How to do deadlifts at home with a kettlebell: get stronger with no barbell

No barbell? No problem. You'll only need a couple of dumbbells or kettlebells to work the same muscles as barbell deadlifts

Kettlebell deadlifts no barbell
(Image credit: Mirafit)

You don't necessarily need a barbell to do deadlifts. In fact, this home deadlift workout uses only a couple of kettlebells and work the same muscles that deadlifts do: pretty much all the muscles in your body.

A lot of people are probably wondering how to do deadlifts at home as gyms stay closed despite pubs being allowed to reopen soon. Even if you have the best home gym setup, it seldom contains a barbell, so you have to get creative to find a way to work the muscles as effectively as when you do barbell deadlifts. We have a deadlift workout that requires no barbell – you'll use the far more compact kettlebell instead.

Knowing how to deadlift correctly can mean a difference between packing on muscles quickly or getting injured by pulling your back, so if you haven't done it already, please check out our guide today.

The King of Lifts should be built into any good training program in some form if you are serious about getting stronger, adding some muscle on your posterior chain from hamstrings to traps, or looking to become more athletic for performance at the gym or in your sport.

Without access to a gym or limited equipment at home, you may be restricted on the load/intensity of the lift due to lack of access to a barbell or trap bar. Rather than seeing this as a negative, why not use this time to build a some solid foundations without over doing things with too much weight?

This 'deadlift at home' workout routine was put together by the guys over at Starks Fitness and all you need to follow is a pair of the best kettlebells – in fact you can do most of the moves here with just one kettlebell. You could also, at a push, use a pair of the best dumbbells although they are a bit trickier to grip .  

Where to buy weights online – including kettlebells

IMPORTANT: If you are new to exercising or have back pain issues, please consult a PT/physiotherapist or a medical professional before you attempt the below workout. If you are planning on building muscle mass, consider taking some protein supplementation such as protein powder or protein bars to aid muscle growth and recovery. FYI, Starks Fitness has its own protein powder range and it actually tastes good!

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(Image credit: Starks Fitness)
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(Image credit: Starks Fitness)

Single leg hip thruster

Set/rest: 4 x 45 seconds on, 15 seconds rest

Start with feet hip width apart, lying on your back with your right foot a few inches off the floor. Drive your left heel down into the ground, raising your hips up, ensuring you squeeze your glute and drawing your belly button in at the top. Lower your hips until just off the floor. Repeat.

(Image credit: Starks Fitness)

Single leg Romanian deadlift

Set/rest: 4 x 45 seconds on, 15 seconds rest

Start on one foot with 1 kettle bell in the opposite hand. Pull yourself into a hip hinge, keeping your spine neutral and hips level with the floor. When you reach a comfortable stretch, drive your foot down into the ground and squeeze your glute to pull you into extension. Pull back to a neutral position and then stand back to starting position. Repeat.

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(Image credit: Starks Fitness)

Split-stance single kettlebell Russian swing

Set/rest: 4 x 45 seconds on, 15 seconds rest

Stand with feet hip width apart, left foot in front of right so there will be a slight gap between left heel and right toe. Maintain a neutral or straight spine throughout this movement. Start by gently thrusting your hips and creating some momentum with the kettle bell (be sure to keep your thumb facing upwards).

Gradually increase the amount of hip flexion (bending over), as the kettlebell lowers towards your hip so you can increase the thrust power. A Russian swing means the load should be adequate to challenge your max range of around shoulder height. We are looking for an explosive hip thrust just as we would in a deadlift.


Complete all three exercises above on one side then go straight into the other side before taking 60-90 seconds rest.

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(Image credit: Starks Fitness)
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(Image credit: Starks Fitness)
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(Image credit: Starks Fitness)
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(Image credit: Starks Fitness)

Broad jump and stick

Set/rest: 3 x 4-6, rest 10-15 seconds between each jump

Start with feet roughly hip width apart and raise your arms in front of you ready to initiate an explosive jump. Drive your arms down and back whilst dropping into a quarter squat. As you hit the squat depth, drive your arms up and forwards whilst jumping as far forwards as you can without jumping too high.

You are aiming to land with both feet parallel and hip width apart, decelerating into a partial squat with sticky feet; so no stepping forwards. The initial hip thrust and leg drive into the floor will mimic a deadlift pattern when driving into the floor to raise the bar.

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(Image credit: Starks Fitness)
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(Image credit: Starks Fitness)

Death march with kettlebells

Set/rest: 3 x 2-4 minutes, rest 90 seconds

Start with 2 kettlebells, take a step forward planting the front foot and flexing forward at your hips, keeping the knee slightly flexed, lengthening your hamstring. Allow your arms to naturally flex forwards maintaining tension through your spine and keeping shoulders taught to maintain a neutral posture.

Your rear leg will have greater flexion at the knee and the load placed through the forefoot, maintaining the stability at the hips to stop any twisting. Bring yourself all the way upright before stepping through and repeating the process on the other side.

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