How to Master the Kettlebell Deadlift

The Kettlebell Deadlift offers the perfect introduction into Kettlebell lifting and must be mastered before further hip hinge exercises like the Kettlebell Swing are practiced.

Kettlebell Deadlift Benefits

The Kettlebell Deadlift activates most muscles in the body and relies on the posterior chain consisting of the Glutes, Hamstrings and Back Extensors. The sole reason for practicing this exercise before the Kettlebell Swing is because motor control, mobility and correct muscle activation must all work together in order to maximize effective movement and minimalize the risk of injury.

Kettlebell Deadlift Technique

The kettlebell deadlift focuses on movement from the hips while keeping a flat and isometrically (statically) maintained lower back. One of the biggest problems with the kettlebell deadlift along with other hip hinge based exercises like the kettlebell swing is that the movement often comes from the lower back rather than the hips. Consistent lifting by hinging at the lower back will ultimately lead to serious back injuries. So hinge at the hips and NOT at the lower back.

In order to fully activate the muscles at the back of the body ensure that your body weight is more centered over your heels rather than your toes.

Keep your chest up and lower back flat as you hinge over and pick up the kettlebell. The depth at which you can reach down to the floor will be determined by your Hamstring flexibility. If you cannot reach the kettlebell handle without bending at the lower back then place the kettlebell on a small box or step.

The knees should bend as you reach down to pick up the kettlebell but the hips should be forced backwards with the weight on the outside of the feet and onto the heels. By concentrating on the distribution of weight over your feet you will feel the activation up and into your Glutes (buttocks).

Keep you shoulders down and back, the hand not doing the lifting can be tucked out of harms way behind the back. Don’t lift with your shoulders and keep your shoulders well away from your ears.

Keep a good grip on the kettlebell to help correctly activate your shoulder stabilizers.

As you pick the kettlebell up from the bottom position drive forwards with your hips using your hip extensors (buttocks and hamstrings). Think about snapping the hips forwards with power rather than slowly standing up, this will prepare you for the hip snap used during the kettlebell swing.

You can practice the Kettlebell Deadlift with various weights, ironically many people find using a heavier weight enables them to better feel the Glutes and Hamstrings working and forces better activation through the lower half of the body.

Kettlebell Deadlift Workouts to Try

Workout 1

  • Deadlift Left x 10 reps
  • Deadlift Right x 10 reps
  • Slingshot x 10 reps each way
  • Repeat 4 times

Workout 2

  • Deadlift Left x 60 secs
  • Deadlift Right x 60 secs
  • Halo x 60 secs changing direction each rep
  • Repeat 3 times

Workout 3

  • Slingshot – 30 secs
  • Halo – 30 secs
  • Good Mornings – 30 secs
  • Deadlift – 30 secs each side
  • Repeat 3 times no rest

Once you have mastered the kettlebell deadlift you can move onto more dynamic exercises like the kettlebell swing.

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