Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredKettle Bells
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypeHinge (Bilateral)
  • Experience LevelBeginner
  • Secondary Muscles
    Abs, Adductors, Calves, Forearms, Glutes, Lats, Lower Back, Quads, Traps, Upper Back
Target Muscle Group


Hamstrings Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift (1 KB) Overview

The kettlebell sumo deadlift with one kettlebell is a variation of the sumo deadlift one can use to target the muscles of the posterior chain.

Using a kettlebell, as seen in the kettlebell sumo deadlift, is an excellent way to build the perquisite strength needed prior to progressing to its barbell counterpart.

Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift (1 KB) Instructions

  1. Position a kettlebell directly in between your feet and assume a moderately wide stance with your toes pointed slightly out.
  2. Push your hips back and hinge forward until your torso is nearly parallel with the floor.
  3. Reach down and grasp the kettlebell handle using a close, double overhand grip.
  4. Drop your hips below your shoulders and ensure there is no slack in your arms.
  5. Drive through the whole foot and focus on pushing the floor away by extending the knees and hips.
  6. Once you have locked out the hips, reverse the movement by pushing the hips back and hinging forward.
  7. Return the kettlebell to the floor, reset, and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift (1 KB) Tips

  1. Stance width varies greatly depending upon the individual. Rather than spend too much time trying to calculate your ideal stance width, simply experiment and see what feels best on your hips in the long run while simultaneously allowing you to generate the most power. For some folks this will be a semi medium width (hybrid) position whereas for others their toes will almost be touching the plates.
  2. The deadlift is a hinge, not a squat. If you set the hips too low you will put yourself in a disadvantageous position biomechanically.
  3. The hips should be lower than the shoulders and you should be able to see the logo on the lifters shirt before they pull (i.e. “chest up”). The chest up cue is usually accomplished when the lats become locked in though so this cue is typically not needed if the lifter understands how to initiate the lats.
  4. Ideally the knees should be tracking out over the foot. If you find that you have trouble keeping this neutral knee position, focus on spreading the floor by trying to push your feet apart as you push into the floor. In other words, imagine there is a crack in the floor and you’re trying to spread it open by pushing your heels away from each other. This will help to activate your glutes more during the movement and stabilize the knee joint.
  5. You should keep the handle of the kettlebell directly over the midfoot at the start of every repetition.
  6. Neck position is highly individual - Some prefer a neutral neck position (i.e. keeping the chin tucked throughout the lift) while others do well with looking slightly up. Here’s some factors to consider:
    • If you’re someone who is more globally extended (i.e. athletic background), then you will likely be able to keep a neutral position more effectively by packing the chin.
    • On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you tend to be more flexion dominant (especially in your thoracic spine - upper back) then it would behoove you to look up slightly as this will drive more extension.
    • Experiment with each and see which one works best for your individual anatomy and biomechanics.
  7. Ideally you should cue and emphasize a vertical shin but this will depend entirely on a lifter’s spine and limb length.
  8. Toe angle is highly individual - this will be dependent upon your hip anatomy. Experiment (toes slightly out or neutral) to see what feels best for you.
  9. Do NOT retract your shoulder blades. This is mechanically inefficient and a self limiting cue as it shortens the length of the arms thus requiring a larger range of motion.
  10. Make sure you wrap your thumb around the handle and don’t utilize a false grip.
  11. Don’t focus on keeping the weight primarily on your heels, you won’t be able to effectively recruit your quads at the beginning of the lift and thus you’ll be slow off the flow. So, to combat this, you should focus on driving through the whole foot - you want 3 points of contact: big toe, little toe, and heel.