Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: February 8, 2021

If you want to score a leaner and stronger physique, adding a good back workout to your training is a surefire way to get there.

One fitness tool that can help you with that is the kettlebell.

This versatile piece of equipment can activate several muscle groups in your body with just one exercise.

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

Let’s get to it.

What Are The Benefits Of Back Exercises?

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 up your spine.
  1. It reduces the risk of injuries. The back is the foundation of almost all your movements, which is why it’s a usual 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.

Best Kettlebell Exercises For Your Back

kettle bell and yoga mat

1. Kettlebell Halo

The kettlebell halo is such a great warm-up exercise for your shoulder girdle. You can use this as an intro to your kettlebell workout or a recovery movement between more challenging 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

man performing 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 at shoulder-width with your knees bent and your toes pointing forwards.
  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

This exercise is beneficial, especially if you’re someone who plays racket sports. It will help you develop solid core muscles for rotational movements, which is key to propelling your 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 [1].

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.
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4. Kettlebell Swing Two Hands

woman doing kettlebell swing with two hands

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

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 up 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

This 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.

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 for 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

man doing a kettle clean

he 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

This move’s horizontal pulling action engages your often neglected upper back muscles and is excellent for improving posture.

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

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

man doing a bob and weave

The sideways movement of this exercise will develop your strength and flexibility when moving in a lateral direction - something which is often overlooked.

How To

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

9. Kettlebell Snatch

Before 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 as the king of kettlebell lifts, performing the snatch comes with a slew of benefits. 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.

If you are looking for some kettlebells, we have an article on the best adjustable kettlebells out there.

10. Kettlebell Plank Row

Woman doing a Kettlebell Plank

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

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.

What Do You Think About These Back Kettlebell Exercises?

As with every type of exercise, you should start slow when adding these kettlebell workouts to your routine.

Once you do, remember to switch the exercise selections regularly to keep things fun.

Note that some of these moves require a steep learning curve, so don’t be frustrated if you don’t get them right the first time.

Regardless of your skill level, I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it with consistent practice.

Go give your back some love, and add these kettlebell exercises to your routine for a full-blast workout.


References:

  1. https://barbend.com/rotational-strength-exercises-build-explosiveness/
  2. https://www.verywellfit.com/kettlebell-snatch-2084649

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