The 11 Best Kettlebell Back Workouts for a Toned Back

The benefits of a good quality kettlebell back workout include a toned back, strong shoulders, core and a better posture.

Back problems are the most common health issues among Americans. Surveys have indicated that nearly 65 million Americans reported back pain, and 8% of adults experienced chronic back pain. Also, individuals with chronic back pain have reported suffering from negative feelings like depression and anger.

Since back problems limit everyday activities, specific kettlebell exercises that can strengthen the back and eventually help prevent lower back pain [1]PubMed: Effects of kettlebell training on postural coordination and jump performance: a randomized controlled trial might be highly beneficial. The benefits of a good quality kettlebell back exercise also include better posture, muscle development, and stronger shoulders. We have put together the best kettlebell back exercises for anyone from beginners to long-time fitness enthusiasts.

Here is an expert guide for a weekly kettlebell back workout for a stronger and toned back.

11 best kettlebell back workouts to do 

There are many kettlebell back exercises that can help you strengthen your spine, shoulders, upper back, and lower back. Given below are the best kettlebell back exercises for the upper and lower back. 

Upper back kettlebell exercises 

Kettlebell upper back exercises strengthen different muscles, including deltoids, rhomboids, trapezius, spine, and shoulders. Some of the best kettlebell upper back exercises are:

1. Supine kettlebell pullover

Target Muscles: Middle and lower back muscles,  including latissimus dorsi and serratus anterior. 

How to do

  • Rest on the ground on your back with your knees slightly bent at 90 degrees. Hold a kettlebell by its horn with your hands.
  • While keeping the spine straight, touching the ground, pull the kettlebell upward above your chest.
  • Now, begin to move it backward such that it crosses your head and reaches the ground.
  • Bring the kettlebell to the starting position to complete a rep.
  • Do 3 sets of 10 reps each.

Summary: Kettlebell pullover builds the muscles in the middle and lower back and is a great exercise that helps to better groove overhead movement and core stability.

2. Kettlebell plank row

Target muscles: Mid-back muscles, shoulder muscles

How to do

  • Begin with a plank position while holding a kettlebell in each hand. Both the kettlebells will be on the ground, and you will be in an elevated or high plank position.
  • Keeping your glute and core tight, grip the kettlebell handles firmly and row the kettlebell to your rib cage, pause for a few seconds, and then return to the start.
  • Do 10 repetitions on each side. 

Summary: Also known as the kettlebell renegade row, the kettlebell plank row is one of the best kettlebell workouts for the back since it targets the mid-back muscles and also offers good shoulder strength.

 3. Kettlebell halo

Target muscles: Upper back muscles, shoulder muscles

How to do

  • Stand on your feet hip-width apart and hold the kettlebell with the handle at chest level. Make sure your elbows are at 45 degrees with respect to your trunk.
  • Keeping your back straight and core engaged, move the kettlebell in a circular motion around your head such that it passes your right shoulder.
  • Keep your head straight and upright as you bring the kettlebell back to its original position. 
  • Now repeat the movement over the left side of your head.

Summary: The kettlebell halo is another great workout that targets upper back muscles and shoulder muscles to improve mobility.

4. Kettlebell single-arm deadlift

Target Muscles: Lower and upper body muscles, hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, core muscles

How to do

  • Stand with your feet nearly shoulder-width apart and your head facing forward. 
  • Position the kettlebell between your feet on the ground. 
  • Bend by lowering your hips and bending your knees slightly. 
  • Pick the kettlebell with a single arm.
  • Pause for a few seconds before lowering it back again. 
  • Now repeat with the other hand.

Summary: The kettlebell single-arm deadlift is one of the best kettlebell workouts for the back that targets the lower as well as upper body muscles. This workout also works on hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, and core muscles.

5. Kettlebell upright row

Target muscles: Back muscles, shoulder muscles, trapezius, deltoids, and rhomboids

How to do

  • Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart, with your toes pointing outward.
  • Keep your knees slightly bent. 
  • Grabbing only one kettlebell with its handle in an overhand grip with both of your hands, slowly pull up the weight until your elbows are above your wrists and in line with your shoulders.
  • Lower the kettlebell and go back to the starting position.
  • Do a total of 15 reps. 

Summary: The upright row primarily addresses the upper back and shoulders. The main muscles worked in this back and shoulder workout include the trapezius, deltoids, and rhomboids. If done correctly, this compound exercise also targets the entire body.

6. Kettlebell shoulder press 

Target muscles: Triceps, shoulder muscles, upper back, posterior deltoid, and erector spinae (lower back)

How to do

  • Hold a lightweight kettlebell in your right hand.
  • Stand tall with your feet a bit wider than hip-width apart. Let your feet turn out slightly. 
  • Now press the kettlebell up with one arm while squeezing its handle and bring it closer to your right shoulder, keeping the elbow tucked in and close to your body. 
  • Make sure your wrist is straight while the arm is bent and holding the kettlebell and the arm is positioned against your body.
  • Now push it directly overhead and squeeze your glutes as you do so.
  • Bring it down closer to your right shoulder and repeat the overhead arm movement.
  • Do 10 reps and move the kettlebell to your left side and holed in your left hand.
  • Repeat the 10 reps with your left arm holding the kettlebell.

Summary: Although the kettlebell shoulder press, also known as kettlebell overhead press, primarily works on your triceps and shoulders, this kettlebell shoulder workout can effectively target your upper back, posterior deltoid, and erector spinae (lower back) as well.

Lower back kettlebell exercises 

If you are looking for a kettlebell workout that targets your lower back, there are plenty of lower back workouts to do at home.

7. Kettlebell swing

Target muscles: Back muscles, hamstrings, glutes, and upper back muscles

How to do

  • Get into proper form by getting into the deadlift portion. Position the kettlebell on the ground between your ankle bones. 
  • Lift the kettlebell off the ground, keeping your arms long and loose while squeezing the shoulder blades.
  • Lower your butt and shift your body weight into your heels. 
  • Move the kettlebell backward while sending your hips backward. 
  • Driving through your heels, swing the weight upward with your arms extended.
  • Keep swinging the kettlebell backward and forward by repeating the above movements. 

Summary: Kettlebell swings are a full-body workout that primarily targets your back muscles and uses your hamstrings, glutes, and upper back muscles. This exercise is good for cardiovascular fitness and improves strength and power.

8. Kettlebell pushup

Target muscles: Deltoids, obliques, rectus, pectorals, and trapezius

How to do

  • Get into a push-up or high plank position with two kettlebells in front of you placed shoulder-width apart. 
  • Maintain a shoulder-width distance between your feet and ensure that your neck and spine are straight.
  • With a neutral grip, hold the kettlebells with their handles. 
  • Lean forward to perform a push-up and hold on when you reach the top.
  • Return back to the starting position and repeat.

Summary: The kettlebell pushup allows you to perform the pushing movement of the push-ups while balancing out the pull-ups of the row. The main muscles worked in this workout are deltoids, obliques, rectus, pectorals, and trapezius.

9. Kettlebell good morning

Target muscles: Hamstrings, abs, and glutes

How to do

  • Stand upright with a kettlebell in your hands and feet hip-width apart. 
  • Hold the kettlebell behind your head such that your elbows point forward.
  • Drive your butt back until your chest is parallel to the floor.
  • Pause for a few seconds and then get back to the original position to complete one rep. 

Summary: If you are looking for kettlebell exercises for the core and lower back, the kettlebell good morning exercise is a great one to rely on. It also helps to build the posterior chain and works the hamstrings, abs, and glutes.

10. Kettlebell clean

Target muscles: Quads, core, glutes, triceps, hamstrings, and lower back muscles

How to do

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with a kettlebell on the ground in front of you, placed between your feet.
  • Keeping a slight bend at the knees, grasp the kettlebell.
  • With an explosive movement, pull the kettlebell backward with one hand.
  • Drive your hips and then straighten your back to gain momentum.
  • Now swing the kettlebell down again to the starting position.
  • Keep repeating the movement on alternate sides.

Summary: The kettlebell clean is a full-body movement that builds strong shoulders, back, forearms, and core.

11. Kettlebell gorilla row

Target muscles: Upper and lower back muscles, lats, hip flexors, core, and forearms.

How to do

  • Stand holding the kettlebells at your hips with your shoulder blades tight.
  • Hinge forward so that your torso is at a 45-degree angle.
  • Keep your core tight and shoulders level with the ground.
  • Lift one weight upwards in a rowing motion, pressing the other weight into the ground. 
  • Repeat on the other side.

Summary: Kettlebell gorilla row improves grip and back strength. You should keep the same tone through your abdominals as you pull the kettlebells into your body to ensure you don’t arch excessively through your spine.

1-week kettlebell back workout plan

Here is a 1-week kettlebell back workout plan that incorporates the above kettlebell back exercises to offer a complete upper and lower back workout.

One Week Kettlebell Back Exercises 
Day 1Supine kettlebell pullover: 10 x 3 reps
Kettlebell good morning: 8 x 3 reps
Day 3Kettlebell plank row: 10 x 3 reps (each side)
Kettlebell single arm deadlift: 8x 3 reps (each side)
Kettlebell swing: 20 seconds x 3 sets
Day 5Kettlebell halo: 10 x 3 reps
Kettlebell clean: 10 seconds x 3 reps
Kettlebell shoulder press: 10 x 3 reps
Day 7Kettlebell upright row: 12 x 3 sets
Kettlebell pushup: 12 x 3 sets
Kettlebell gorilla row 10 x 3 sets(each hand)

*Day 2, 4 and 6 are rest days. 

Beginner level – 1-week kettlebell back workout plan

If you are a beginner and are looking for exercises with a kettlebell, here are some effective exercises for you.

Exercises Reps Sets
Kettlebell single arm deadlift5-8 reps each side3
Kettlebell halo5-6 reps each direction3

Complete 3 circuits and take 1-minute rest in between each circuit.

Intermediate level – 1-week kettlebell back workout plan

This intermediate level kettle back workout includes a mix of exercises for the upper and lower back.

Exercises Reps Sets
Kettlebell clean 20 3
Kettlebell shoulder press10 3
Supine kettlebell pullover103
Kettlebell gorilla row103
Kettlebell good morning103

Complete 3 circuits and take a 1-minute break in between each circuit.

Advanced level – 1-week kettlebell back workout plan

Experts should do this advanced kettlebell back workout to develop good core strength and improve core strength while conditioning the back.

Exercises Reps Sets
Kettlebell upright row153
Kettlebell pushup with row153
Kettlebell plank row15 reps each side3
Kettlebell single arm deadlift10 reps each side3
Kettlebell swing30 seconds3

Complete 3 circuits and take 1-minute rest in between each circuit. You can perform a row with one kettlebell to save time. 

Benefits of kettlebell back workout

Kettlebell back workouts yield many amazing benefits for your body. We have listed 4 major benefits of doing these incredible and dynamic exercises on a regular basis. Read on:

1. Improves your back strength and posture – Kettlebell back workouts help to increase flexibility in the back and reduce back pain. Therefore, by doing kettlebell back exercises regularly, you can build up the strength in your back and improve your posture. 

2. Prevents injuries – The kettlebell back workout is a great way to prevent injuries by strengthening the muscles around your spine. By strengthening these muscles, you will be able to better support your spine and avoid injuries. 

3. Builds muscle – As a strength exercise, it boosts muscle building. The added weight of the kettlebells also makes them a great strength training exercise, as it puts extra pressure on your muscles. 

4. Promotes calorie burn – A kettlebell back workout can give your heart rate a perfect boost. The increased heart rate promotes a good calorie burn. Since it boosts muscle building, working out your back with kettlebells results in a higher metabolic rate and, therefore, a higher calorie burn.

Common mistakes to avoid

Working out with a kettlebell can be quite daunting if you are a beginner. Here are some kettlebell mistakes you should avoid to get the most out of your kettlebell workout.

1. Moving the neck

Do not move your neck too much while performing kettlebell exercises like kettlebell halo. If you bring your neck forward too much, you won’t be able to make a full rotation, and you might also risk an injury.

2. Not lowering into a squat

While performing deadlifts with a kettlebell, make sure to lower into a full squat. Otherwise, you won’t be able to perform the deadlift successfully. 

3. Ignoring the core

Tighten your core while performing exercises like kettle upright row. Do not relax the core too much while in an upright position. 

4. Arching your back

Maintaining an erect, neutral spine is very important while working out with kettlebells. Do not arch your back while performing kettlebell swings or any other kettlebell exercise. This way, your kettlebell will not end up touching the floor before you have completed any move that requires you to dip or lower your body. Lack of proper posture, form, and movement while performing kettlebell exercises is known to have an adverse effect on the hips and the back

5. Not using the right kettlebell weight

If you are not using the kettlebell weight that is right for you, then your workout will not be as effective as it could be. Use a lightweight if you are a beginner and gradually increase the weight as you get used to the kettlebell exercises.

Conclusion 

A kettlebell is an excellent piece of equipment for doing a variety of upper and lower back exercises. Kettlebell training can strengthen your back and reduce back pain and back problems. The above-mentioned kettlebell exercises will also help you develop stronger shoulders and improve your posture. 

Since kettlebells are heavy and risky pieces of workout equipment, you must be extremely careful while working out with them. Make sure to warm up properly and start with a lower-weight kettlebell before progressing to a heavier one. 

Avoid the common kettlebell mistakes to stay safe and get the most out of your kettlebell workout. Get the help of a professional trainer to guide you through your kettlebell training and perfect your movements and breathwork under his or her guidance.

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