The kettlebell is a tool that was initially used in Russia in the 1800s as a counterweight to weigh grains and other goods. Then the Russians realized they didn’t need to run in the cold for cardio and started swinging the bells full time.

Kettlebell swings and their variations are foundational and form the basis of many other kettlebell exercises. Swings improve power, strength, and the size of your behind. But as great as the swing is, kettlebells are also used for presses, rows, and carries and, because of their design, add an extra dimension to those.

The kettlebell has a thick handle and an offset center of mass (COM) because its COM is about six to eight inches from the handle. With each repetition, this offset impacts stability and strengthens the body’s stabilizing muscles because of the shifting center of mass.

It makes the exercises you do with it a little harder. As great as lifting with a kettlebell is, there is one neglected way to increase its intensity without going up in weight. If you guessed, flip it upside down, and you’ll get a gold star even though it was given away in the title.

Let’s dive into why you should incorporate bottoms up kettlebell exercises and some bottoms-up exercises for your lifting pleasure.

What is a Bottoms Up Kettlebell?

Holding a KB bottoms-up is a simple but challenging task to improve the quality of your lifts and increase your intensity with less weight.

Rather than holding it with the bell hanging below the hand, flip it upside down so the heavy portion sits above the handle and the horn sits on the meat of your hand. Then, you must ensure a neutral wrist and have your wrist and elbow stacked so the KB doesn’t come crashing down on your forearm.

It would be best to squeeze the horn like crazy to keep it in this position, too. The inherent instability of the BU kettlebell forces you to engage additional muscle fibers and motor units to control the unstable load. Why would you put your forearm at risk for impact, lift less weight, and look like a fool? Let’s get into that below.

Benefits of The Bottoms Up Kettlebell

Lifting a kettlebell in a bottoms-up position offers unique benefits that can enhance your strength, improve your technique, and have you performing in the circus in no time.  Well, at least the first two are true.

Increased Muscular Tension

The bottoms-up position requires more muscular tension than traditional grips—for instance, your forearm and wrist gripping muscles.  There’s an increased need to stabilize the kettlebell with its weight balanced above the handle. This increased intensity can lead to significant strength gains without heavy weights, making it an efficient and safe way to get stronger.

Enhanced Mental Focus

The precarious nature of the bottoms-up position demands your heightened concentration. You soon know of any concentration lapse when lifting or walking with a BU kettlebell. It only needs to smash into your forearm once to remind you. This improves your mind-muscle connection, which is crucial for executing exercises with good form so you can get the most out of it.

Improved Technique

The enhanced focus of the bottoms-up position also has another spin-off benefit. Maintaining the kettlebell’s balance requires excellent technique. If your technique is off, even slightly, the kettlebell will likely wobble or fall. This instant feedback without a trainer helps you quickly identify and correct technical errors, ensuring your form improves with KB and big lifts.


Bottoms-up kettlebell exercises encourage better lifting techniques, which can be gentler on the joints than the barbell for two reasons. First, the emphasis on technique and stability can lead to healthier, more resilient joints, particularly in your wrist, elbow, and shoulder. Second, the increased intensity with a lighter weight saves your joints from the compressive load of the barbell. Mixing up your barbell lifts with bottoms-up KB lifts is an excellent way of saving your joints while maintaining a training effect.

3 Bottoms Up Kettlebell Variations

If you’re ready to rock with the bottoms-up kettlebell, here are three accessory exercises that will improve your lifting technique and provide you with a challenge.

Bottoms Up Carry


This bottoms-up exercise is performed in two ways: with your arms overhead or semi-racked. The overhead version is far more complex because the load is farther from your center of gravity, making it harder to balance with every step. Both will strengthen your grip and your shoulders.

Programming Suggestions

Start on the lighter side because only a little load is needed to achieve a training effect. Ensure the handle is aligned and the grip is tight for better safety and stability. Programming these at the end of your workout in a superset with an upper-body exercise, for example, works well.

1A.  Overhead Carry 40 steps on each side.

1B.  Dumbbell Floor Press 6-12 reps on each side.

Half-Kneeling Bottoms Up Press

Any exercise you do in the half-kneeling simultaneously improves hip mobility and core stability. The reduced base of support and the unstable load will help clean up your shoulder pressing technique and help you build muscle with a lighter weight due to increased muscular tension and improved mechanics.

Programming Suggestions

It goes without saying, but I will anyway: For ego’s sake, go light to start, keep your eyes and focus on the load, and slow it down. This means not letting the ego take over. For example, I like using this in a superset after your main pressing movement for the day.

1A.  Half Kneeling Bottoms up shoulder press 6-12 reps per side

1B. Split Squat Variation 12-15 reps on each side.

1-Arm Bottoms Up KB Split Squat

How do you make split squats even more enjoyable and effective? By adding a bottoms-up kettlebell, of course. The bottoms-up kettlebell will help clean up the squat pattern, similar to a goblet squat. The muscular tension needed to stabilize the kettlebell transfers to full-body tightness, which works wonders for your form.

Programming Suggestions

This exercise can replace your single-leg split squat variation or be used as an accessory exercise to improve your squat technique. There is no need to go crazy on load here; perform with tempo to ensure good form and to stop the KB from crashing into your forearm. Here’s a superset that will give your legs all they can handle.

1A. 1 Arm Bottoms-up Split squat 8 reps on both sides

1B. Slider hamstring curl 6-8 reps