Work Your Back, Shoulders, and More With the Kettlebell Row
Now that you’ve got your own shiny, new kettlebell, what (besides the kettlebell swing) are you supposed to do with it? Try the kettlebell row! The kettlebell row is a challenging upper-body exercise that will fire up your core and test your balance as it works your back. The kettlebell row looks like a simple movement, but it requires practice to master, so use a lighter weight until you learn the proper form.
How to Do Kettlebell Rows Properly
- Assume a staggered stance with your left leg forward, your right leg back, and a kettlebell in your right hand.
- Keeping your back flat and core engaged, bend your knees and hinge forward 45 degrees at your waist, resting your right forearm on your right thigh. Allow the kettlebell in your left hand to hang at arm’s length toward the floor, palm facing inward. This is the starting position.
- Keeping your shoulders square and elbow close to your body, pull the kettlebell to your ribs.
- Lower the kettlebell back to the starting position and repeat.
- Do equal reps on both sides.
Make it easier: Use a lighter weight.
Make it harder: Use a heavier weight, and/or pause at the top of the move before lowering the weight back to the starting position.
Mistakes to Avoid
Dr. Jordan Duncan, DC, owner of Silverdale Sport & Spine in Silverdale, Washington, cautions against a few common mistakes people make when learning how to do kettlebell rows.
As you pull the kettlebell toward your chest, avoid rotating your body at the waist. “The kettlebell row should target the upper extremity and shouldn’t incorporate too much motion of the trunk,” Duncan says. “Also, avoid shrugging your shoulders toward your ears.” This kind of movement compensation will shift the emphasis away from the back muscles and onto the tops of the shoulders, which are not the intended target of the kettlebell row.
What Muscles Do Kettlebell Rows Work?
While it will challenge your overall balance and coordination, the kettlebell row is primarily an upper-body strength move that targets the back and shoulders. According to Duncan, the muscles worked during the single-arm kettlebell row include:
- Latissimus dorsi
- Posterior deltoid
- Middle/lower trapezius muscles