Kettlebell Halo for Improved Shoulder Mobility

Senior African-American woman in exercise class
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In addition to being a tremendous form of exercise for increasing strength and endurance and the associated fat-loss, kettlebells are beneficial for increasing mobility and range of motion around the joints of the body. This may actually be the most lasting benefit from kettlebell training since mobility becomes more important as we age. All the strength in the world is of little use to an immobile body.

A common area where restrictions of motion occur and which holds a lot of tension in many people is the shoulder girdles and upper back musculature.

The Kettlebell Halo is a phenomenal shoulder and upper back mobility exercise.

Many people love the way this movement makes the shoulders feel and incorporate it as part of a warm-up and for rehabilitation and pre-rehabilitation purposes.

As the name suggests, it is performed by making tight circles around the head with the kettlebell.

Here is a step-by-step instructional guide to help you learn the Kettlebell Halo exercise:

Hold a light Kettlebells by the horns, which are the vertical sides of the handle. The handle is facing downwards and the bottom of the kettlebell is facing up.

Bring the hands to one side of your head and let the kettlebell drop down behind the head as one arm circles over and across the top of the head.

Continue the circle all the way around until the kettlebell is back to the starting position. The kettlebell drops lower as it comes to you and raises again as it moves back up in front. That is one full revolution. Continue circling for 10 or more repetitions in the same direction, then reverse directions to circle in the other direction. Again repeat for 10 or more repetitions. Alternatively, you can use time instead of reps, such as 30 seconds or 1 minute in each direction.

Key Performance Points

As the name suggests, keep the path of the kettlebell comparable to a “halo” around the top of your forehead.

Relax the elbows and allow them to articulate freely

Breath normally and naturally without going for a particular pattern

As with the around the body pass exercise, keep the path of the kettlebell close to the head but use caution to avoid accidental contact with the shoulders

Common Errors to Avoid and Their Corrections

Dropping the Head and Looking Down, Flexing the Neck

Correction — Pick a spot on the wall in front of you and keep your eyes there throughout the movement 

Too Heavy of a Load

Correction — Realize it is a mobility exercise, not a strength-building exercise. 

Select a light load and an increase in repetitions. Never overdo this exercise. 

Putting the Halo Into Your Kettlebell Program

The Kettlebell Halo is most useful as a warm-up for tight shoulders and upper back, and also for therapy in the case of old injuries. The adage “motion is lotion” is an accurate description of what the Kettlebell Halo offers. Through controlled movement around a joint, the body will increase its circulation of synovial fluid, which acts as lubrication to the surrounding joints. The Halo performed with a kettlebell light enough that you can maintain relaxation and correct posture, will increase synovial fluids and help to reduce friction in the shoulder girdle and upper spinal vertebrae.​

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