How To do Kettlebell Deadlift? Step by Step Instructions

Double Kettlebell Deadlift Double Kettlebell Suitcase Deadlifts How to do kettlebell deadlift? Kettlebell Deadlift Muscles Worked Kettlebell deadlift variations kettlebell deadlifts kettlebell deadlifts benefits kettlebell deadlifts mistakes Single Arm Deadlift Single Arm Suitcase Deadlift Single Leg Kettlebell Deadlift

What is Kettlebell Deadlift?

The kettlebell deadlift is a great way to start kettlebell training. It's important to master the deadlift before moving on to the powerful kettlebell swing, as it helps you get the hip hinge movement down correctly. This exercise builds a strong base and can be done early on in your training, so it's a key part of any beginner kettlebell program.

This article provides details on the muscles targeted during a deadlift, proper technique for hip hinging and deadlifting, ways to include it in your workout routine, and different variations to make it more challenging.

The Start and Finish Position

1. Thrust your hips forward, pull, and rise up straight.
2.To maintain a strong core, adopt a technique commonly utilized by powerlifters. Inhale as you lift the weight and exhale as you lower it. This method will help ensure your kettlebell deadlift form is solid.
3.As you lower the kettlebell, retract your shoulders, engage your core, and push your hips forward.
4.Transfer the weight to your heels as you descend slowly, maintaining a hip hinge rather than bending at the waist.
5.Sense the activation in your backside muscles as you return the kettlebell to the ground and repeat the movement.

Here's a helpful tip: Make sure to keep your lats engaged to keep the kettlebell close to your body. Remember to lift with your legs and lock with your back.

Checklist for Proper Form in Kettlebell Deadlifts

  • Ensure that the kettlebell is positioned between your ankles, with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
  • Take a moderate breath and engage your core muscles.
  • Squat down to grab the kettlebell, pushing your hips back and hinging forward at the waist.
  • Maintain a straight back and tighten your glutes and hamstrings as you begin to lift.
  • Pull your shoulders down, rotate them back, and keep your chest lifted.
  • Exhale as you lift the kettlebell to the top position.
  • Lower the kettlebell back down to the ground in a controlled manner.
  • Repeat the exercise.

The Most Common Kettlebell Deadlifts Mistakes to Avoid

So as far as the form goes, kettlebell deadlifts can be confusing because the movement is not what it seems. You pick up the bell with your hands and subconsciously you think that you are using your upper body. In fact you are not, because you are using your lower body. Your hamstrings, glutes, core and lower back should be the main muscles working during kettlebell deadlifts. Other muscles have a stabilizing function.

People make mistakes that mess up their deadlift form and bad form will reduce the effectiveness of the lift and will invite unwanted injuries.

Here are three significant factors that you should keep an eye on:

1. Ensure your back remains flat without any rounding. If you notice your back starting to round, it could be due to tightness in your hamstrings. This tightness restricts your ability to hinge properly, leading to incorrect squatting form and increasing the risk of lower back injury.

2. Keep in mind that this exercise is not a squat. Focus on hinging at your hips to engage your core and posterior chain effectively.

3. Avoid overextending your back by leaning too far back. Overextension can result in potential injuries, so be mindful of maintaining proper form.

A strong form will be evident in your lower body, extending from your feet to your spine.

Kettlebell Deadlift Muscles Worked

The kettlebell deadlift proves to be a highly efficient exercise that engages the entire body. Let's delve deeper into the specific muscles it targets and the roles they play in this exercise.


The gluteus maximus, the largest and strongest muscle group in the body, has a crucial role in hip extension. This movement involves the opening of the hip joint and the increase in angle between the upper and lower body.

During kettlebell deadlifts, your glutes are vital as they contract to propel the hips forward, enabling you to transition from a bent-over position to a standing posture.


The posterior part of the thighs is composed of the hamstrings, and their main function is to aid the gluteus maximus in extending the hip.

Furthermore, well-developed hamstrings can enhance the stability of the knee and hip, which is crucial for exercises such as deadlifts, as well as dynamic movements like the kettlebell swing.


The quadriceps are responsible for the front part of the thighs and play a key role in extending the knees. They are engaged in initiating the movement from the ground and in straightening the legs while thrusting the hips forward. Additionally, they support the hamstrings in maintaining knee stability.


The erector spinae muscles, situated on either side of the spine, play a crucial role in maintaining a strong and stable back posture. Their main function is to extend the back and ensure it remains in a neutral position while engaging in physical activities.

When performing kettlebell deadlifts, these muscles are particularly active as they exert significant effort to prevent the spine from rounding or flexing.


The rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, obliques, and other core muscles need to contract isometrically to maintain torso support while performing the kettlebell deadlift.

These muscles act as stabilizers, ensuring the kettlebell is moved safely through its full range of motion.


The latissimus dorsi, also known as the 'lats,' are the largest muscles in the upper body and are a significant part of the mid and upper back.

These muscles help maintain a stable torso position, ensuring that the kettlebell stays close to the body during the pulling movement. When the lats are engaged correctly, the risk of spinal flexion decreases, enabling individuals to lift weights more efficiently in a straight line.


The trapezius muscle is responsible for stabilizing the shoulder blades and plays a crucial role in maintaining shoulder stability during kettlebell deadlifts. Additionally, it helps prevent excessive rounding of the upper back while performing the exercise.


Kettlebell deadlifts offer numerous advantages, with one of the most notable being the activation of the entire body. This exercise focuses on engaging the posterior chain, which includes the back, core, and legs, while also enhancing functional strength in the arms, grip, and shoulders. Additionally, kettlebell deadlifts can contribute to improving posture.

By performing this movement correctly, by utilizing the legs and maintaining a straight back, individuals can counteract the negative effects of prolonged sitting and leaning. Furthermore, kettlebell deadlifts are an effective way to elevate heart rate and burn calories.

How to do kettlebell deadlift?  KETTLEBELL DEADLIFT STEPS

  • To start, position the kettlebell in between your feet.
  • Assume a squat position by bending your knees, and then grasp the kettlebell with both hands. Ensure that your spine remains in a neutral position throughout the exercise.
  • Engage your glutes and activate your core as you lift your body with your arms fully extended. Generate power by pushing through your feet, allowing the kettlebell to naturally rise rather than relying on your arms to lift it as you transition to a standing position.
  • As you lower the kettlebell back to the ground, bend your knees while keeping your arms extended throughout the entire movement.
  • Strive to maintain proper form for 12-15 repetitions.

How Many Kettlebell Deadlifts Should I do?

The answer to this question is contingent upon your objectives, level of experience, and most importantly, your access to kettlebells. If you have a variety of kettlebell weights at your disposal, you have several options. To focus on strength, aim for 3-4 sets of 3-6 repetitions at 80-90% of your maximum weight. Alternatively, you could follow a training routine such as the 5x5 or undulated-periodization. For explosive strength, the optimal rep range is 3-5 reps using 50% of your maximum weight. If your goal is lighter workouts for fat loss and endurance building, try doing 3-5 sets of 12-25 reps, adjusting the intensity between 40-70% of your maximum weight. This lighter range will enhance your aerobic conditioning, leading to faster calorie burning.

If you are exercising at home and only have one or two kettlebells, you will need to focus on volume training in order to improve your strength endurance. In this type of training, you will gradually increase the number of repetitions in each set or work for a specific amount of time while carrying a load (try to see how many repetitions you can do in a minute, take a rest, and then repeat). Once you are able to perform 15-20 reps in each set, it may be time to consider using a heavier kettlebell or adding a second kettlebell (refer to the double kettlebell deadlifts below). At USA Iron, we view the deadlift as a pathway to the powerful Kettlebell Swing. Unless you have a specific reason not to perform the kettlebell swing, we recommend progressing to that exercise next. With swings, you will be using the same weight for a more dynamic full-body workout.

Kettlebell deadlift variations for Strength & Mass

After mastering the deadlift technique, you can begin incorporating different kettlebell deadlift variations into your workout routine.

Single Arm Deadlift

The single arm deadlift focuses on loading one side at a time (unilaterally), requiring your core to engage for cross stabilization. Choose a weight that you can handle with ease while maintaining proper form. This exercise serves as an excellent introduction before progressing to the 1 handed swing.

Double Kettlebell Deadlift

The double kettlebell serves as an excellent substitute for barbell deadlifts, and in some cases, it is even superior. If you possess a pair of kettlebells, it is highly recommended to incorporate this exercise into your kettlebell program. Utilizing double kettlebells will increase the intensity on your body, leading to remarkable outcomes.

Single Arm Suitcase Deadlift

The single arm suitcase deadlift involves lifting the kettlebell from the side of your foot, similar to how you would lift a suitcase. This exercise is ideal for beginners who are new to deadlifts, as it allows them to become familiar with the movement in a more natural way.

 Double Kettlebell Suitcase Deadlifts

After mastering the hip hinge, it is now time to practice this particular movement. As the name suggests, it involves lifting two suitcases from the ground. The technique follows the standard deadlift rules, with the only variation being the placement of the kettlebells on the outer side of your feet. This movement is reminiscent of a trap bar deadlift.

Single Leg Kettlebell Deadlift

This is a beloved choice for us (and numerous individuals). This exercise resembles the Romanian deadlift, and it has the ability to engage the entire body. Nevertheless, your hamstrings and glutes will truly experience the effects the following day. Take a look at the video for further insights. For additional details about this exercise, refer to our dedicated article on the Single Leg Deadlift.

The kettlebell deadlift is an excellent exercise to begin with when incorporating KBs into your workout routine. It is recommended to include this exercise in the initial stages of training. If your goal is to improve strength, speed, and overall aerobic fitness, the kettlebell deadlift is a reliable choice.

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