Single-leg kettlebell deadlift instructions: How to master this back-focused exercise correctly?

Single-leg kettlebell deadlift is a challenging exercise. (Photo via Pexels/Ivan Samkov)
Single-leg kettlebell deadlift is a challenging exercise. (Photo via Pexels/Ivan Samkov)

The single-leg kettlebell deadlift is quite an advanced variation of the standard kettlebell deadlift. In this unilateral version, you need to plant one foot on the floor while keeping the other one raised back into the air. The movement may sound easy but is challenging and requires great balance.

The kettlebell one-legged deadlift is a famous exercise for lower-body training and muscle building. In addition to developing stronger muscles, this exercise improves your balance and grip strength while also burning up your core muscles.

Since it’s a unilateral exercise, it will help target each side equally while helping you identify muscular imbalances and boosting your overall athletic performance.


Major muscles targeted by the single-leg kettlebell deadlift

Single-leg kettlebell deadlift targets the posterior chain muscles. (Photo via Pexels/Taco Fleur)
Single-leg kettlebell deadlift targets the posterior chain muscles. (Photo via Pexels/Taco Fleur)

This unilateral variation of the kettlebell deadlift targets some of the major muscles of the lower and upper body while focusing on the posterior chain muscles as well.

Muscles targeted include:

  • lower back
  • upper back
  • glutes
  • hamstrings
  • arms
  • core.

What are the benefits of doing a single-leg kettlebell deadlift?

The single-leg kettlebell deadlift comes with a plethora of advantages and serves many purposes.

It targets the posterior chain muscles

Not only does this exercise works on your body balance but it strengthens your back and works pretty well on other posterior chain muscles as well. These include the hamstrings, glutes, and erector spine. All these muscles are linked to one another and help stabilize the back and extend the hips.

In fact, the single-leg version is a more ideal choice for strengthening the posterior muscles than a traditional deadlift.

It is a great choice for people with balance issues

For people with balance problems or issues with handling a barbell, this version can be really easy and rehabilitative at the same time. Switching from a barbell to a kettlebell helps you concentrate more and also allows you to use your free arm as a counterbalance since you only need to hold the kettlebell with one arm.

The single-leg kettlebell deadlift is great for people with balance issues. (Photo via Pexels/Ketut Subiyanto)
The single-leg kettlebell deadlift is great for people with balance issues. (Photo via Pexels/Ketut Subiyanto)

It targets one leg at a time

The kettlebell one-legged deadlift is an effective unilateral exercise, which means it works on one leg at a time and prevents muscle imbalance. Training one leg at a time helps with unilateral sports movements, too, including cycling, running, walking, and more.

Moreover, this exercise helps build strength and size in the back and glutes and enhances grip strength as well. You can either use the single-leg kettlebell deadlift as a strength training exercise to build some serious muscles across your back or as a movement to challenge your coordination and balance.


How to do the single-leg kettlebell deadlift?

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can perform this unilateral exercise correctly:

  • Start with a straight posture with your legs at a shoulder-width distance and your back stable. Hold a kettlebell in your left hand and allow it to hang in front of you.
  • Keeping your back straight and your right foot slightly off the floor, lean your upper body forward and lift your right leg at the back at the same time. Make sure your right leg is in a straight line with your body.
  • As you bring your torso and kettlebell forward, ensure that your right shoulder blade is pulled down your back, too.
  • Now return upright with your back straight while pressing on your left foot. This completes one rep.
  • Complete a few reps more and then switch sides.
Choose a lightweight initially. (Photo via Pexels/Geancarlo Peruzzolo)
Choose a lightweight initially. (Photo via Pexels/Geancarlo Peruzzolo)

If you want to make the exercise even more challenging, try the single-leg kettlebell Romanian deadlift. To do this variation, all you have to do is place the kettlebell on the floor and grab it from there.

Use an overhand grip to hold the kettlebell and make sure to keep your shoulders back so that your spine is straight. Now push your hips and slowly lower the kettlebell towards the floor while lifting your opposite leg straight at the back.

Mastering each movement involved in the single-leg kettlebell deadlift exercise is important for attaining its potential benefits. Therefore, it's crucial that you perform this exercise correctly by following its proper form and techniques, and most importantly by keeping your posture and balance upright.

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