Emma OBayuvana doing a kettlebell deadlift

Move of the week: try functional strength training with kettlebell deadlifts

Posted by for Workouts

Welcome to our weekly Move of the Week series. Every Monday, we’ll be sharing with you one of our favourite exercises – how to do them, what muscles they work and why they should be a regular part of your workout regime. This week: kettlebell deadlifts. 

Deadlifts can be an intimidating move if you’re new to strength training. Before you jump straight to the barbell full of anxieties, start your deadlifting journey with a kettlebell. Not only will it allow you to easier chose a weight that works for you, a kettlebell is also better for building functional strength; its shape and size is more applicable to lifting in real life. 

Don’t look away, advance lifters. Kettlebells are also still great for you – they can help you with form and grip strength in between your barbell sessions. 

What is a kettlebell deadlift?

A deadlift involves lifting a weight off the floor, extending through the knees and hips until you’re fully standing with a weight. A kettlebell deadlift is the same, so you’ll be lifting the kettlebell from the ground to around hip height. 

The exercise is great because:

It builds muscle: it targets the muscles in your posterior chain, including your glutes, lower back and hamstrings.

It’s beginner-friendly: it’s a great stepping stone to barbell deadlifts, helping you stay injury-free while building confidence. 

It’s challenging for everyone: there are loads of weight options and variations to suit any level.

It’s functional: kettlebells and deadlifts are both great for building strength that transfers into real life. 

What muscles do kettlebell deadlifts work?

A kettlebell deadlift primarily targets the posterior chain, including:

  • Glutes 
  • Hamstrings
  • Calves
  • Lower body 
  • Transverse abdominals
  • Rear delts 

How to do a kettlebell deadlift

  1. Place the kettlebell on the floor and stand just behind it with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Hinge at the hips and slightly bend your knees so your hands can hang straight down to grip the handle.
  3. Engage your core and roll your shoulders back and down.
  4. Press through your heels to stand, straightening your legs and pushing your hips forwards to a neutral position. 
  5. Hinge at the hips and bend the knees to lower the weight back down. 

Images: Stylist

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Chloe Gray

Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).

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