Move of the Week: Kettlebell Bent-over Row

With the warm, almost summer-like weather recently, it looks like spring has arrived! Well here’s Move of the Week as always.

THE MOVE: Kettlebell Bent-over Row

MOVEMENT PATTERN AND MUSCLES WORKED: Horizontal pull: upper and mid back, lats, and posterior chain.

WHY DO IT: If you don’t have much room or much equipment, the Kettlebell Bent-over Row is one of those things you can do for great benefit regardless. It resembles both the Barbell Row and the Trap-bar Pendlay Row, but it has some key advantages over them. You don’t need a barbell or a trap-bar to do today’s move. Furthermore, the higher degree of freedom the kettlebells offer here means that a greater range of motion is encouraged through the shoulders.

You still need to sit into a hinge and hold your neutral spine throughout the duration of the set, but this should be easier to do than in the Barbell Row. Sitting back in this position will activate your posterior chain.

With kettlebells, once this bent-over position is achieved, the focus should be on a full range of motion at the shoulders. The shoulder blades drive the movement here, and they should be fully protracted (towards the arm pits) at the bottom, and fully retracted (toward the spine) at the top.

You can still load these up, but with the free nature of the kettlebells, I also find these to be joint-friendly as well.

HOW TO DO IT: For this exercise, grab a pair of kettlebells, and take a neutral stance with your feet–stack your hip sockets over your knees, and your knees over your feet. Sit back into a hip hinge by pushing your butt back and keeping your shins as straight as possible. You should feel your hamstrings and glutes turn on, and your spine should be neutral. Your torso should be as horizontal as you can make it to ensure that you’re actually rowing correctly.

With your arms hanging at your sides, think about letting the kettlebells pull your shoulder blades down to the floor without moving your torso. This should result in a slight stretch in the back of your shoulders. Solidify your hinge position by bracing your abs. Perform the movement now by pulling your elbows into your back pocket. Think about squeezing your shoulder blades back towards your spine here. You should feel this activate your lats, or what’s simply known as the mid-back. Let the bells down again, and repeat this move for reps.

The degree of freedom offered by the kettlebells here encourages a full range of motion in a joint-friendly manner. Once you’re comfortable with the hinge and have the ROM down, you can definitely load this up if you have heavier bells at your disposal. I’d recommend this for 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps in the first half of a training session to work on your horizontal pulling pattern. Let us know what you think on Twitter or Instagram @halevylife !

by Jeremy Lau

Jeremy Lau

Jeremy Lau Halevy Life Staff CoachJeremy Lau is a Senior Staff Coach at Halevy Life.

Jeremy graduated cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a BSc. in Biomedical Engineering and received his Master’s in Exercise Physiology at Columbia University. In addition to his academic accolades, Jeremy is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).

Prior to joining the team at Halevy Life, Jeremy completed a coaching internship at Cressey Sports Performance, where he coached both amateur and professional athletes, among whom were many professional MLB baseball players.

As an athlete, Jeremy has played baseball competitively for most of his life.

New York, NY

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