat at a caloric surplus and workout at least 3-4 days per week. If you can pull that off, you are going to build a solid foundation of muscle.

But how do you know that you are eating at a caloric surplus? Step one is to learn how to calculate your maintenance calories. Step two is to start by eating 500 calories per day over maintenance. Step 3 is to be ridiculously consistent.

If you haven’t gained at least a pound after 2 weeks, add another 250 calories per day to your diet. Keep doing this until you are gaining at least a pound every 2 weeks. It is ok to gain more, but understand that muscle usually grows at a maximum rate of a half pound per week.

From this section, we can understand that kettlebells aren’t the reason we gain muscle. It is the caloric surplus that we are in that does.

If it sounds idiotic, it probably is

When I first started on my fitness journey, I pretty much believed anything that a guy with muscles would tell me. Sad but true. Because of this, I spent more years than I would like to admit trying a plethora of different things.

Let’s just say that if someone tells you that kettlebells don’t build muscle, they have no idea what they are talking about, and you shouldn’t take advice from them.

Unfortunately, the false teachings don’t end there. The internet is riddled with people pushing completely false information. And you could fall victim to one of these falsities. All it takes is for one really shredded person to tell their fake story about how they got to where they are, and you might believe it.

I am not saying that all shredded people are promoting false teachings. In fact, I think that the majority of fitness influencers are genuine. But it only takes one bad apple to spoil it for you.

But let’s just be real with ourselves. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

For example, I once watched a video of an influencer talking about how he built 60 pounds of muscle in one year. It turns out, he was on steroids. And just for reference, even on steroids that is a shocking amount of muscle to put on in one year.

To put that into perspective, my first year of working out AND eating at a caloric surplus, I put on about 24 pounds, with not all of that being muscle. This is natural of course. I have never taken steroids.

All in all, just be aware that a lot of influencers have more to sell you than free advice.

Main Point: Kettlebells don’t build muscle?

If you have read this far, you now understand how silly this statement sounds. Kettlebells don’t build muscle. It isn’t about the instrument that you use to build muscle. People have been building muscle for thousands of years.

Do you think that vikings in the year 900 didn’t build muscle because they only had access to heavy rocks and wood? Of course not. All historical accounts of the vikings stated they were beasts.

The one thing that cannot be disputed is the fact that you need to be eating at a caloric surplus if you want to build muscle. It doesn’t matter if you are using kettlebells, barbells, dumbbells, etc… The main thing that matters is that you are eating at a caloric surplus consistently.

I made the mistake of thinking that just working out was going to be enough for me to build muscle. I spent years in the gym working out. There came to a point where I just assumed that my body wouldn’t allow me to build muscle.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

When I finally understood the importance of a caloric surplus for building muscle, my results grew exponentially.

So we know that kettlebells can in fact build muscle, and just the thought that they can’t is silly. Let’s all take this opportunity to say that we aren’t going to listen to fake influencers for stupid advice anymore.

If you hear something that sounds completely idiotic, it probably is. Nutrition and muscle building is like common sense. You lift heavy things, you put them down. You eat more than your body can burn.

Done. That’s it. If you can follow those 2 truths, you are going to find that you build some solid muscle.

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One Comment

  1. Mathieu

    Sounds reasonable but what about progressive overload? what if you only have one or two heavy-ish kettlebells at home? start with 5 reps until you can do 30 reps and then get heavier kettlebells?

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