The Most Effective Kettlebell Back Exercises For A Powerful And Pain Free Back
Kettlebells improve posture, strengthen the posterior chain, increase aerobic capacity, and are overall beneficial for a functional workout routine.
Changing up the methods in which we train, while using different tools and exercises are sometimes exactly what we need to take our training to the next level.
Barbells, dumbbells, cables, and machines are the most common pieces of equipment for most workout routines. But kettlebell training opens numerous possibilities for strength, muscle growth, and even functional training.
And that’s why we’ve listed the perfect kettlebell exercises for posterior chain development. Plus, everything you need to know about making gains with this very functional method of training.
Let’s get into the details…
PICKING THE RIGHT KETTLEBELL...
Determining the amount of weight for any exercise is predicated from similar principles.
- Choose a weight that you can swing with good form.
- Make sure the weight you choose is sufficient for efficiently training the targeted muscles.
Beginners should choose a weight in which you can perform 12-15 repetitions without breaking form.
Intermediate lifters can increase the weight to where 12 reps become challenging.
Advanced lifters should choose a weight that can be used for a max of 10 reps.
No matter if you are a beginner or advanced KB lifter, maintaining proper form is the key to targeting muscles as well as protecting your body from injury.
KETTLEBELL BACK EXERCISES
There are many great back exercises you can do for an effective kettlebell back workout. And many don’t involve swinging but rather, movements similar to conventional weight training. Kettlebells provide functional benefits, while building muscle, strength, and even improving cardiovascular health through using movements which will really get your heart beating!
Plus, you’ll learn to maintain better posture through posterior muscle development and spine stabilization.
Here you’ll see an amazing list of kettlebell exercises for lats, rhomboids, erector spinae, traps, and even your core. But, of course, the legs, hip flexors, and delts are also engaged during each movement.
The deadlift is a full-body movement which targets the entire posterior chain.
These muscles include hamstrings, glutes, back, and core which are heavily involved in this power movement.
Although you won’t be able to train with maximal loads using a kettlebell, you’ll still reap the benefits from the functionality of kettlebell training.
- Stand with your knees bent and back straight
- Lean over and grip the kettlebell with both hands.
- Deadlift the kettlebell from the floor and thrust your hips forward while driving upward through your heels and midfoot.
KB ELEVATED BENT-OVER ROW
The bent-over row is one of the best back exercises ever! One study conducted by ACE research actually showed the bent-over row to elicit the most growth and strength gains overall compared to common back movements.
- Find an elevated surface and get into a push-up position with one hand supporting your body weight and the other holding the kettlebell.
- Then, perform a one-arm row by driving your elbow upward and retracting your scapula.
- Slowly lower the weight and repeat.
KB SINGLE-LEG DEADLIFT
The single-leg deadlift is the best unilateral (Affecting one side) posterior chain movement you could possibly do.
Now, to perform this movement, you’ll use the same side arm and leg. You can hold onto something with the hand that’s not holding the kettlebell. Make sure you have good balance either way.
- Bend your knee, keep your back straight, and lift the non-working leg up and behind you when you perform each repetition.
- Always thrust your hips forward during the positive portion of each rep to avoid using the lower back.
You never want to lean forward or backward as this will take the weight load away from the center of mass which is dangerous for your spine.
The renegade row is an awesome exercise and you’ll need two kettlebells. It’ll hammer your back muscles, rear delts, core, and even biceps from the pulling movement.
- Get into a push-up position (Legs spread wide apart) while holding yourself up by placing the kettlebells flat on the floor a little closer together than you would if doing a conventional push-up.
- Balance yourself with one kettlebell and drive one elbow up and back for the single-arm row.
- Place the kettlebell flat on the floor and repeat the movement with the opposite arm.
KB SWING – TWO HANDED
By far one of the most popular kettlebell variations, the two-handed swing is dynamic and it’s beneficial for functional training related to sports and athletic movements. But it’ll also work your entire posterior chain as well as your core, and it’s great for overall conditioning.
To perform the kettlebell swing, you want to make sure you’re utilizing your hips (Hip hinging) during the movement and not your lower back. This will ensure your safety and it’s much more effective to do it this way. Plus, the movement upward will force thoracic extension which is important for proper posture, better breathing, and athletic performance.
- With the kettlebell placed on the floor, stand in front of it so knees are bent and back is straight with your chest up.
- Grip the kettlebell with both hands and slowly swing it until your wrists are in between your inner thighs.
- Use your hips as a hinge to thrust the kettlebell upward and absorb the impact through your heels and lower posterior chain of muscles.
This is a variation identical to a dumbbell bent-over row.
- Keep your back straight and knees bent while in a bent-over position.
- Place one foot in front of the other for balance and then perform the row with one arm.
- Complete the desired number of reps and then switch to the opposite arm and repeat.
This is a more advanced movement which works the legs and back muscles.
- Stand erect with the kettlebell on the floor in front of you.
- Bend down with your back upright and lift the kettlebell off of the floor as if you were doing the deadlift and use your hips to thrust yourself into a standing position.
Now, as you stand up, bring the kettlebell up while pushing your elbow forward so that the weight lifts up to neck level. You want to do this movement somewhat explosively since it’s actually a variation of a weightlifting technique.
KB HIGH PULLS
This is also another beginner exercise which targets mid and upper back. It’s essentially a single-arm kettlebell swing with a high pull/row at the top.
- Engage in the same movement as the kettlebell swing.
- When you thrust the kettlebell upward, pull it toward your shoulder as if you were doing a row and contract the upper back muscles.
MUSCLES USED – BACK ANATOMY
The kettlebell exercises listed work a wide range of back muscles which include…
- Rhomboids - Located below the trapezius muscles and are highly responsible for scapula retraction.
- Trapezius – The muscles which resemble mountains on each side if the neck when well developed. The trapezius muscles rotate, elevate, and adduct the scapula while extending the neck.
- Erector spinae – These muscles extend along the vertebreal column and are responsible for keeping the spine erect and stabilization.
- Latissiums dorsi – A very large back muscle responsible for the adduction, extension, and medial rotation of the humerus.
KB BACK WORKOUT FOR BEGINNERS
Here’s a beginner kettlebell workout. Use a relatively light weight and make sure you have proper form. Your safety is a lot more important than trying to train with heavy weight.
INTERMEDIATE KB WORKOUT
An intermediate lifter has a better understanding of how much weight to use during an exercise. And at this level of training, form should be perfect with the ability to introduce more advanced movements.
ADVANCED KB WORKOUT
More advanced lifters can generally handle more weight and volume during an exercise without compromising good form. These movements are for those who have mastered the exercises provided for beginner and intermediate levels.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
ARE KETTLEBELL SWINGS BAD FOR YOUR BACK?
Kettlebell swings build up your posterior chain and coupled with the KB bent over row can strengthen your back muscles. Maintaining proper form by using your hips as a hinge, tightening your core, and keeping a strong posture will limit the exposure of injury.
IS KETTLEBELLS THE BEST WORKOUT?
KB workouts are best used for functionality and intense circuit training. If you're looking to add cardio to your exercise regime without losing mass and strength, KB workouts are the perfect addition to your training sessions.
ARE KETTLEBELLS GOOD FOR BJJ?
Kettlebells are the most versatile training tools which can be used to improve your overall strength and conditioning for BJJ. Dumbbells and barbells still have their place in strength training for BJJ but kettlebells offer a unique variation in combination with bodyweight exercises.
Check out our Kettlebell Training for BJJ article and improve your time on the mats.
DO KETTLEBELL SWINGS WORK FOR YOUR BACK?
Yes, the kettlebell swing puts a great amount of focus on the posterior chain along with the KB exercises listed in this article. Be sure to maintain proper form while performing any KB movements to prevent injury.
CAN YOU LOSE WEIGHT WITH KETTLEBELLS?
Yes, intense training burns calories which in turn increases weight loss. Use the KB exercises in this article and create your own HIIT circuit to increase your heart rate and lose weight.
Try out this circuit to get pumped and incorporate into your training.
- 6 x Sprawl to Clean/Press
- 6 x Glute Bridge Single Arm Floor Press
- 6 x Staggered Single Arm Row
- 6 x Snake Move and Press
- 6 x Single Arm Kettlebell Swing
Note: After you do all exercises on one side, go right into the next side. When you have completed the complex on both sides, take 2-3 minutes of rest between rounds. Do 3-4 rounds.
DO KETTLEBELLS BURN BELLY FAT?
Intense KB training burns calories and can increase weight loss, however KB exercises are not able to spot reduce targeted areas such as belly fat. Adequate training combined with a calorie deficit will increase weight loss overall.
CAN KETTLEBELL SWINGS BE DONE EVERYDAY?
Yes. The same goes with any weightlifting regime, allow your muscles and body to recover to prevent overtraining. If you choose to train everyday, keep the weights lighter and reps lower.
A couple of sets are plenty sufficient but there’s really no reason to train every day, unless you feel the need to get in some cardio without physically moving your feet.
You can go heavy one day and moderate another day with a lot of light training in between. But never exhaust your joints and/or your body with constant heavy training regardless of the movement.
Kettlebell training is effective and beneficial for those who also train for function. There are so many different variations and kettlebell lifts that you can get a great workout anywhere.
Now, are they a replacement for regular weight training? They absolutely could be depending on your goals. But training with barbells, dumbbells, machines, and cables will allow you to experience the most muscle and strength development possible.
So, kettlebell training is excellent in combination with your training program and you should definitely fit it in your routine to mix things up!