10 Best Kettlebell Back Exercises & Back Workout

10 Best Kettlebell Back Exercises & Back Workout

Jan 28, 2024

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10 Best Kettlebell Back Exercises & Kettlebell Back Workout

Having a strong, toned back provides immense benefits beyond just looking good. The muscles of the back support proper posture and movement, help prevent injury, and allow you to lift heavier weights in compound exercises.

That's why it's so important not to neglect back training.

Kettlebells offer an extremely effective way to work all the muscles of the back. The unique design of kettlebells allows for dynamic, multi-plane movements that mimic real-life motion. This trains the small stabilizer muscles as well as the large prime movers.

In this article, we will cover the 10 best kettlebell back exercises to sculpt a strong, defined back. We'll also provide sample kettlebell back workouts and tips to maximize your training.

Muscles of the Back Anatomy Muscles of the Back Anatomy ripl fitness

Anatomy of the Back

Before jumping into the exercises, let's briefly overview the muscles of the back. The main muscles involved in back exercises include:

  • Latissimus dorsi (lats): Large, flat muscles running down the back below the armpits responsible for pulling the arm down and inwards.

  • Trapezius (traps): Triangular muscle running from the base of the neck out to the shoulder blades; raises, rotates and pulls back the scapulae.

  • Rhomboids: Muscles connecting the inner scapula to the spinal column; draw shoulders back.

  • Erector spinae: Long muscle running along the spine on both sides; extends and laterally flexes the spinal column.

  • Rear deltoids: Round muscle at back of shoulder joint; pulls arm backwards.

In addition, many smaller muscles like the multifidus, rotator cuff, teres muscles and deep spinal muscles stabilize the spine and shoulder blades during back exercises.

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Benefits of Kettlebell Back Training

Strengthening your back with kettlebells offers numerous benefits beyond bigger, stronger muscles, including:

  • Improved posture - Strong back muscles keep your shoulders from rounding forward.

  • Reduced lower back pain - Strengthening muscles around the spine stabilizes it.

  • Greater balance and stability - Kettlebells improve control of torso and shoulders.

  • Increased power for compound lifts - A strong back allows heavier squats and deadlifts.

  • Fat loss - Kettlebell training burns calories and builds lean muscle.

  • Confidence - There's no better feeling than feeling strong!

Now let's get to the top 10 best kettlebell exercises for sculpting and strengthening your back from top to bottom.

Kettlebell Swing

The two-handed kettlebell swing is a dynamic exercise that trains the entire posterior chain along the back of the body. This movement patterns hinges at the hips, not the lower back, while the lats, middle back, and traps stabilize the upper body.

How to Perform:

  • Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width holding the kettlebell with both hands.
  • Hinge hips back while keeping a neutral spine. Let the kettlebell swing between legs.
  • Drive hips forcefully forward and swing kettlebell up to chest height. Avoid overswing.
  • Control descent as kettlebell swings back between legs.
  • Sets/Reps: 5 sets of 10-15 reps

Kettlebell Row

Nothing builds a thick, strong back like rows. The kettlebell row targets the lats, rear delts, rhomboids, and traps. Use a bench or incline bench to support upper body.

How to Perform:

  • Place your hand on bench or stagger your step.
  • Keep back straight, engage core, and row kettlebell to side of chest.
  • Lower under control. Complete reps then switch sides.
  • Sets/Reps: 4 sets of 8-12 reps per side

Kettlebell Renegade Row

The renegade row is an intense exercise that trains the back through a stabilizing plank position. It challenges the core, shoulders, and grip too. Use lighter kettlebells first.

How to Perform:

  • Hold push-up plank position with hands on kettlebell handles about shoulder-width apart or wider.
  • Maintaining plank position, row one kettlebell up underneath chest then lower again.
  • Repeat rowing with opposite arm. Alternate sides.
  • Sets/Reps: 3 sets of 6-10 reps per side

Kettlebell Pullover

The kettlebell pullover targets the lats in a large range of diagonal motion across the torso. This exercise opens up the chest and front of the shoulders too.

How to Perform:

  • Lie perpendicular to an incline bench holding kettlebell above chest with both hands.
  • Keeping arms straight, lower kettlebell down and behind head in a wide arc.
  • Use lats to pull kettlebell back up over chest.
  • Sets/Reps: 3 sets of 10-15 controlled reps

Kettlebell Single-Arm Deadlift

This unilateral deadlift variation strengthens the entire posterior chain down the back of the body. It also improves balance, grip strength, and core stability.

How to Perform:

  • Stand holding kettlebell in one hand, lower back arched slightly.
  • Hinge at hips and lower kettlebell toward floor while opposite arm counterbalances.
  • Drive through heel, squeeze glutes and hamstrings to return upright.
  • Sets/Reps: 4 sets of 6-10 reps per side

Kettlebell Good Morning

The kettlebell good morning is similar to a straight-legged deadlift. Keeping knees mostly straight increases activation of the hamstrings and spinal erectors.

How to Perform:

  • Hold kettlebell by shoulders at chest height with feet under hips.
  • Maintaining a neutral spine, hinge at hips and lower kettlebell towards front of feet.
  • Squeeze glutes and hamstrings to return to start position.
  • Sets/Reps: 3 sets of 10-15 reps

Kettlebell Back Extension

The back extension on a roman chair isolates the erector spinae muscles running parallel along the spine. This exercise reverses posture to decompress the discs.

How to Perform:

  • Secure ankles under pads and hold kettlebell at chest or behind the head.
  • With a slight arch in the lower back, lower torso down towards the floor.
  • Use back muscles to raise the torso until hips and spine are neutral.
  • Sets/Reps: 3 sets to muscular fatigue

Kettlebell Hang Clean

The explosive kettlebell clean trains power production in the hips and traps. Catching the descending kettlebell requires control from the lats and upper back.

How to Perform:

  • Send kettlebell back explosively between legs then drive hips forward.
  • Rotate elbow underneath to catch kettlebell on front of shoulder in rack position.
  • Carefully return kettlebell between legs for the next rep.
  • Sets/Reps: 5 sets of 3-6 reps

Kettlebell High Pull

The kettlebell high pull adds upper back and shoulder involvement by pulling the kettlebell up once launched from the hips. This builds explosive strength through the lats and traps.

How to Perform:

  • Swing kettlebell between legs then explosively drive hips forwards and pull elbow up high.
  • Slowly return kettlebell to starting position for the next rep.
  • Sets/Reps: 4 sets of 6-10 reps

Kettlebell Bottoms-Up Press

This advanced exercise requires tremendous shoulder and core stability to press the inverted kettlebell overhead. The upper back and lats fixate the shoulder in place against resistance.

How to Perform:

  • Clean kettlebell into rack then carefully rotate until bottom faces up.
  • Maintaining rigid core and alignment press kettlebell straight overhead.
  • Return kettlebell to rack position before repeating the press.
  • Sets/Reps: 5 sets of 3-6 reps per side

Programming Your Kettlebell Back Workout

When programming your kettlebell back workout, properly warm up the shoulders and spine with light kettlebell halos and thoracic rotations.

Train the back twice per week, allowing at least a day of rest between sessions. Focus on 2-4 exercises per workout, mixing combinations of hinging patterns, rowing motions, and stabilization exercises.

Progressively increase the kettlebell load to continually challenge the muscles. Use a weight where the final 2 reps of each set are very difficult but maintain proper form.

Consistently training your back with heavy kettlebells will build incredible strength through the entire posterior chain. A thick, powerful back not only looks impressive but also improves health and athletic performance.

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Kettlebell Back Workout Sample Programming

Now that you know the top 10 kettlebell back exercises, let’s look at how you can program these moves into a complete back workout.

The following 3 kettlebell back workouts are designed for beginner, intermediate, and advanced lifters. Feel free to substitute comparable exercises as needed.

Beginner Kettlebell Back Workout

Warm Up:

  • Kettlebell Halos: 1-2 sets of 10 reps per side
  • Cat-Cows: 8-10 reps


  • Kettlebell Row: 3 sets of 10 reps per side
  • Kettlebell Swing: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Back Extension: 2 sets to fatigue

Cooldown Stretch:

  • Child’s Pose
  • Kneeling Lat Stretch

Intermediate Kettlebell Back Workout

Warm Up:

  • Kettlebell Halos: 1-2 sets of 10 reps per side
  • Thoracic Rotations: 1-2 sets of 10 reps per side


  • Single-Arm Kettlebell Row: 4 sets of 8 reps per side
  • Kettlebell Good Morning: 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Kettlebell High Pull: 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Lat Pulldowns: 3 sets to fatigue

Cooldown Stretch:

  • Child’s Pose
  • Kneeling Lat Stretch

Advanced Kettlebell Back Workout

Warm Up:

  • Kettlebell Halos: 1-2 sets of 10 reps per side
  • Thoracic Rotations: 1-2 sets of 10 reps per side
  • Cat-Cows: 8-10 reps


  • Single-Arm Kettlebell Renegade Row: 3 sets of 6 reps per side
  • Kettlebell Hang Clean: 5 sets of 3 reps per side
  • Kettlebell Bottoms-Up Press: 5 sets of 3 reps per side
  • Back Extension with Kettlebell: 3 sets to fatigue

Cooldown Stretch:

  • Child’s Pose
  • Kneeling Lat Stretch

Kettlebells are an extremely effective and challenging tool for sculpting strong, defined back muscles.

Follow these back workouts and top kettlebell exercises consistently to see incredible results in both appearance and functional strength.

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What is a kettlebell back exercise?

A kettlebell back exercise is a workout routine that involves using a kettlebell to target and strengthen the muscles in your back. These exercises are effective for building a stronger back and improving back strength and posture.

What are the best kettlebell back exercises?

The best kettlebell back exercises include kettlebell swings, kettlebell rows, kettlebell renegade rows, kettlebell pullovers, kettlebell single-arm deadlifts, kettlebell good mornings, kettlebell back extensions, kettlebell hang cleans, kettlebell high pulls, and kettlebell bottoms-up presses.

How do I perform a kettlebell clean?

To perform a kettlebell clean, grip the kettlebell in each hand, hinge at the hips, lower the kettlebell to the floor, and then explosively lift it while bringing the kettlebell to the rack position close to your chest.

How do kettlebell exercises help strengthen the back muscles?

Kettlebell exercises like swings, rows, and deadlifts effectively target and strengthen the muscles in the back, including the upper back muscles, lower back muscles, and the muscles along the spine.

What are the benefits of training your back with kettlebells?

Training your back with kettlebells offers benefits such as building a stronger back, improving back posture, increasing back strength, and enhancing overall back muscle development.

How do I perform a kettlebell single-leg deadlift?

To perform a kettlebell single-leg deadlift, hold a kettlebell in one hand, keep your back flat, lift the kettlebell by hinging at the hips while extending one leg backward, and then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.

What muscles in the back are targeted by effective kettlebell back exercises?

Effective kettlebell back exercises target muscles in the back, including the upper back muscles, lower back muscles, erector spinae, lats, and traps.

What are some exercises like kettlebell plank row?

Exercises like kettlebell plank row include rowing the kettlebell while in a plank position to engage the core and strengthen the back muscles.

What is the importance of a strong back?

A strong back is essential for maintaining good posture, preventing back pain, and supporting proper movement. It also allows you to perform various activities with ease and reduce the risk of back-related injuries.

How do I lift the kettlebell from the floor for effective kettlebell back workout?

To lift the kettlebell from the floor, grip the kettlebell, hinge at the hips, and use your back strength to bring the kettlebell up from the floor while maintaining proper form.

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My Personal Experience

10 Best Kettlebell Back Exercises: A Game Changer

So, you've heard about these kettlebell back exercises, huh? Well, let me tell you, they're more than just a workout – they're a game changer. I was introduced to kettlebell exercises a while back, and boy, have they transformed my fitness routine.

Kettlebell Single-Arm Swings: A New Love Affair

One of my all-time favorites has to be the kettlebell single-arm swings. It's like a dance with a dumbbell, but way more fun.

The explosive motion engages both my lower and upper back, and it's a fantastic pull exercise. Plus, it's a real calorie burner – a kettlebell workout can leave you feeling like a champ.

Kettlebell Halos: A Head-Turning Experience

Have you ever tried the kettlebell halo? It's not just about swinging a kettlebell around your head; it's an experience.

You'll feel the burn in your mid and upper back as you gracefully circle that kettlebell. It's like a secret handshake for your back muscles.

Kettlebell Single-Arm Rows: Building a Great Back

Building a great back takes time and effort, and kettlebell single-arm rows are one of the best tools in your arsenal.

You're not just lifting a kettlebell; you're strengthening your back muscles, one kettlebell at a time. It's like sculpting a masterpiece.

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Kettlebell Single-Leg Deadlift: Balancing Act

Balance is key in life, and the kettlebell single-leg deadlift teaches you just that. It's like walking a tightrope while holding a kettlebell.

Your lower back will thank you for the stability and strength you gain from this exercise.

The Best Kettlebell Exercises: A Treasure Hunt

Exploring the world of kettlebells feels like a treasure hunt. With so many exercises to choose from, you'll never get bored.

From kettlebell swings to kettlebell deadlifts, each exercise targets different parts of your back and core, helping you grow your back strength.

My Tried-and-True Workout Routine

I've incorporated kettlebell exercises as a superset in my workout routine, and the results have been outstanding.

The combination of upper and lower back exercises as a part of my kettlebell routine has given me the kind of strength I never thought possible.

Benefits of a Strong Back: No More Pain

The benefits of a strong back are not to be underestimated. It's not just about looking good; it's about feeling good. A strong back and core help prevent lower back pain, and it's a feeling of relief like no other. Your mid and upper back will thank you for it.

So, there you have it, my personal experience with kettlebell back exercises. Give them a try, and you'll discover that they're not just exercises – they're a journey towards a healthier, stronger, and pain-free back.

For More Training Advice + Diet and Lifestyle visit us RIPL Fitness

PS: Make sure you check out the rest of our Back Training Guides:

5 Best Calisthenics Back Exercises + Calisthenics Back Workout

5 Best Lower Back Exercises + Best Back Exercises Machines

Top 10 TRX Exercises To Build A Stronger Back

10 Best Resistance Band Back Exercises + Back Workout

11 Best Landmine Exercises For Back & Upper Body

15 Best Smith Machine Back Exercises

Top 3 Back Exercises For A Stronger Back: Build Size And Strength

10 Best Cable Back Workout Exercises