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March 04, 2022
Few conventional exercises challenge the shoulder joint to move in its full rotational range of motion. The kettlebell halo does just that and can offer additional benefits to the shoulder complex, upper back, and core. This kettlebell halo video exercise guide will break down the movement step-by-step, cover the muscles worked and teach you how to avoid making common mistakes.
Kettlebell halos are most effective when executed for mobility, active recovery, or shoulder strength. Since the halo is a complex, dynamic movement, it may be a challenge to learn at first.
Give this functional movement patience and allow your body to learn the halo technique over time. Remember to start with a light weight and work your way up with progressive overload. Now let's dissect the kettlebell halo!
The kettlebell halo dynamically sets the shoulders in an overhead motion as they resist the weight of the kettlebell. This movement is categorized as a functional exercise for many reasons: it works for multiple muscle groups, challenges a joint range of motion, and fixates on core stabilization.
The shoulder complex, upper back, and core musculature are the main muscles targeted throughout the halo range. Without proper shoulder mobility, the halo will be a challenging motion but will be advantageous once the range of motion is improved.
Also, the kettlebell halo targets the core musculature in many ways. When the kettlebell moves behind the head, the core's job is to help stabilize and balance the body. Once the kettlebell is pulled up and over to its starting position, the core assists with pulling the weight with control; once the weight of the kettlebell increases, the core along with the shoulders and upper back will help slow or accelerate the weight through the entire movement.
We'll get into additional benefits that the kettlebell halo provides in detail below.
Although kettlebell halos are not necessarily the best hypertrophy-based movement, there is one muscle group that can reap the benefits of muscle gain: the forearms.
The forearms work in an isometric contraction when the kettlebell is passed up and over the head in the halo. Forearm strength and grip strength are essential for movements like pull-ups, carries, and deadlifts.
Since there are many moving parts in the kettlebell halo with multiple muscle groups involved, the main benefits of this movement include improving shoulder mobility, postural awareness, and core engagement. The kettlebell halo offers variety to a training program with fantastic, functional benefits.
Note: If you're looking to build muscular hypertrophy, especially for the upper body, compound movements like the overhead press and the bench press are better options.
Yes, they're worth doing! As briefly stated above, halos offer variety in your training routine and can help your body's functionality in three ways:
There are several variations to the kettlebell halo, this how-to is based on a standing variation with the kettlebell in an upside-down position: horns down and bell facing upwards.
Note: Kettlebell halos are usually completed one side at a time (ex: 5 reps rotating clockwise, 5 reps rotating counterclockwise). Once you've found the halo pattern, try to increase the fluidity of the movement and find the dynamic rhythm of the rotation overhead. If you're feeling a challenge, try to alternate repetitions in each direction (ex: 1 rep clockwise, 1 rep counterclockwise, repeat).
As for any sets and repetitions recommendations, it is all dependent on goal-specific programming. Choose the below according to what function you'll be using the kettlebell halo for.
Progressive Overload: this principle is when you gradually increase your workload of sets, repetitions, or weight in your strength training routine. Most strength training cycles (depending on the outcome goal) last anywhere from 6-8 weeks, giving plenty of time for increasing the intensity in a program through progressive overload.
Following goal-specific programming, the timing of when to do the halo will change.
You may now be rethinking your approach to the kettlebell halo. It's awkward at first but rewarding once you get it down. The kettlebell halo offers many benefits to the body, including improving shoulder mobility, strengthening postural muscles, and targeting the core musculature.
Depending on your specific training goals, kettlebell halos can either be incorporated as a mobility-specific movement or strength. With practice and progressive overload, this exercise can help improve movement patterns and strength gains that may not have been accessible to your body before.
For more resources on kettlebell training, check the below...
SFS Five Kettlebell Full Length Follow Along Workouts
Check out this extensive Kettlebell Training e-Guide (8-week Workout Program)
Articles Kettlebell Exercise Articles:
Kettlebell Exercises by Muscle Groups:
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