4 Kettlebell Row Variations for Back Strength

Kettlebells are an incredibly versatile bit of kit, and if I'm honest, the longer I've worked in sport, the less I've used them.

Forgetting about kettlebells was unintentional. An unplanned evolution of my coaching journey. Yes I prescribed the odd few sets of swings and goblet squats into client's warm ups, but that was about it.

As a result of the UK lockdown back in March, however, I developed a new love for them. With gyms forced to close, kettlebells became the obvious portable and convenient way to continue weight training.

Since then, I've been using them more and more with those I coach both online and in-person. I have got tonnes of variations I'd like to share with you.

Today, we look at 4 row variations that will significantly help build back strength and better scapula mechanics

Not only do these exercises challenge the posterior chain isometrically similar to barbell rows, they help improve scapula mechanics due to the 'dead-stop' action when the weight touches the ground. This brings opportunity to really focus on protracting / opening the shoulder blades around the rib cage prior to then initiating each row with a retraction / squeezing action. This, in the long run will reduce injury risk and develop overall health of shoulder girdle.

Key: As you set up, ensure you push your hips back in order to experience a stretch in the hamstrings. Loading the hamstrings will reduce potential risk of straining your lower back. Doing so also builds good movement / hip hinge mechanics.

Dual Kettlebell Bent Over Row

This is a great alternative to the regular bent over row. Great for overcoming inertia as you brace hard in order to pull the dead-weights from the ground under control. One you can load with a significant amount of weight should you be fortunate enough to have access to heavy kettlebells.

Kettlebell Gorilla Row

This one not only builds back strength, but also challenges your trunk stability as you brace in order to avoid rotation as you row one kettlebell at a time.

Single Arm Kettlebell Bent Over Row

You could perhaps view this one as a progression from the Gorilla row as it challenges anti-rotation even more, however, you may not be able to lift as heavy. This one requires even more concentration and control of your trunk. You don't want your hips and shoulders to be rotating all over the place, so take your time.

Single Arm Supported Kettlebell Row

This variation is great for different reasons. The added support from resting your elbow on your thigh means you can focus less on technique, lift heavier and aggressively. Don't worry about resisting rotation here, just pull hard. Because of the dead-stop nature of the kettlebell resting on the ground each rep, you can still get the benefits of developing good scapular protraction - retraction despite the heavier loads.


All four of these movements are examples of drills used in both my Complete S&C and Transformation online programmes. Hit the link below to learn more about what it is I can offer you from just £9.99 per month!

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