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5 Kettlebell Exercises That Improve Posture And Back Strength

Kettlebells can provide a great back workout which makes your back stronger and is good for your posture. What are the best kettlebell exercises you can do for your back?

The five best kettlebell back exercises are:

  1. Kettlebell swings
  2. Kettlebell deadlift
  3. Kettlebell row
  4. Kettlebell pullover
  5. Kettlebell push-up with row

Below are the five best kettlebell exercises to train your back. Most of the exercises are almost full body exercises that involve the lower body, back, core and some of the arms as well. This is what kettlebells are great for and means that your workouts can be very efficient. At the bottom, you can find an example workout.

1. Kettlebell Swing

The undisputed best kettlebell exercise for your back and frankly in general is the kettlebell swing. It is a great combination of a lower body and back exercise. Because so many different bigger and smaller muscles are used for the movement (up to 600 different muscles), it’s also a great cardiovascular movement since so many muscles will get the heart pumping for sure. 

It’s called the swing because you basically swing the kettlebell from under you body between your legs to about shoulder height. 

It’s a pretty easy movement but you do have to know how to hip hinge properly. This is a movement you should learn anyways because it’s very important for many other movements and lifting things safely in daily life. Once you know how to do it (if you can squat or deadlift properly, you know how to do it), you won’t forget anytime soon. If you don’t know how to do the hip hinge, starting with the squat or deadlift will be a bit easier. 

Kettlebell Swing Setup:

  • Place a kettlebell of appropriate weight (should be quite heavy for you)
  • Stand up straight with feet a bit wider than shoulder width apart.
  • Brace your core and pull your shoulders back. 
  • Bend at the knees and hips until you can grab the top of the kettlebell handle with both hands, palms facing towards you. 
  • Stand up straight by pushing your heels into the floor. (You can move straight into the upswing from here or pause if you feel the need to)
  • Make sure to not round your back while lifting. Keep your core and shoulders tight now but also throughout the swing. 
  • Keep your arms straight through the movement. 

How to do the kettlebell swing:

  • While standing up, use the upward momentum to swing the kettlebell up. The goal is to have the kettlebell at shoulder height with straight arms at the same time the knees and hips are extended
  • The kettlebell will be coming back down pretty quickly. Just let it come down but try to control it. 
  • While the bell is swinging down, start hinging at the hip (point your butt back) and slightly bend the knees. 
  • Let the kettle swing between your legs. Don’t let the kettlebell hit the floor. Slightly pull it up and back. 
  • In the lowest position your back should almost be parallel to the floor and the weighted end of kettlebell is slightly behind your butt. 
  • Now explode up by driving your feet into the floor and driving through your hips. Drive through your hips by tightening the core and squeezing your glutes hard. 

The vast majority of the power for the swing comes from your hips. The arms stay straight throughout the movement. The shoulders will do a little bit but it’s not an arm exercise. 

2. Kettlebell Deadlift

One of the most famous exercises is the deadlift. It’s relatively simple although it can be a bit difficult to get the technique exactly right. The deadlift is a great exercise for the whole back (lower and upper), and the lower body, especially the glutes and hamstrings. 

Kettlebell Deadlift Setup:

  • Put a relatively heavy kettlebell on the floor between your feet. The handle of the kettlebell should be between the middle part of your feet.
  • Stand up straight, feet shoulder width apart. 
  • Brace your core and keep your shoulders back.
  • Hinge at the hip and bring your hands (perpendicular to the floor), towards the handle. 
  • Bend at the knees a little but as little as possible. 
  • Grab the kettlebell with both hands. 

How to do a kettlebell deadlift:

  • Tighten all your muscles against the kettlebell without lifting it. That means bracing the core and back, keeping the neck in a neutral position. Also slightly contract your glutes and hamstrings.
  • Now explode up by pushing your heels into the floor, and driving the hips forward. 
  • Make sure not to swing the kettlebell, keep it close to your body. You might have to have to pull your arms towards your body a little, especially on heavy weights.
  • At the top, drive through the hips by squeezing the glutes and core hard. 
  • Slowly return to the starting position. Just bend at the hips until your hands are just below the knees and then bend the knees. 

Good form is especially important on the deadlift. Getting the hip hinge right while keeping the back and neck in a neutral position is a must. Don’t worry about starting with a lighter weight first until you feel comfortable. The deadlift is on the the exercises that people are able to lift the heaviest weights, kettlebells or not so once you get it right, it’s a great strength builder. 

3. Kettlebell Row

The first two exercises are full body exercises. The row is more focussed towards the back even though you still have to use the lower body. The row is a dynamic movement for the upper back while the lower back and lower body are in a static position throughout the set. 

Kettlebell Row Setup:

  • Stand up straight with shoulder width apart
  • Brace the core and hinge at the hip
  • Grab a kettlebell with one hand (if you’ve got two kettlebells of the same weight, use one per hand)
  • Stay in the bent over position while keeping your back straight. Bend the knees as little as possible while the back stays parallel to the floor. If you can’t keep your back parallel to the floor, try to get at least somewhere between parallel and a 45 degree angle. 

How to do the kettlebell row: 

  • While staying in the bent over position (brace your core, keep your back straight), pull the kettlebell straight up. 
  • Pull until the kettlebell is next to the body and the elbow is behind the body. 
  • Slowly let the kettlebell down to the starting position. 

4. Kettlebell Pullover

The pullover is a good exercise for the ‘lats’. Those muscles that create the wide look of your back. You’ll need a relatively heavy kettlebell for this exercise. It also targets the chest muscles to some degree. You can do it on the floor but if you’ve got a weightlifting bench, you can get a little extra range of motion by laying on it.

Kettlebell pullover Setup:

  • Grab a kettlebell by the ‘horns’ (sides of the handle) with both hands, palms facing each other.
  • Lay down on a flat bench if you have one, on the floor otherwise. Put your feet on the floor
  • Lay down in a way where your head just doesn’t fall off the bench. 
  • Hold the kettlebell on the chest until you get in the right position.
  • Brace your core, glutes and keep your shoulders back. It’s OK if your butt comes off the bench a little. 
  • Push the kettlebell from the chest until your arms are straight and perpendicular to the floor.

How to do the kettlebell pullover:

  • While keeping your arms straight, let the kettlebell go back (behind your head. 
  • Keep going back until your upper arms are straight with your body (biceps next to your ear). 
  • Then bring the kettlebell back up by contracting the lats (side of the back) and chest muscles. 

5. Kettlebell Push-up With Row

And to finish off, one more exercise that targets biceps, triceps, back and core at the same time. It combines a push up and a row. The push up part targets the chest, triceps and front of the shoulder. The row targets the biceps, back and rear of the shoulder. And at the same time your core has to work hard to stabilize everything. 

It does require you to balance your body on the kettlebells. If you’re not completely certain you have the balance and strength to do this, you can either use a single kettlebell under one hand or don’t rest on the kettlebells at all for the push up part and just do the row with the kettlebell. 

Kettlebell push-up with row setup: 

  • Set up two of the same kettlebells shoulder width apart with the handles parallel to the body. 
  • Get into the push-up starting position with your hands wrapped around the kettlebell handles. 
  • Make sure you can keep the kettlebells upright while resting and exercising. If you feel the kettlebells might topple over, just doing a normal push up might be better. 

How to do the Kettlebell Push-up:

  • Bend at the elbows in order to lower the chest to between the kettlebell handles. Keep the rest of the body rigid by flexing the glutes, legs and core. 
  • Push up to the starting position.
  • Once back at starting position, pull one of the kettlebells up besides the chest. 
  • The elbows should move behind the body and the kettlebell should end up besides the chest.
  • Lower the kettlebell down to the original spot. 

As said above, not everyone can/feels comfortable balancing on the kettlebells. Just do the push up part the traditional way. Then grab a kettlebell for the row part. 

Kettlebell Back Workout

Here is an example of a quick back workout you can do with kettlebells in less than 10 minutes. There are two different workouts you can alternate. Two workouts a week should be enough if you also do other types of workouts throughout the week.

Workout 1 Workout 2Notes
KB Swing4×20 4×20 1 min rest between sets

KB Deadlift3×12
Superset the deadlift and row.
Do one set of both exercises
before taking a rest.
KB Row3×15

KB Pullover
3×15Superset the deadlift and row.
Do one set of both exercises
before taking a rest.
KB Push-ups with row

Is a Kettlebell Enough For Bigger/Stronger Back?

A kettlebell can be plenty to grow bigger, stronger back. To get muscles to grow, you need to provide enough training volume at a proper resistance level. The training volume is quite easy to do with kettlebells. They are small so you can have one at home and quickly bang out a 15 minute arm workout that will produce quite a burn. 

The resistance level depends on the weight of the kettlebell. It’s a good idea to have a few different weights of kettlebells available. How heavy exactly obviously depends on you. For some movements like squats, swings and deadlifts, a heavy kettlebell is more appropriate. For things like curls and lateral raises, lighter weights are better. Or another way to look at it; for exercises with two hands; use a heavy kettlebell, for exercises with one hand, use a lighter one. 

What heavy and light means really depends on the person. For women 6-8 kg is a good starting point for two handed exercises. For men a starting point of 12-14 kg is good. The lighter kettlebell should be about 60% of the heavier weight. Of course when training, you will get stronger after a while. Be prepared to upgrade to a heavier weight kettlebell after a while.