How Kettlebell Rows Work To Optimize Pulling Movements

kettlebell rows

Give your lats a great workout with kettlebell rows.

Working our back muscles can be hard, but absolutely possible with great exercises like kettlebell rows. While it can be easy to want to perform a haphazard back day routine, the benefits to having a strong back can prove to be unmatched. Working for better posture, increasing strength and size, and optimizing any pulling movements, a strong back is essential for those functional and sport specific movements. Plus, you will only add to your physique as your lats will certainly pop.

Kettlebells are effective pieces of workout equipment and can provide for compound movements to work many muscles, as well as offer the ability to perform isolation exercises as you seek to build up one specific muscle. Convenient and versatile, kettlebells are definitely something to have in your home gym or gym routine and kettlebell rows are the perfect exercise to see gains.

Let’s take a look at kettlebell rows and see what makes this workout so great for increasing strength and size while also optimizing those pulling movements. From what it is, to muscles worked, the many benefits of doing it, and how to perform it, you will have a solid foundation for seeing gains and taking advantage of kettlebell rows.

kettlebell rows

What Are Kettlebell Rows?

Kettlebell rows are a compound pulling movement designed to increase strength in your back while also building muscle in other areas as well. A test of balance, coordination, strength, and pulling ability, the benefits of what this exercise can do are unmatched. Perfect for athletes who require pulling movements for their sport, or for those who want to better their functional pulling strength, this exercise is not hard to perform once you nail down the proper form (1).

Check out our list of the Best Kettlebells for some amazing lifting products!

Muscles Worked

Kettlebell rows work many muscles as this exercise will prove to be a great workout. This exercise focuses mainly on your lats, but what you will find is that your delts, traps, and biceps all play a major role in the actual engagement of the entire movement, thus assisting with either stabilizing or pulling. For balance and stabilization of your entire body, your hips, core, glutes, and hamstrings will work to keep you grounded so you can efficiently complete the exercise without a risk of injury or an imbalance.

kettlebell rows

Benefits Of Kettlebell Rows

The benefits of kettlebell rows are hard to ignore and can greatly affect all your gains. For those looking to give themselves the best chance at success, definitely consider what this exercise can do.

Benefits of kettlebell rows include:

  • Increase lat strength: As an effective pulling movement, this will work to build strength and size in your lats so you see only the best gains (2).
  • Full body exercise: This exercise is one of those compound exercises that will work many muscle groups and can be a full body strengthener.
  • Core and stability: By relying on your core to stay stable, this will work to build better balance and stability as you enhance mind-muscle connection and overall technique (3).
  • Reduce injury: With your muscles all working together, this exercise can build better connection throughout your body allowing it to work in unison and reduce the overall risk of injury.
  • Just a kettlebell: The nice part about this exercise is that you only need a kettlebell for equipment, thus allowing this to be a fairly versatile exercise.
  • Many variations: Other alternative exercises work to mimic what kettlebell rows can do so you have the opportunity to shake things up and add variety to your workouts.

How To Perform It

Here are the steps for performing kettlebell rows:

  1. Choose your desired kettlebell and place it on the floor in front of you.
  2. Step one leg back and bend over at your hips so your torso is parallel to the ground. From here, reach down and grab the kettlebell with the hand of the leg that is stepped backwards. A neutral grip is fine.
  3. To start the movement, engage you core and lift through your elbow in a pulling motion until the kettlebell reaches your body.
  4. Once at the top, give a good squeeze before lowering back to the ground in a controlled motion.
  5. Repeat for your desired number of reps and sets.

Kettlebell Row Variations

This exercise is great for it has many variations that can greatly affect your workouts and gains for the better. With so many alternative exercises to try, what you really get with this is the ability to try your hand at different exercises while also working to confuse your muscles so they have no choice but to grow.

Alternative exercises for kettlebell rows include:

  • Staggered Stance Row
  • Lateral Row
  • Clean Row
  • Bent Over Row
  • Half-Kneeling Row
  • Kettlebell Plank Row On Bench
  • Kettlebell Renegade Row

Best Supplements To Take With Kettlebell Rows

With an exercise like kettlebell rows, having the right supplements can work to give your body those nutrients it needs to see gains. Taking a pre-workout supplement will give you energy and allow for better blood flow, allowing you to better perform the exercise.

For those post-workout gains, a protein powder will prove to be imperative as this will pump you with that vital protein for increased muscle growth, enhanced recovery, and overall better weight loss or management (4). Also, taking something like creatine or a mass gainer can really give you a boost to increased strength, size, and overall mass.

Wrap Up

Kettlebell rows have the ability to give us great gains when it comes to strength, size, power, pulling, and stabilization. A well-rounded exercise working many muscles, this is what you need to thrive both with sport specific movements and those more functional ones. Give kettlebell rows a try and work to optimize those pulling motions for whatever your sport specific or functional needs may be.

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*Images courtesy of Envato


  1. Manocchia, P.; et al. (2013). “Transference of Kettlebell Training to Strength, Power, and Endurance”. (source)
  2. Beardsley, C.; et al. (2014). “The Role of Kettlebells in Strength and Conditioning”. (source)
  3. Meigh, N.; et al. (2019). “Kettlebell training in clinical practice: a scoping review”. (source)
  4. Pasiakos, S.; et al. (2015). “The effects of protein supplements on muscle mass, strength, and aerobic and anaerobic power in healthy adults: a systematic review”. (source)
Austin Letorney
Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.