As we discussed in the previous article, the kettlebell deadlift is a foundational exercise in any kettlebell training program. It provides the key practice of getting the kettlebell off the ground and handling it safely and efficiently. But what if you’ve already mastered some heavy kettlebell deadlifts and want to take it to the next level? We’ve got you covered! Today, we’re going to take a look at 5 advanced kettlebell deadlift variations, and break them down so you know exactly how to perform them. These exercises will challenge your strength and coordination in new ways. They’ll emphasize different muscle groups and bring you some new kettlebell gains. This will be EXACTLY what you need to get to the next level of your kettlebell training!
Traditional Kettlebell Deadlift Technique
- Before we dive into these advanced variations, let’s quickly review the traditional kettlebell deadlift technique:
- Begin with your feet hip-width apart and place a kettlebell on the ground between your feet.
- Hinge at your hips and slightly bend your knees to reach down and grasp the kettlebell handle with both hands.
- Engage your lats, keeping your back flat, chest up, and core braced.
- Drive through your heels, straighten your hips and knees, and stand up with the kettlebell.
- Reverse the motion by bending your hips first and then your knees to lower the kettlebell back to the ground.
Feeling good? Great! Let’s jump right into our 5 advanced kettlebell deadlift variations!
Single-Leg Kettlebell Deadlift
The single-leg kettlebell deadlift is an excellent progression from the traditional deadlift. It emphasizes balance and works each leg independently. It also provides a great active stretch for your hamstrings, further building mobility in your hamstrings and hips.
- Start with a kettlebell on the ground in front of you.
- Stand on one leg while maintaining a slight bend (about 20 degrees) in the knee of your supporting leg.
- Hinge at the hips to reach down and grab the kettlebell with one hand (the one on the same side as your working leg) while extending your free leg straight behind you.
- Maintain a neutral spine and engage your core as you stand up, using your hip hinge to lift the kettlebell.
- Lower the kettlebell back to the ground with control and repeat on the same leg for the desired number of repetitions before switching to the other leg.
Sumo Kettlebell Deadlift
The sumo kettlebell deadlift places more emphasis on the inner thighs (your hip adductors) and keeps you moving in a more upright position. This is great for building active flexibility, emphasizing hip flexor and extensor strength in an extended position.
- Position your feet wider than shoulder-width apart with your toes pointed slightly outward. (This will help you get into the proper position)
- Place the kettlebell between your feet.
- Hinge at the hips slightly and bend your knees to reach down and grab the kettlebell with both hands. (Imagine there is a wall in front of your face and you want to go straight down without touching the wall. This will keep your body more upright.)
- Keep your chest up, back flat, and core engaged as you stand up by extending your hips and knees.
- Lower the kettlebell back to the ground, maintaining the wide stance and repeating for reps.
Kettlebell Suitcase Deadlift
I love, love, love THIS exercise. The kettlebell suitcase deadlift focuses on unilateral strength and stability, as you lift a kettlebell with one hand while balancing your body. Build some anti-rotational core strength and stability. This exercise is particularly great for going heavy (within your safe capabilities of course!), while getting in some stability work.
- Place a kettlebell on the ground beside your foot.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Hinge at the hips and bend your knees slightly to grab the kettlebell with one hand (You can keep the other arm extended when you are first starting out, but work on getting it to your side so you can keep the weight off-center).
- Engage your core and maintain a neutral spine as you stand up, extending your hips and knees.
- Lower the kettlebell back to the ground with control and repeat for the desired number of reps on one side before switching to the other.
Double Kettlebell Deadlift
It’s just the kettlebell deadlift, but heavier! This movement follows the traditional method of progressive overload to further your gains, by simply adding more weight to build strength. However, the double kettlebell deadlift differs a bit in the distribution of weight, so your center of gravity more closely mimics a trap bar deadlift than a conventional barbell deadlift. This makes the double kettlebell deadlift a generally safer exercise, as it decreases the torque to your lower back, relative to your glutes, quads, and hamstrings.
- Place two kettlebells on the ground in front of you, with your feet hip-width apart.
- Hinge at the hips and bend your knees slightly to grab the handles of both kettlebells with both hands.
- Keep your back flat, chest up, and core engaged as you stand up by extending your hips and knees.
- Lower the kettlebells back to the ground with control and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
- (Yeah, it’s just a deadlift with two bells. Do these if you want a simple exercise you can go heavy on!)
Kettlebell Romanian Deadlift (RDL)
The kettlebell Romanian deadlift is an excellent variation that targets the hamstrings and lower back while also improving hip mobility. Work through feeling the stretch as your hamstrings engage. In the long run, this will further strengthen and clean up your traditional deadlift form.
- Begin with a kettlebell on the ground in front of you.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and grab the kettlebell with both hands in an overhand grip.
- Hinge at the hips while keeping your knees very slightly bent, allowing the kettlebell to lower toward the ground. Your goal is to keep them as straight as possible without locking them out.
- Maintain a neutral spine, a flat back, and engage your core as you feel a stretch in your hamstrings.
- Return to the starting position by extending your hips and standing up straight. Repeat for reps, very lightly touching the kettlebell to the ground in between reps. Time under tension!
Open the Door to More Kettlebell Exercises
Mastering advanced kettlebell deadlift variations can significantly enhance your overall kettlebell training. These variations develop the foundational strength, stability, and mobility required for other advanced kettlebell movements, such as swings, cleans, snatches, and Turkish get-ups. As you progress through these deadlift variations, you’ll find that your kettlebell skills improve, allowing you to tackle more complex and dynamic exercises with greater confidence, knowing you’ve developed the foundational strength necessary to move through these advanced exercises safely.
Get These Advanced Moves Into Your Kettlebell Toolbox!
We hope you’re fired up to try out these advanced variations. As you get comfortable and confident in performing these movements, you’ll develop more strength and stability, and your body will be more than ready to incorporate other kettlebell exercises! As always, emphasize proper form and gradually increase the weight, reps, and difficulty level as you become more comfortable with each exercise. These variations not only build strength but also improve balance, stability, and overall athleticism. Whether you are an experienced kettlebell enthusiast or looking to add excitement to your workout routine, these advanced deadlift variations offer a valuable way towards great fitness results, while preparing you for a broader range of kettlebell exercises. Let us know if you have any questions, and explore our other posts to get more kettlebell knowledge! Till next time…