If you want a sculpted midsection that’s strong, resilient and provides stability for your lower back then a strong set of abs is going to provide you with much more benefits to your health than just aesthetics.
Your core and ab muscles are the foundation of your body and focusing on strengthening them through an abdominal workout with a kettlebell may be your best new training hack.
In this article we are going to cover the best kettlebell exercises for core, provide you with a kettlebell core workout as well as diving into some common questions we get asked such as “is the kettlebell swing good for abs”.
Kettlebell Core Exercises
- The Kettlebell Swing
- Kettlebell Russian Twist
- Turkish Get Up
- Kettlebell Sit Up
- Kettlebell Oblique Side Bend
- Kettlebell Windmill
- Kettlebell Halo
- Kettlebell Plank Drag
- Kettlebell Farmers Carries
- Kettlebell Clean + Jerk
The Kettlebell Swing
The classic kettlebell swing is probably one of the first exercises you will learn. It’s great for increased jumping power and training the important muscles of the posterior kinetic chain. For reference, this would be your glutes, biceps, and your core muscles.
To start off, perform kettlebell swings for one full minute and rest. Complete this set for 10 minutes max if you’re beginning to learn how to perform this exercise.
Here’s how to do a standard kettlebell swing:
- Start by standing feet shoulder-width apart with the kettlebell being held off the ground.
- Bend at the waist, palms should be facing your body and torso should be nearly parallel to the ground.
- Pull your shoulder down and back. Engage your core. Lift the kettlebell off the ground. Knees should be bent, back flat and neck straight.
- Drive the movement from your hips and propel forward with the kettlebell swinging into the air. Control the movement with your arms. Make sure you don’t swing past your shoulders.
- Swing back down through your legs.
Kettlebell Russian Twist
This exercise is great to target your obliques and abdominal area. The best way to perform this exercise is to bring your legs close to your body. Also making sure your upper body is raised in a “v” shape will help you feel comfortable.
With this type of ab exercise, you don’t need to be doing it every single day to get abs, in fact, it’s not necessary to do abdominal training every day.
Watch how to do a kettlebell Russian twist:
- Lie on your back and keep your knees bent.
- Lift your upper body up so it creates an imaginary V-shape with your thighs.
- Grab your kettlebell and hold it between your hands.
- Engage your core and twist your torso to one side lifting the kettlebell in the same direction.
- Hold the position and move back to the starting position.
- Repeat on the other side.
Turkish Get Up
The Turkish Get-Up is maybe one of the more challenging kettlebell exercises that you can learn to do. It’s an exercise that essentially teaches you how to lift. It’s also a great way to teach your body awareness and control. Gripping the kettlebell properly, lifting your shoulders and preventing your elbow from bending will ensure that you are performing the Turkish get-up properly!
Here’s how to do the Turkish get up:
- Roll onto your back and hold the kettlebell up with your right arm.
- Position your legs so that they form a 45-degree angle with your body. Keep your right leg bent and your right foot flat to the floor. Then place your left arm out at a 45-degree angle for support when you push off from the ground.
- Push off to your left with your right foot, keep the kettlebell up and press your left elbow into the floor.
- Lift your left leg and pull it underneath yourself. Then lower yourself to your left ankle.
- Now stand up whilst pressing your right foot into the floor to stand. Keep your elbow locked and wrist straight (your kettlebell hand).
Kettlebell Sit Up
This kettlebell exercise is not only great for your abs but also your back and hips. It’s a wonderful exercise to try to strengthen your muscles and focus on your core. To perform this exercise correctly, it’s vital that you hold the kettlebell tightly and to not let the weight rest on the body. When lowering yourself, do it slowly and with control to get the maximum benefits of the exercise.
Learn how to do the kettlebell sit-up:
- Hold the kettlebell between both hands and lie down on your back.
- Place your feet firmly on the ground and bend your legs. This will help stabilise your lower body.
- Curl your body up while lifting the kettlebell up to the ceiling. Exhale as you lift up. Keep your back straight.
- Slowly lower yourself down, whilst holding the kettlebells straight up.
Kettlebell Oblique Side Bend
This exercise helps target and strengthen your obliques. It’s the best workout to lose your love handles! Make sure your back remains straight throughout the exercise. Also, the movement should be to the side only so that you prevent any strain on the back or spine.
This is how to do a kettlebell oblique standing side bend:
- Stand up straight while holding the kettlebell. Your feet should be placed at shoulder width.
- Breathe in and bend to one side. Hold for a second then come back to your starting position. The rest of your body should be stationary.
- Repeat the movement on the other side.
The kettlebell windmill is a kettlebell ab rotation exercise that challenges the mobility of your adductors (groin muscles) hamstrings as well as your shoulder stability and thoracic (spine) mobility. This advanced full-body kettlebell exercise will aid in strengthening, stabilising and mobilising and is a must for any advanced-level fitness fanatic or athlete.
This is how to do a kettlebell windmill:
- Stand with feet wider than hip-width, holding a kettlebell in your right hand.
- Extend the kettlebell overhead, turn your feet to the left, and push your hips back diagonally to the right.
- Keeping your eyes on the kettlebell, bend at the hips to lower your left hand towards your left foot.
- Drive your hips forward using your glutes to return to standing. That’s one rep.
The kettlebell halo is another kettlebell ab rotation exercise that also challenges shoulder mobility and stability, strengthening the rotator cuff muscles and deltoids which are crucial for maintaining shoulder health and function, particularly if you do a lot of overhead lifting and pressing. Due to its relatively low impact this is a great starting exercise for beginners to get used to rotational movements to improve coordination and balance.
This is how to do a kettlebell halo:
- Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding the kettlebell upside down by the horns at chest level.
- Circle the kettlebell around your head, moving it to one side, behind your head, to the other side, and back in front of your chest. That’s one rep.
Kettlebell Plank Drag
If you’re competent at performing a plank and want to challenge your abs and core even more then this is going to give your core a workout like no other.
Combining the plank position with dragging a kettlebell across your body challenges your core’s ability to resist rotation, providing what’s known as anti-rotational strength, which is an important factor in improving functional strength and injury prevention.
This is how to perform a kettlebell plank drag:
- Start in a high plank position with a kettlebell to one side of your body.
- Maintain the plank position as you reach under your torso with the opposite hand to drag the kettlebell to the other side.
- Repeat the drag with the other hand. That’s one rep.
Kettlebell Farmers Carries
Carries are a seriously underrated training tool, moving through locomotion and challenging anti-rotational strength the kettlebell farmers carry are going to improve overall posture, grip strength, core stability and shoulder health. This is one of those bang-for-buck exercises that should be included in your repertoire of training and you’ll be sure to reap the benefits.
This is how to perform a kettlebell farmers carry:
- Stand tall, holding a kettlebell in each hand at your sides.
- Walk forward, keeping your shoulders back and chest up.
- Continue walking for the desired distance or time.
Kettlebell Clean + Jerk
An underlooked exercise when it comes to challenging the core but is commonly used for power development to improve explosive strength however this exercise requires a great deal of coordination of various parts on your body challenging your balance and core alongside working multiple muscle groups simultaneously including your legs, glutes, back shoulders and arms.
This is how to do a kettlebell clean and jerk:
- Stand with feet hip-width apart, and place a kettlebell between your feet.
- Bend at your hips and knees, grasp the kettlebell with one hand.
- Clean the kettlebell to your shoulder by extending through the legs and hips as you pull the kettlebell towards your shoulder.
- Bend your knees and hips to dip your body, then forcefully extend them, and push the kettlebell overhead to a full arm extension.
- Lower the kettlebell back to your shoulder and then to the floor. That’s one rep.
Kettlebell Ab Workouts To Try
We’ve provided you with three different kettlebell core workouts to try, one if you’re short on time and need a quick kettlebell ab workout to start or finish your session, a more advanced kettlebell ab workout and a full kettlebell core workout. Workouts are written as A series, B Series and C Series which means that you complete all A exercises as a superset, go straight from A1) to A2) with the written rest time then back to A1) for a second set.
Full Kettlebell Core Workout
|A1) Turkish Get Up||6 per side||3||30s|
|A2) Kettlebell Swing||15 reps||3||60s|
|B1) Kettlebell Clean + Jerk||6-8 each side||3||30s|
|B2) Kettlebell Windmill||10 per side||3||60s|
|C1) Kettlebell Farmers Carries||20m each way||3||30s|
Advanced Kettlebell Ab Workout
|A1) Kettlebell Halo||12 each way||4||30s|
|A2) Kettlebell Windmill||12 per side||4||60s|
|B1) Kettlebell Plank Drag||15 per side||4||30s|
|B2) Kettlebell Sit-up||20 reps||4||60s|
Quick Kettlebell Core Workout
|A1) Kettlebell Oblique Side Bends||20 per side||2||15s|
|A2) Kettlebell Sit-up||20||2||15s|
|A3) Kettlebell Plank Drag||15 per side||2||60s|
1. Can kettlebell ab workouts help with achieving visible abdominal muscles?
Kettlebell ab workouts can contribute to developing visible abdominal muscles by targeting and strengthening the core. Exercises like Russian twists, Kettlebell Sit-ups and kettlebell windmills which include ab rotation focus on challenging the core effectively.
However, we’ve all heard the saying “abs are made in the kitchen” and there is some truth in that statement, to achieve visible abs it requires a low body fat percentage which can be attained through a combination of exercise and a balanced diet.
2. What makes kettlebell exercise effective for strengthening the core compared to other forms of abdominal training?
Kettlebell exercises require stabilisation and engagement of the entire core, including abs, obliques, lower back, and muscles surrounding the hip like your glutes.
The off-centre weight distribution adds an element of instability, forcing the core muscles to work harder to maintain balance and control. Dynamic movements, such as kettlebell swings and turkish get-ups, engage the core muscles through a wide range of motion, including kettlebell ab rotation promoting functional strength and stability.
3. Are there any specific kettlebell ab exercises that can improve posture and stability?
Kettlebell farmer’s carries are excellent exercises for improving posture and stability. By holding a kettlebell in each hand and walking, maintaining a stacked ribcage and pelvis challenges the core to resist rotation through locomotion.
Kettlebell ab rotation exercises such as the kettlebell halo and kettlebell windmill can also help improve shoulder stability and overall posture whilst increasing functional strength.
4. Can kettlebell Ab workouts be integrated into a full-body workout routine?
Yes, kettlebell ab workouts can be incorporated into a full-body workout routine. Kettlebell exercises, including those targeting the abs, can be combined with other compound movements such as squats, luges, and presses to create a well rounded workout.
This integration allows for efficient use of time and a comprehensive training session that engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously due to the muscular co-contractions kettlebell core workouts provide.
5, Are there modifications or progressions available for kettlebell ab exercises to accommodate different fitness levels?
Yes, you can modify kettlebell ab exercises to suit any level of fitness. If you’re a beginner start with lighter kettlebells and perform exercises with a reduced range of motion. ie. Start with a kettlebell halo before you attempt a kettlebell windmill to build up rotational strength and stability.
Advanced fitness levels can progress to using heavier kettlebells and explore more challenging variations of exercises such as adding kettlebell ab rotation exercises. It’s important to take a slow and steady approach and progress gradually, if you’re not sure where to start or what exercise is suitable for you right now then seek guidance from one of our qualified fitness professionals to ensure proper form and minimise the risk of injury.
STRENGTHEN YOUR CORE & IMPROVE YOUR FITNESS WITH OUR PERSONAL TRAINERS
If you’re keen to learn more kettlebell exercises or looking to change up your fitness routine, our world-class trainers can help. They’re trained to teach you the right form and technique, along with supporting you on your fitness journey.
Get in touch with one of our friendly Crunch staff members now to book your session to get started.
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