kettlebell deadlift

Master Your Hip Hinge With The Kettlebell Deadlift

by Evelyn Valdez

If you’re a frequent lifter, then you already know how powerful deadlifts can be when it comes to increasing muscle strength and size. On top of that, different deadlift variations offer additional benefits, such as kettlebell deadlifts!

Because the weight is lighter and the range of motion is more natural than other variations, kettlebell deadlifts allow you to increase hip flexibility without straining it. On top of that, it targets your glutes, hamstrings, quads, core, and lower back, increasing your lower-body strength and power for better exercise performance.

To help you master this intermediate deadlift exercise and help you move onto heavier weights, we’re going to show you step-by-step how to perform a kettlebell deadlift with good form. Plus, some common mistakes to avoid and effective variations, so keep reading!

How to perform a kettlebell deadlift

The main difference between barbell and kettlebell deadlifts is that, while the barbell distributes the weight evenly across your body, the kettlebell keeps it at the center. This allows you to develop the natural hip-hinge movement that you perform whenever you’re picking something up, such as a package that just got delivered to your door.

If you want to master the hip-hinge movement and build a stronger lower body, here’s how to deadlift with a kettlebell safely and effectively:

Position your feet

  1. First, grab a kettlebell and place it on the floor, then stand in front of it with your back straight and your head tall.
  2. Place your feet between hip and shoulder-width apart and pointed slightly outward, making sure you’re in a comfortable position to perform the exercise.

Grab the kettlebell

  1. Bend at the hips and slightly at the knees, pushing your hips back while keeping your back straight until you reach the kettlebell handle.
  2. Grab the handle with both hands in an overhand grip, keeping your arms extended and your shoulders right above the kettlebell. 

Perform the exercise

  1. Engage your core and begin the movement by straightening your knees and pushing your hips forward to full extension, lifting the kettlebell as you go up.
  2. At the top of the movement, your body should be back at the standing position while holding the kettlebell at thigh height, with a neutral spine and your shoulders down and back.
  3. Squeeze your muscles in this position, then reverse the movement until the kettlebell touches the ground again – and you’re done with your first rep!

Common mistakes to avoid

Before jumping right into the exercise, you need to make sure that you understand what you should and shouldn’t do during the movement. These are the most common mistakes that you should avoid during kettlebell deadlifts:

Not keeping a straight back

Since your back muscles are the ones in charge of protecting your spine, rounding your back would disengage them, transferring all the tension to your spine and putting it at risk of injury. 

To avoid this, you need to keep your shoulders down and back throughout the full range of motion. Make sure you’re keeping your head tall so that you have a neutral spine position during the deadlift, and switch to a lighter weight if you still feel your shoulders dropping down.

Forgetting to engage your core

Your core is located right at the center of your body, and it’s what helps you keep your balance during all kinds of exercises. An engaged core allows you to move through the exercise more swiftly and it gives you additional protection to keep your spine safe.

Additionally, engaging your core helps the weight of the kettlebell travel down to your back and legs. If you don’t engage your core muscles properly, much of the weight will stay on your upper body along your arms, completely switching the target of the exercise, which you’ll want to avoid.

Bending your arms during the lift

Your arms should be pointing straight down during the whole exercise while you’re holding the weight, and you’ll want to make sure that you're not bending your elbows while you do this.

If you keep your elbows bent, you won’t be able to transfer enough force from your back and shoulder muscles to your grip, limiting the amount of weight you can lift. On top of that, it would shift the weight to your elbow joints which could strain them, so make sure to keep your arms straight!

Using the improper stance for you

When it comes to fitness, there is no “one size fits all” approach to anything. While your personal trainer might not need to bend their knees too much to reach the kettlebell, you might need a slightly different stance to be able to perform the movement safely.

This means that, instead of mimicking what you see others doing, you should aim to find the position that is most comfortable for you. Whether that’s bending your knees a little bit more or maybe pushing your hips a little farther back — simply make sure that you can lift the weight comfortably from that position!

Kettlebell deadlift variations

Ready to change things up during your deadlift workouts, or maybe feel like the standard kettlebell deadlift isn’t for you? Check out these popular variations that you can try next time you hit the gym:

Kettlebell sumo deadlift

During this variation your stance will be a lot wider, allowing you to lift heavier and switching the focus from your lower back to your inner thighs.

  1. Stand in front of the kettlebell with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing slightly out.
  2. Reach for the kettlebell as you bend at the hips and knees and grab the handle with both hands in an overhand grip.
  3. Engage your core and begin the exercise by pushing your hips forward, driving the weight up until your body is back in a standing position.
  4. Squeeze your muscles in this position, then slowly return the kettlebell to the floor and repeat.

Kettlebell suitcase deadlift

This variation is great for those who feel like they need to squeeze their chest to be able to hold the kettlebell properly, such as people with broad shoulders.

  1. Stand with a kettlebell to your right and your feet around shoulder-width apart, pointing your toes slightly out.
  2. Bend at the hips and knees until you reach the kettlebell with the right hand, then firmly grasp it with a neutral grip while you keep your left arm in the air for balance.
  3. Engage your core and begin the exercise by straightening your legs and hips to full extension, pushing yourself up until you’re back in the standing position.
  4. Hold for a second while your squeeze your muscles, then lower the kettlebell to the floor and repeat.
  5. Finish your reps and switch to the opposite side.

Kettlebell single-leg Romanian deadlift

This unilateral variation is great if you want a more hamstring-focused workout, as it increases the range of motion of the leg worked and gives it a bigger stretch.

  1. Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointed slightly outward, and both hands already holding the kettlebell down and center with an overhand grip.
  2. Engage your core and begin the exercise by hinging at the hips and bringing your torso forward as you simultaneously lift your left leg backward until the kettlebell touches the floor.
  3. At the bottom position, the kettlebell should be down as you form a straight line with your torso and left leg that is parallel to the floor, and your right leg and arms should be perpendicular to it.
  4. Pause for a moment as you squeeze your muscles, then slowly reverse the movement and repeat.
  5. Finish your reps and switch to the opposite side.

Increased hip mobility means better exercise performance

Limited hip mobility can negatively impact your workouts by not allowing you to move throughout the full range of motion freely, so give kettlebell deadlifts and their variations a try and you’ll notice a difference in no time!

Who are we?

We're UPPPER Fitness Gear – your new favorite fitness gear company! Founded by Iulia Danilova (Fit With Iulia), we strive to make fitness gear that is high-quality, durable, comfortable, stylish, and most importantly, designed to help take your workouts to the next level. 

>> Shop UPPPER Collection <<

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published