A kettlebell halo is considered one of the best exercises for developing shoulder mobility and strength. This exercise largely targets the shoulder muscles, including the rhomboids, deltoids and trapezius, and the abdominal muscles and forearms.
It's an intermediate-level exercise performed by making circles around the head using a kettlebell. Various studies suggest that this exercise can loosen the thoracic spine and shoulders, making them more flexible and stronger.
How to Do Kettlebell Halo Correctly?
Here's how it's done:
- Stand straight, and make sure your spine is neutral and your posture is good. Keep your shoulders relaxed and your knees straight.
- Hold a kettlebell by grasping its horns. Keep the handle facing down and the bottom of the kettlebell facing up towards the ceiling.
- Start to circle the kettlebell over your head to the right. Carry it around your right side, and allow a full range of motion.
- Complete the circle by bringing it around your left side and back to the initial position.
- Once you finish one full rotation, circle the kettlebell in the opposite direction.
- Continue for more repetitions.
Tips to Keep in Mind
Consider these tips when performing this exercise:
- If you're not comfortable holding the kettlebell with its horn, you can hold it by its bottom.
- If you're a beginner and have mobility problems in your upper body, you can do this exercise in a seated position. Sit on a chair; keep your back straight, and continue the movement. You can also perform this exercise in a half-kneeling position.
- Once you’ve mastered this exercise, try adding a lunge or squat between each circle. This variation is called the Angel of Death.
Benefits of Kettlebell Halo
The primary benefit of performing a kettlebell halo is that it helps build stability, strength and mobility in your shoulder muscles, which play a key role in preventing strains and injuries. Circling movement particularly helps improve mobility, as the joints can move at their full range of motion, promoting core stabilisation.
The kettlebell halo also works as an incredible warm-up for your shoulders and targets a variety of other muscles, including your forearms, biceps, core and upper back. Since you're holding a heavy weight throughout the movement, this exercise can help build your grip strength and develop the muscles in your hands and fingers.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
To avoid pain and injuries, make a note of the following common mistakes when performing a kettlebell halo:
Making huge circles
Over-circling the kettlebell around your head can put a lot of strain on your shoulders and forearms. So, you must keep the motion close to your body, and avoid making huge circles around your head.
If you're standing with a poor posture, you're likely to strain your muscles. If you're bending your back to bring the weight behind your neck, your stance isn’t correct. For the correct posture, keep your feet at a hip distance, and relax your knees.
Rushing the movement
When doing this exercise, do not rush, as that can shift the rotation towards your back, and the exercise won’t be of any benefit. Keep the movement slow and controlled, and take your time to perform the exercise in the correct form.
Not breathing properly
Always remember to breathe easily when doing this exercise, and do not hold your breath, especially while undertaking the overhead movement.
You can incorporate a kettlebell halo into your upper body workout routine. However, if you don’t have a kettlebell, you may simply use a dumbbell, and hold it by its end.
Regardless of what you choose, make sure to start your exercise with a light weight, and practice the full movement with the correct form. As it's a complex exercise, it may be challenging to execute it correctly initially. So, give yourself enough time to learn the technique, and gradually work your way up.
If you have limited mobility, existing back or shoulder pain, consult a doctor or physical therapist before doing this exercise. Discuss your condition, and make sure the movement is safe for you. Moreover, if you are pregnant, it may be difficult for you to execute the movement.
Again, be very careful, and talk to your doctor before incorporating any weight lifting exercise into your workout routine.