The shoulder is one of the most mobile, vulnerable joints in the body. It is also involved in much of our lifting and athletic movement, so it is important to cultivate strength and stability there. Scott Iardella of Rdella Training demonstrates how to perform the kettlebell arm bar, a drill that strengthens the rotator cuff while also improving thoracic mobility. 


Start out with a light kettlebell so you can learn the technique and avoid unnecessary risk. Follow these steps to perform the kettlebell arm bar:


  1. Lie face up on the ground with the kettlebell next to your right shoulder. Roll onto your side to grab it with both hands.
  2. Roll onto your back again and press the kettlebell up, keeping your arm vertical. Place your left arm on the ground and extend it above your head with your bicep next to your ear. Bend your right leg and place your foot flat on the floor. 
  3. Push through your foot and rotate your hips to roll carefully onto your left side, while keeping the kettlebell overhead. Keep your arm as straight as possible to feel the stretch in your chest and thoracic spine.
  4. Roll over as far as you can onto your left side. Straighten your legs to achieve more range of motion. Use your hips to re-position as needed. Repeat the drill on the opposite side.


This drill forces your shoulder to stabilize as you work near your end range of motion while supporting a weight. When performed correctly, it is one of the most effective drills to develop all the qualities that keep your shoulder injury-free.


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