Build up a stronger back with this 4-week kettlebell workout
A strong does way more than just finish out a superheroic body. Thick, powerful back muscles help you stand taller, and well-developed rhomboids (the muscles between your shoulder blades) injury-proof your shoulders and make you a beast at everything from mowing the lawn to dominating the family-reunion tug-of-war.
This month, you’re going to build that ultrastrong back, thanks to Eric Leija (a.k.a. Primal Swoledier), kettlebell coach and creator of the new Men’s Health video program Kettlehell. Leija specializes in kettlebells, but you can easily use dumbbells for this workout instead. Either way, you’ll pack on the strength and muscle you need to improve your posture and minimize shoulder and back issues.
Do this workout 3 times a week, using either dumbbells or kettlebells. Rest 1 day between back sessions. On days you don’t do it, aim to do 3 sets of 20 bodyweight squats, 3 sets of 15 pushups, and 3 30-second planks.
The Kettlebell Back Blaster Workout
Do each of the following exercises in order. Do paired exercises as a superset: Do a set of the “a” exercise, then immediately do a set of the “b” exercise, then rest for 30 seconds.
1. Child’s Pose with Thoracic Rotation
Kneel and sit on your shins, toes touching and knees spread wide. Bend forward, reaching your hands out as far as possible; keep pushing your butt back as you do this. This is the start. Keeping your right hand on the floor, thread your left arm under your right arm. Pause here, then pull your left arm out and reach toward the ceiling. That’s 1 rep; do 10 per side.
2A. Kettlebell Hollow-Body Pullover
Lie on your back and hold a kettlebell overhead. Press your lower back into the floor and lift your legs a few inches; lift your shoulder blades and arms an inch as well. This is the start. Keeping your core tight, pull the kettlebell up so that it’s above your chest. Pause, then return to the start. That’s 1 rep; do 10.
Eb says: Can’t keep your lower back glued to the floor? Raise your legs a little higher.
2B. Kettlebell Clean
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Hinge forward and grip the kettlebell with your right hand. Explosively stand up, pulling it to your chest and keeping it close to your body. Once it’s higher than shoulder height, “catch” it at your shoulder and stand up straight. Lower. That’s 1 rep; do 10 per side.
Eb says: Keep your arm relaxed throughout the lift. Your hips create the explosion, not your arms.
3A. Kettlebell Plank Row
Set up in plank position, with your left hand on a bench in front of you. Hold a lightweight kettlebell in your right hand, arm hanging naturally. This is the start. Tighten your core and glutes, and row the weight to your right rib cage; pause for a moment, then return to the start. That’s 1 rep; do 10 per side.
3B. Gorilla Row
Stand over 2 kettlebells, feet wider than shoulder-width apart, knees bent. Hinge forward so your torso is nearly parallel to the floor. Grasp the weights. Keeping your shoulders and hips square to the floor, row the right weight until your upper arm is nearly parallel to your torso. Return to the start. Repeat on the other side. That’s 1 rep; do 8.
Eb says: Lift the kettlebell only as high as you can while still maintaining clean posture.
4. Incline-Bench Row
Set an incline bench to a 45-degree angle. Position yourself with your chest and abs on the bench, legs straight. Hold 2 kettlebells, arms hanging naturally. This is the start. Keeping your torso stuck to the bench, pull the weights upward until your upper arms are parallel to your torso. Pause, then return to the start. That’s 1 rep; do 3 sets of 10.
Back Flow Finisher
Work through this flow. Do 1 rep of each exercise, chaining the moves together. Repeat 3 to 5 alternating reps per arm. Do 3 sets.
1. Single-Arm Deadlift
Stand over a kettlebell in an athletic stance. Hinge at your hips, push your butt back, and grip the kettlebell with your right hand. Working to keep your hips and shoulders square, stand up, squeezing your glutes.
2. Single-Arm Gorilla Row
Hinge forward and push your butt back to return the kettlebell to the floor. Tighten your core. Pull the kettlebell upward with your right arm, until your upper arm is nearly parallel to your torso.
3. Single-Arm Snatch
Return the bell to the floor. Explosively stand, pulling the bell upward and keeping it close to your torso. As the bell rises, punch it into an overhead position. Lower it to your shoulder, then to the floor.
Eb says: Go slowly your first time through, then gradually speed up.
[vis Men's Health US]