One Exercise You Have Never Tried With Your Kettlebell: Kettlebell Dorsi Flexion

Dec. 1st 2014 | by Matt Bembridge (AKA Gym Professor)

Kettlebells ready.

Historic strongman tools, such as Kettlebells, are all the craze in today’s functional fitness arena and a popular choice for training at home also. Changing the centre of mass by using a kettlebell can be very functional for exercises involving swinging movements, such as the additional inertia generated in the pendulum-style Two-Arm Kettlebell Swing.

A kettlebell is also a good choice for an exercise like the Turkish Get Up, as the weight sitting on the back of your arm changes the balance point favourably. For many exercises though, other training tools – dumbbells, barbells, bands, and cables – are far better suited, which is why you will predominantly see me training with these tools. Consider it like a tradesperson using the right tool for the right job.

An exercise I discovered (and accused by one person of a bit of “mess-about-ory” when I posted a video on social media, which is accurate to be fair) where kettlebells are the ideal progressive option is Dorsi Flexion – the ankle movement of pulling your foot up towards the lower leg, which uses your Tibialis Anterior muscle. Most individuals would not have a need to perform Dorsi Flexion under resistance in a gym environment; however, limited movement or injury in this area will impact many other basic movements such as squats, steps, landing from a jump, etc., and the reason why some will perform it as part of a rehabilitative measure or for improved sports performance. A resistance band would typically be used for light mobility work; but, the centre of mass of a kettlebell proves ideal to hook the handle over your foot and secure a kettlebell in place for performing Dorsi Flexion under greater load.

Despite the “mess-about-ory” tag online, I was especially pleased to see that a member of Stroke Survivors and an ARNI (Action for Rehabilitation from Neurological Injury) Instructor subsequently added the exercise to his own repertoire and that of capable clients as part of their exercise treatment for foot drop.

So, there you have it: an exercise that you’ve never performed with a kettlebell and the ideal progressive choice should you suffer limited movement and/ or require greater strength in that plain for improved sports performance: Kettlebell Dorsi Flexion.

For information on Stroke Survivors and The ARNI Institute, please visit

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