10 Best Kettlebell Back Exercises (Coming From a Trainer)

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: March 28, 2024
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If you want to have a leaner and stronger physique, you need effective workout routines.

One fitness tool that can help you is the kettlebell. This versatile piece of equipment can activate several muscle groups in your body with just one exercise.

Furthermore, there are several workout routines you can perform with your kettlebell. In fact, most people have an easy time performing these exercises.

I decided to create a list of kettlebell back exercises that will help you build an ultra-strong back in no time.

Quick Summary

  • Some renowned kettlebell back exercises are kettlebell halo, kettlebell clean, kettlebell high pulls, kettlebell snatch, and kettlebell plank row.
  • Long-term workouts on kettlebell back routines can improve one's posture and reduce the risk of back injuries.
  • Research published by the National Library of Medicine has shown that regular back exercises, including kettlebell routines, can significantly reduce chronic low back pain and improve posture.
  • In my personal experience, kettlebell exercises not only enhance physical strength but also contribute to better overall health and fitness.

What Are The Benefits Of Back Exercises?

Person stretching

The benefits of back exercises include burning more calories, improving your posture, and reducing the risk of injuries.

While it’s a definite eye-pleaser, a strong and toned back is more than just something you can show off.

Here are the practical benefits of getting a good kettlebell back workout:

  1. It helps you burn more calories. The back has many muscles that, if developed, will help you burn more calories as you work out and even afterward.
  2. It improves your posture. Desk jobs and smartphones have wrecked the postures of many. Regularly exercising your back and shoulders to strengthen your muscles will assist in straightening your spine.
  3. It reduces chronic low back pain: A study published by the National Library of Medicine found that general exercise programs combining muscular strength, flexibility, and aerobic fitness are beneficial for rehabilitating non-specific chronic low back pain [1].
  4. It improves flexibility and range of motion: Improving the flexibility of muscle tendons and ligaments in the back through kettlebell exercises increases their range of motion and assists with functional movement, thereby aiding in the management of back pain.
  5. It reduces the risk of injuries. The back is the foundation of almost all your movements, which is why it’s a common problem area. Incorporating a high-quality back workout into your routine can help address that problem by stabilizing the spine and reducing the risk of potential back pain.

Try these amazing supplements to condition your body before doing kettlebell exercises:

Best Kettlebell Exercises For Your Back

kettlebell halo

1. Kettlebell Halo

The kettlebell halo is such a great warm-up exercise for your shoulder girdle.

I often start my clients with this exercise as a warm-up for the shoulder girdle. It's not just an excellent introduction to kettlebell workouts, but I've also found it to be a superb recovery movement between more intense exercises.

How To

  1. Grab the kettlebell by its horns (the vertical sides of the handle), with the handle facing down and the ball facing up in front of your chest.
  2. Create a “halo” by circling the weight around your head and following the neckline until you return to the starting position.
  3. After completing a full rotation, reverse the direction and begin circling from the other side.

Related: ONNIT Primal Kettlebells Review

2. Kettlebell Single-Arm Deadlift

Kettlebell Single-Arm Deadlift

The movement pattern of the single-arm deadlift engages a lot of muscles. It can also help you get used to lifting heavy objects from the ground using power from your legs, back, buttocks, and core.

How To

  1. Place a kettlebell on the floor.
  2. Stand shoulder-width with your knees bent and your toes pointing forward.
  3. Push your buttocks backward and bend from your hips. Grab the kettlebell from the floor with one arm, all while keeping your spine flat.
  4. Extend your legs and bring your hips forward to lift the kettlebell. Remember to keep your arms straight and brace your core during the lift.
  5. Once you reach the top of the movement, squeeze your butt tight.

3. Kettlebell Single-Leg Deadlift

Kettlebell Single-Leg DeadliftIn my experience as a fitness coach, the kettlebell single-leg deadlift has been particularly beneficial for clients involved in racket sports. I've seen how it develops solid core muscles essential for rotational movements, which is a key aspect of enhancing athletic performance.

Rotational strength training can help you stabilize your spine and hips during explosive movements, increase your core stability, develop your obliques, improve your total-body coordination during powerful movements, and make you more resilient to injuries.

How To

  1. Stand at hip-width, holding a kettlebell in your right hand.
  2. Keeping your spine flat, lean forward in your hips and allow your left leg to extend behind you while you slowly lower the weight to the floor.
  3. With your back still straight, pull the kettlebell up and return to your starting position.
youtube

4. Kettlebell Swing Two Hands

Kettlebell Swing

Like the two deadlifts above, this move works many muscles in your body, including those in your shoulders, lower back, and hamstrings.

I've observed significant improvements in overall strength and endurance in my clients who incorporate this move into their routines. It's especially effective for those looking to enhance their functional fitness.

How To

  1. Stand slightly wider than shoulder-width and keep your spine straight.
  2. Hold the kettlebell in front of your body using both hands with your palms down.
  3. Assume a squat-like position with your knees slightly bent, and your hips pushed back.
  1. Thrust your hips forward using an explosive motion while swinging the kettlebell upward to shoulder height. If you feel your hips and glutes activated during this point, that means you’re doing it right.
  2. Slowly lower the kettlebell back between your legs and repeat the swinging motion.

Read More: Kettlebells vs Dumbbells - What is better?

5. One-Arm Kettlebell Row

One-Arm Kettlebell RowThis exercise targets your latissimus dorsi (the muscles on the side of your upper back beneath the armpits) and your middle trapezius and rhomboids, which are located between your shoulder blades.

I've used this exercise with several clients to help them strengthen these key areas, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, especially from those looking to improve their upper back strength and posture."

How To

  1. Assume a staggered stance by putting your right leg forward and resting your left leg on the ball of your left foot.
  2. Rest your right hand above your right knee to maintain stability and keep your back straight.
  3. Using your left hand, grab the kettlebell from the floor with a neutral grip.
  4. Pull the kettlebell back up to the side of your upper body, retracting your shoulder blade. Make sure that your elbow is tucked close to your side and that your back is straight.
  5. Slowly lower the kettlebell and finish all desired reps on the left side before switching.

“Inexperienced people will enter a workout with one kettlebell and think it is a one-size-fits-all type of deal. This is not the case. Kettlebells can be used in many different ways so you need a variety of weights based on the movements in your workout.”

- Tyler Hewett, Physical Therapist

6. Kettlebell Clean

Kettlebell Clean

The kettlebell clean is not an arm exercise, although it may look like one.

It’s actually unlocked by your hips, which means you’ll have to work on your hip thrust and engage muscle groups such as your hamstrings, quads, and hip flexors to do it properly.

How To

  1. Set a kettlebell on the floor.
  2. Stand slightly wider than shoulder-width and point your toes out slightly.
  1. Get into a squat-like position and grab the handle with one hand, keeping your arm straight.
  2. Snap your hips and bring the kettlebell up in a straight line as close to your body as possible into a front-racked position at chest height.
  3. Make sure the weight ends up resting against the soft part of your arm, with your thumb pointing backward.

Other types of exercises:

7. Kettlebell High Pulls

Kettlebell High PullsThrough my experience in kettlebell training, I've found that kettlebell high pulls are incredibly effective for engaging the often neglected upper back muscles.

It’s also a highly cardiovascular exercise that uses over 600 muscles per movement, making it an excellent full-body fat burner.

ZiahCare founder Dylan Bishop emphasizes the importance of the latissimus dorsi muscles in high pulls.

Squeezing and condensing them during pulls and releasing them will help ensure proper activation and solid, smooth pulls.

How To

  1. Place a kettlebell on the floor.
  2. With your back straight, grab the handle and swing the kettlebell back between your legs.
  3. Snap your hips and forcefully swing the weight forward, then bring it up towards the side of your face.
  4. Squeeze your butt tight and stand tall at the top of the movement.

Tip: Keep your grip tight and keep an eye on the ball so that it won’t fall towards your face.

8. Kettlebell Bob & Weave

Kettlebell Bob & Weave

As a fitness coach, I've seen how lateral movements are frequently overlooked in standard training routines. That's why I often include the kettlebell bob & weave in my clients' workouts.

How To

  1. Stand with your feet close together while holding a kettlebell by the horns, either in the standard holding position or the goblet position (upside down).
  2. Imagine that you’re ducking under an invisible line, then squatting and lunging to the other side.
  3. Once you’re back in the starting position, squeeze your glutes tight and stand straight.

Tip: Keep your lower back flat and hold the kettlebell close to your chest throughout this exercise. Otherwise, you’ll be putting extra strain on your back.

Related: Dumbbell and Kettlebell Workout 

9. Kettlebell Snatch

Kettlebell SnatchBefore trying your hand at the kettlebell snatch, you must first master your swings, cleans, and high pulls. This exercise is quite dynamic and aggressive, so you’d want to ensure safe execution.

Dubbed the king of kettlebell lifts, performing the snatch comes with a slew of benefits. According to VeryWellFit, it will give you an intense cardio workout and develop your power and core stability [2].

How To

  1. Stand with your feet about hip-to-shoulder width apart.
  2. Bend slightly forward with your back straight, and grip the kettlebell.
  3. Swing the weight backward between your legs

Extend your hips and knees and swing the bell overhead toward the ceiling in one explosive motion.

Learn More: Kettlebell HIIT Workout to Burn Fat and Build Strength

10. Kettlebell Plank Row

kettlebell plank row

The kettlebell plank row will challenge your core and upper back muscles really hard.

I've introduced this exercise to clients who were looking to elevate their core strength, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. It's a tough exercise, but the improvements in core stability and upper back strength that my clients have achieved are a testament to its effectiveness.

Since you’ll be in a push-up position throughout this exercise, you must be able to hold that pose for 60 seconds to perform this move effectively.

How To

  1. Assume a plank position with a kettlebell in each hand.
  2. Pull one of the kettlebells to your hips and keep your elbow in as you go.
  3. Lower the weight and do the same for the other side.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4934575/
  2. https://www.verywellfit.com/kettlebell-snatch-2084649
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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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