There are two major factions in the kettlebell world: sport-type and hardstyle. Hardstyle is the type of kettlebell exercise that more people are familiar with. We have many posts on sport-type workouts, but we want to make sure we also provide adequate training on our foundational training style. We welcome Doug Fioranelli, the owner of Rising Above Performance Training, to give us insight on hardstyle training. Doug will take us through an example of progression and variations in deadlifts. Watch Doug explain changes and sequences in the video below.
Doug Fioranelli Writes
When you decide to start training with kettlebells, you’ll eventually need to choose what method of exercises you want to pursue. Sport-type and hardstyle training types are both great but have different goals. You’ve likely seen examples of sport-type on social media, where athletes wearing pained expressions lug colored kettlebells around over their heads for ten minutes. Hardstyle, or foundation kettlebell training, is currently the more commonly practiced of the two.
Hardstyle involves controlling a handled iron ball through different movement sequences, and it might seem a bit odd or intimidating to newcomers. Hardstyle kettlebell training is effective, efficient, and great for newcomers and athletes. It’s also an excellent method for athletic trainers and coaches who are looking for new styles to teach.
I’ll be deconstructing basic kettlebell movements for Kettlebell Kings in this series. Video and written formats are included for your preferred learning style. In the video, I am training with a Kettlebell Kings Powder Coated Kettlebell. We want you to approach kettlebell training confidently and with the proper weights, as your training toolbox is what’s going to help you achieve results. It’s vital that you understand the purpose of each movement and how choosing it can help you reach your goals.
Hardstyle Kettlebell Deadlift
I love the kettlebell deadlift. Getting in position is much more straightforward than with a barbell deadlift. The kettlebell rests between your legs, while a barbell must stay in front of you. This makes the correct alignment of the back challenging, even for people who have been practicing for some time.
The kettlebell deadlift is excellent at teaching proper hip form and hinging. Hinging increases activation of the hamstring and gluteal muscle fibers support correct pelvic drive. Hip, or pelvis, the drive is an initial burst of movement that creates momentum in the kettlebell that many exercises utilize.
Proper set-up and patterning
Stand directly over the kettlebell. Your stance should be a bit wider than your shoulders.
Grasp the kettlebell by the handle and tuck your elbows into your sides. Straighten your back and keep your chest elevated.
Pull your shoulder blades toward each other and keep an arch in your lower back.
Look straight ahead and retract your chin. Imagine a clock face. Your head should be at ten o’clock, and your pelvic region should be at four o’clock.
Dig your toes into the floor and tighten your abdominal and gluteal muscles.
Rise into a standing position by pushing against the floor. Your hips will extend completely.
This movement will help you to perfect the hardstyle Deadlift. By elevating the kettlebell, proper back alignment is more natural to achieve and maintain. This movement is also great for weighted plates or larger competition kettlebells.
The preparation and movements for all deadlifts are identical. When you’ve mastered these, feel free to experiment with variations.
Alternating Single Arm Deadlift
This is a wonderful exercise that improves grip strength. It also strengthens your core by engaging your lateral abdominal muscles to prevent rotation. Set up is similar to a hardstyle deadlift, but only use one hand to grab the handle. Keep your shoulders even and facing forward throughout the movement. Avoid shifting your weight from side to side. Decide if it’s more comfortable for you to transfer the kettlebell from one hand to the other at the top of the movement, or at the bottom.
Double Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift
Deadlifts with two kettlebells further increase grip and abdominal strength. Set up with two kettlebells between your legs. Choose one or both options to work for different muscle groups.
Option 1: Widen your stance and keep both palms facing backward
Option 2: Use a narrower stance with both thumbs and kettlebell handles facing forward
Double Suitcase Deadlift
This movement will be familiar to those of you who remember lugging suitcases across the airport. It’s also an excellent prep for Farmer’s Walk Training. You should feel your core work during this exercise. Your stance will be narrower than in a foundation deadlift. Set up using two kettlebells. Place one on either side of your feet. The handles of the kettlebells should face forwards. Use the appropriate lifting technique and get to work.
That’s all there is to doing hardstyle deadlifts with kettlebells. Please watch the video for a recap of this information and more!
If this is your first time reading one of our posts, we create kettlebell workouts in collaboration with kettlebell lifting champions and experts, which are designed to give you maximal results in a minimal amount of time.
Doug Fioranelli is the owner of Rising Above Performance Training® where he uses personal, progressive programming to increase his athletes’ performance and reduce their risk of injury. Since 2001, he has assisted many people with their strength training, conditioning and athletic rehabilitation including; adult clients, police, fire, military professionals, and athletes from middle school to the Professional level.
About Kettlebell Kings
Kettlebell Kings is a premium-quality kettlebell and kettlebell content provider, based in Austin, Texas. You can view our equipment, kettlebell how-to’s, and get expert advice at https://www.kettlebellkings.com