Renegade Row With Kettlebells

Throughout previous articles we discussed a total body movement that increases back and arm strength, core stability, and increases metabolic demands for any lifter performing them. The renegade row can be done in a variety of variations (tall plank, knees down, dumbbells, kettlebells, etc.) In this article, we will discuss one of the most challenging renegade row variations, which entails a lifter to use a pair of kettlebells (instead of dumbbells), which is thoroughly discussed below complete with exercise demo, muscles, worked, and exercise benefits.

Muscles Used

The renegade row targets nearly every muscle in the body, however places a higher emphasis on the back, arms and core. While using kettlebells, the increased stability and balance needed results in greater demands on the body. Below is a complete listing of the muscles used during the renegade row with kettlebells.

  • Lats (back)
  • Wrists
  • Biceps
  • Rhomboids
  • Abdominals
  • Obliques
  • Glutes
  • Erectors

Renegade Row with Kettlebells (Exercise Demo)

Below is an exercise demo on how to perform the renegade row with kettlebells, which is highly similar to the dumbbell kettlebell row. The use of the kettlebell in the renegade row will increase the complexity and difficulty of the movement.

Benefits of Using Kettlebells

Below is a listing of various benefits that one can expect to get from performing the renegade row, especially with the kettlebells.

Increased Wrist and Shoulder Stability

If you have ever tried to perform the renegade row on kettlebells, you will surely agree with this one. The imbalanced weight distribution of the kettlebell, mixed with the increased height of the handle and body from the floor can lead to greater instability at the weakest points in the movement. Those points are typically the wrists, elbows, and shoulders, as the lifter is forced to slow the movement down in order to not fall or have the wrist buckle under poor stability or lack of balance. When looking to force lifters to take their time and emphasize correct technique and stability, I find this kettlebell variation to be better than dumbbells as it is a “sink or swim” movement…either the lifter takes their time and performs it properly, or they fail.

Greater Demand of Balance and Control

As stated above, the necessity of the lifter to stabilize the body and establish complete control of the upper body, wrist, core, and lower body throughout the entire range of motion (both lifting the weight and returning it to the ground) can lead to significant improvements in technique and coordination of this complex total body movement.

Increased Core Strength

The benefit of using kettlebells for the renegade row is that it increases a lifter’s need for control, stability, and focus to perform the row without having the kettlebell topple over. By increasing the complexity, the lifter must take a longer time to perform the movement, with more focused contractions and emphasis on core stability and strength. In addition, after the row is performed, the lifter must remain braced and tight in the core and lower back as the weight is being returned to the floor as to not topple the base hand/kettlebell over.

Progression to Increase Difficulty

When looking to increase the demands of a particular movement on a lifter we increase the load, repetitions, tempo, speed, and more. The renegade row with the kettlebell in turn increases the demand through multiple factors. For starters, the lifter must exhibit greater control and stability as the kettlebell itself is much more unstable than a fixed, evenly distributed, lower object such as a dumbbell. Secondly, the tempo/speed of the movement is inherently slower and more controlled typically, for the purpose of increasing control and stability.

More About the Renegade Row

Take a look at some of these renegade row articles to increase your core stability, back and arm strength, and more!

Featured Image: @inashelby on Instagram

Editor’s Note: Thaddeus Owen, Co-founder of PrimalHacker, had this to say after reading the above article.

“I haven’t done focused core work in years and still have six pack abs and a strong core because of my Kettlebell training. The renegade row works your core like nothing else! Not only do you have to balance on one arm you are also lifting weight under extreme control. I’ve trained with the guys who learned directly from Pavel and taught special forces. These guys don’t do traditional core exercises and are stronger than most. The Renegade Row is one of my go to moves for overall fitness and strength and one of the key moves I use for Spartan Race training. Give it a try. I like combining it with pushups on the bells.”

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Mike holds a Master's in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Mike has been with BarBend since 2016, where he covers Olympic weightlifting, sports performance training, and functional fitness. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University, in which he works primarily with baseball, softball, track and field, cross country. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs for sports performance, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.In his first two years writing with BarBend, Mike has published over 500+ articles related to strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, and fitness. Mike’s passion for fitness, strength training, and athletics was inspired by his athletic career in both football and baseball, in which he developed a deep respect for the barbell, speed training, and the acquisition on muscle.Mike has extensive education and real-world experience in the realms of strength development, advanced sports conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, and human movement. He has a deep passion for Olympic weightlifting as well as functional fitness, old-school bodybuilding, and strength sports.Outside of the gym, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and traveller, who takes annual hunting and fishing trips to Canada and other parts of the Midwest, and has made it a personal goal of his to travel to one new country, every year (he has made it to 10 in the past 3 years). Lastly, Mike runs Rugged Self, which is dedicated to enjoying the finer things in life; like a nice glass of whiskey (and a medium to full-bodied cigar) after a hard day of squatting with great conversations with his close friends and family.