The 6 Ultimate Kettlebell Pull Exercises With Sample Kettlebell Workouts

Kettlebell pull exercises can be a great addition to any training program, they are excellent at developing both back strength and core stability.

5 min read
Sean's profile
Written by
Sean Klein
Published on
17/03/22
Last updated
20/06/22
In This Resource
  • Sample Kettlebell Push Pull Superset
  • How To Use The Kettlebell Pull Exercises
  • 1. Full Body Resistance VS Upper Lower Split
  • 2. Functional Training VS Strength and Hypertrophy Adaptation
  • Benefits Of Horizontal Pulling With Kettlebells
  • 1. Improve Your Pull Ups
  • 2. Exercise Your Core and Abdominals
  • 3. Add Variety
  • Why Athletes and Crossfitters Should Do Kettlebell Pull Exercises
  • Why Bodybuilders Shouldn’t Do Kettlebell Exercises in Their Pulling Workouts
  • How to Train Your Upper Body With a Kettlebell
  • Sample Kettlebell Upper Body Tri-set
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • What Do Kettlebell Pulls Work?
  • Is A Kettlebell Swing A Pull Or A Push?
  • More Pull Exercises

These variations will be perfect for you to add some variety to your home / in the gym training. Let’s have a look at the 6 kettlebell pull exercises you can use.

Sample Kettlebell Push Pull Superset

Complete 3 rounds

1. Alternating KB Floor Press

Complete 12 repetitions

2. Double KB Gorilla Row

Complete 12 repetitions

How To Use The Kettlebell Pull Exercises

1. Full Body Resistance VS Upper Lower Split

These exercises can be used in either a full body resistance training plan or an upper / lower split training plan. Either way they will be very effective at developing the back in terms of both strength and muscular growth. Pick two of the exercises below and incorporate them into your weekly training for between 3-5 sets each.

2. Functional Training VS Strength and Hypertrophy Adaptation

For strength adaptations use a heavier load with lower reps (4-8) and for muscular growth use a high rep range of 10-15 (reach near failure each set). An issue with a lot of these kettlebell pull variations is they require a lot of core stability, which makes them great for functional training, but the core will likely be the limiting factor, meaning a barbell bent over row would be much more effective for maximal strength / hypertrophy gains. This doesn’t mean they are not effective variations its just something to take into consideration if you do have a barbell you could use that exercise as your primary pulling exercise.

Benefits Of Horizontal Pulling With Kettlebells

1. Improve Your Pull Ups

Horizontal pulling exercises with kettlebells are a great way to prepare yourself to lift your body weight in the pull up movement. The pull up requires a lot of bodyweight strength and finding regressions of the pull up can be frustrating. Adding kettlebell pull exercises can be a great way to help you on your road to your first pull up.

2. Exercise Your Core and Abdominals

As a lot of the exercises listed above require a lot of core stabilisation while performing them, especially the unilateral exercises, you will be progressing the core musculature in conjunction with the upper-back muscles.

3. Add Variety

Most horizontal pulling is either done with a barbell or dumbbell so adding a kettlebell variation into the mix can just add variety into your workout routine.

Why Athletes and Crossfitters Should Do Kettlebell Pull Exercises

Athletes and Crossfitters need to be very strong, but they also need to be strong and hold difficult positions under fatigue. This makes kettlebell pull exercises very applicable to their training as they often require difficult positions to be held for a long duration of time while executing a strength movement with a large amount of weight. Take the alternating gorilla row, this requires a difficult position to be maintained throughout the entire movement. This style of challenge is much more applicable to Crossfit or game sports than it is to bodybuilding.

Why Bodybuilders Shouldn’t Do Kettlebell Exercises in Their Pulling Workouts

Bodybuilders should avoid adding the majority of the exercises into their training routine. This is because often times with these pull variations the limiting factor is the core musculature, bodybuilders who need to perform a high number of repetitions to create as much fatigue as possible do not want to be limited by the core musculature.

How to Train Your Upper Body With a Kettlebell

Using supersets can be a great way to train your upper body with kettlebells like the one sampled above. Also using tri-sets can be a really fun and time efficient way to work through a kettlebell upper body workout as you can get through a large variety of movement patterns within a short period of time. Have a look at this sample upper-body tri-set with a kettlebell you could add to your next upper-body workout.

Sample Kettlebell Upper Body Tri-set

Complete 4 rounds

1. Alternating Gorilla Row

Complete 12 repetitions

2. Alternating KB Floor Seated Press

Complete 10 repetitions

3. KB 1-Arm Low Row

Complete 8 repetitions

Frequently Asked Questions

What Do Kettlebell Pulls Work?

Kettlebell pulls work the muscles of the upper back including, latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, posterior deltoids and trapezius. They also work the lower back muscles that stabilise the spine.

Is A Kettlebell Swing A Pull Or A Push?

It’s neither, it’s a dynamic full body movement that requires a variety of muscles groups but if it had to be put into a movement category the closest would probably be the hinge movement patterns.

More Pull Exercises

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