How to do a Kettlebell Deadlift

What is a Kettlebell Deadlift?

The Kettlebell Deadlift provides the outline for the basic movement pattern of all hinge movements with the kettlebell. It’s a precursory movement that will teach you how to bend at your hips while doing the kettlebell swing, one-hand kettlebell swing, and kettlebell snatch. Increasing the weight and changing your variation will also improve strength, balance, and core strength. 

This movement has several variations. For the purpose of this video and article, I will be describing the Romanian Deadlift variation, but I will provide explanations for the other popular forms of the movement. 

The Kettlebell Deadlift is a full-body exercise with an emphasis on the following muscle groups:

  • Core
  • Back
  • Shoulders
  • Legs

How to Do a Kettlebell Deadlift (Instructions):

Start with the kettlebell placed between your heels, with your feet apart. Stand with your feet forward, placed a little more than shoulder-width apart. As you inhale, sink and hinge down by bending at your hips, with your knees slightly bent, and with your hands grabbing the horn of the kettlebell. 
As you exhale, stand up while holding the kettlebell, until your torso is upright and with your arms still holding onto the kettlebell. As you inhale, sink and hinge down by bending at your hips to your starting position. Repeat.

Variations of the Kettlebell Deadlift

Like I mentioned previously, there are several different variations of this movement. While I demonstrated and described the Romanian Deadlift variation, here are some of the other forms you might encounter. 

1. Sumo Kettlebell Deadlift

For this variation, you will bend your knees more than a Romanian Deadlift. Start by taking a wider stance with your feet, with the kettlebell still placed between your heels. Inhale, and sink your bottom down toward the ground by bending your knees more than you would in a Romanian Deadlift. Grab the kettlebell horn, and as you exhale, stand back up until the kettlebell is off the ground. Return back to your starting position. 

2. Suitcase Kettlebell Deadlift

This variation works well for double kettlebell training, but you can do this with just one. Start by placing the kettlebells on the ground outside of our feet. Stand with your feet a little closer shoulder width apart, inhale, hinge down with your hips with your knees slightly bent, and grab the kettlebells with your hands. Inhale and hinge back up, until you are standing upright with both hands holding the kettlebells on the outside of your body.

3. Arabesque Kettlebell Deadlift

This is an advanced variation. Start by standing with your feet together, and with the kettlebell just in front of your feet. As you inhale, take your left leg off the ground, hinge down, and grab the kettlebell with your left hand. As you are hinging down move your left leg back and away from you. As you exhale, hinge up until you are standing upright with the kettlebell at your side. Repeat on the other leg. 

The trick to this exercise is foot placement with your foot that’s off the ground. The further that foot is away from your body, the harder this movement is. 

Trainer Tips for the Kettlebell Deadlift

  • Progression (make harder)
    • Use a heavier weight. Scale up in 8kg increments (16kg, 24kg, 32kg, etc…)
    • Do a Sumo Kettlebell Deadlift variation
    • Do a Suitcase Kettlebell Deadlift variation with two kettlebells
    • Do an Arabesque Kettlebell Deadlift variation
    • Do an Arabesque Kettlebell Deadlift variation with two kettlebells
  • Regression (make easier)
    • Use a lighter weight.
    • Lower your repetition count. 
  • Application:
    • Add these as warm-ups. This is great for opening up your hip mobility for a session.
    • Add these as an exercise to a kettlebell complex or flow.
  • Uses in Layman’s Fitness Programs:
    • 8-Week Kettlebell Thruster Program

Questions on Purchasing a Kettlebell?

Kettlebells are a phenomenal training tool, but they can add up quickly in cost. If you are new to kettlebell training or have questions on buying kettlebells, I put together this kettlebell buying guide to help you navigate through some of those initial questions. Enjoy!


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