How to do a kettlebell deadlift the right way

If you are new to kettlebells, you might have some questions, including:

  • Where should you feel a kettlebell deadlift?
  • What’s the best way to do a kettlebell deadlift?
  • What weight should you choose when doing a kettlebell deadlift?
  • What should you do if you feel back pain during a kettlebell deadlift?
  • What should you for a kettlebell deadlift if you have tight hamstrings and can’t easily pick it up from the ground?

Keep reading for the answers or if you just want a video tutorial and hate reading, then scroll down the page for that. 😉

What is the purpose of the kettlebell deadlift?

Kettlebell deadlifts are a fucking great exercise, because they can do a lot of things!

Here’s the shortlist of why you might want to incorporate them into your workouts:

Kettlebell deadlifts are a hinge pattern that teaches you how to pick up heavy objects using your legs instead of your back.

This means that lifting things will be stronger AND you may reduce the odds of flaring your lower back should you need to lift something heavy, such as a couch. 😉

Kettlebell deadlifts strengthen your hamstrings, glutes, lower back, AND lats – aka they target the entire backside of your body!

This is great for improving muscle tone + muscle mass, getting stronger, and having more power when you run / walk / jump, reducing your risk of injury,

Kettlebell deadlifts prepare you for a number of exercises including pull-ups and kettlebell swings.

Yep! They’re a pulling exercise, so you’re not just using your legs. You are strengthening your upper body too, which can make the ever elusive pull-ups and swings feel much easier.

Kettlebell deadlifts improve your posture.

Want to stand up straighter without ever having to think about it?

Deadlifting helps strengthen the whole back of the body to balance out any time that we might spend at a computer AND when the muscles in the back of your body are strong, it’s easy to stand tall.

What muscles should you feel in a kettlebell deadlift?

The target muscle groups for the deadlift are your glutes and hamstrings.

However, an honorable mention might include your lats (aka your back muscles).

If you feel your lower back engage, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing it wrong. However, if you feel your lower back MORE than your glutes and hamstrings, it might mean that you are arching your back at the top of the deadlift, instead of standing “tall.”

If you are unsure if this is you, then you might want to video yourself to see what your standing posture looks like at the top or work with a strength coach or trainer to help you troubleshoot it.

What’s the right way to do a kettlebell deadlift?

While there is truly no single right way to do any exercise, there are some basic guidelines for good technique that can help you feel the target muscle groups of the deadlift. However, know that within these guidelines, you may need to adjust the width of your foot position, amount of turn out, and knee bend for the deadlift to feel good for you.

Additionally, if you have tight hamstrings or struggle to pick the kettlebell off of the ground, you may need to start with it on a yoga block.

Watch the video below for an overview of kettlebell deadlift technique with a tutorial on how to use a yoga block if you are in the tight hamstring / tight lower back club. 😉

Video tutorial of kettlebell deadlifts for beginners

How to pick the right weight for a kettlebell deadlift

Without knowing your personal history, it’s impossible for me to tell you exactly what weight you should use for a kettlebell deadlift.

However, here are some guidelines that you may find helpful.

  • Pick a weight that is heavy enough for you to feel the target muscle group after 3 repetitions, If you can easily do 10 repetitions of the exercise and / or still can’t feel much engagement in your glutes or hamstrings, then you may need a heavier weight
  • Most people, regardless of gender, can start with a minimum of 15 to 20 lbs. Remember that your glutes and hamstrings are BIG muscle groups that hold you up when you walk around in the world! However, if you feel unsure starting there, then master the technique with a lighter weight or a band before trying it with a heavier weight.
  • If you have multiple kettlebells available to you, then try it with a few different weights! Seriously, this is the best way to figure out what you need. Sometimes, it is as simple as picking something up and putting it down