Many years ago, when I started working out, I saw a guy at the gym doing kettlebell ab exercises. I was amazed at how perfect abdominals he had, but I was skeptical. I thought he had perfect abs because of his genes. He was not a beginner, though.
Then, one day I asked him why he did that sort of abdominal exercise instead of doing the typical ones, such as crunches or leg raises. He told me he also did those, but to add extra resistance, he used free weights to strengthen his core muscles more efficiently.
Since that time, I always include kettlebell core exercises into my workout routine, and I have to say they work well for me. While there are many types of abs exercises without equipment, it is always beneficial to add some variety to the routine.
Within this guide, you will learn.
- Standing kettlebell exercises.
- List of exercises on the ground.
- Workout tips on how to use the kettlebell for abs.
- Answers to frequently asked questions.
Home workout tip: Check out the best adjustable kettlebell reviews
Standing kettlebell ab exercises
1. Kettlebell Side Hold
This static kettlebell exercise is pretty simple, but it’s great to develop core strength. You need a heavy kettlebell or dumbbell to maximize the outcome.
- Catch the weight with your left hand and get into a hip width standing position.
- Lift your right knee until your tight is parallel to the ground.
- Without bending forward or to the sides with aligned back, keep this position.
- Try to hold it for at least 60 seconds.
- Now switch to the other side and repeat.
2. Kettlebell Oblique Side Bend
Side bends target the obliques and hips. So, if you want to get V-cut lower abs, bending is a great exercise.
- Stand with feet about shoulder-width apart and grab the kettlebell in one hand and hold it.
- Place your other hand behind your head or ear.
- Keep your back in a straight line and look forward.
- Lower the kettlebell down as far as you can to get the maximum stretch on the opposite side of your abdomen.
- With the power of the opposite oblique pull the kettlebell until the oblique is fully contracted. You can stop for a moment and squeeze your side.
- Slowly with control, lower the kettlebell again.
- If you are read with one side switch to the other.
3. Kettlebell Torso Twist
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Pick up the kettlebell with both hands and hold it at the stomach level.
- Turn your trunk to the one side as far as you feel comfortable while you bend your knee a little bit and pivot your feet as well.
- Do the same on the other side.
- Try to make the movement continuous and dynamic. Control the motion with the power of the core muscles.
4. Kettlebell Windmill
This kettlebell exercise is perfect for strengthening the posterior chain, such as your lower back and glutes, but the obliques and hips are also engaged.
- Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width. Grab the bell in one palm.
- Lift the weight above your head with straightened arm and twist your torso as backward as you can while you keep your eyes on the kettlebell.
- Lean forward and touch the floor with your other hand while you keep the turned position.
- Bring your upper body up slowly to the starting position.
5. Kettlebell Swing
The standard kettlebell swings wo
rk the core ideally since that is the connection between the upper and lower body. Also, since it’s an intensive and compound exercise, it boosts the heart rate quickly, which supports calorie burning. Hence, the kettlebell swing is great to burn belly fat. You should lift the kettlebell up to shoulder height, keep your arm straight and push your hips forward.
Tip: Try the lateral swing which works the stabilizer muscles, obliques and shoulders well.
6. Single leg Romanian Deadlift
While deadlift mainly targets the hamstrings because of the unstable state, the core has to work hard to keep the balance. If you check out the exercise video, you will see how hard the abdomen of the guy works.
- Grab the handle, stand with feet close to each other, and align your back.
- With straight right arm lean forward until the kettlebell almost touches the floor while you lift your right leg on the same side. The movement requires control, so do slowly.
- Pull yourself back to the starting position.
- Do the same with your left arm and leg.
7. Kettlebell Suitcase Carry
You can do this kettlebell exercise with single or double hands. I prefer the single version since it requires more control. Also, you need to use a somewhat heavy piece.
- Grab the weight to your side and align your back.
- Slowly start walking without letting your torso to bend. You can have a counterbalance by holding your opposite arm out.
- Walk for at least a minute.
8. Alternating Reverse Lunge with Kettlebell Pass
Lunges are excellent exercises to strengthen the quads and hams, but they put the body into an unstable state. Hence, the core should work to keep the balance. With this weighted version, we can add even more resistance.
- Stand with feet close to each other and hold the weight in your left hand.
- With your left leg step backward until your front thigh is parallel to the ground. You may need to test before how far your need to step back.
- Under your front thigh, pass the kettlebell to your right hand.
- Press yourself up and get back to the starting position.
- Do the same on the other side.
- Do your reps.
I think the best method to use this fitness equipment is to do standing core workouts. They are the most efficient to lose belly fat and get rid of love handles.
You will be able to burn more fat as your entire body must move. This way, more muscles work together, and that needs more energy, and with that, your body burns more calories.
Besides, standing routines are especially useful to shape the obliques and hips. The side bend exercise is a perfect move for that.
Below you can watch my playlist of the best kettlebell workouts for beginners. I love the kettlebell swing that provides a full-body workout.
Core exercises with the kettlebell on the floor
With the help of the weight, you can add extra resistance to typical floor exercises to train your upper abs, lower abs, and oblique.
I have a few favorite ones. These are the Russian twist, the kettlebell crunch, sit-ups, leg raises, and Jackknife. But we should not forget about the plank row (renegade row), which is a perfect full-body exercise.
The plank is excellent for improving core stability. With the help of the kettlebell, we can make this exercise harder since the round base of the kettlebell gives an unstable and wobbling position. You can do it with one or two pieces.
- Put the kettlebell quite close to each other and grab the handles.
- Get into a plank position. Keep your head, spine, and legs in line. Your arms aligned.
- Hold this position for at least 45 seconds.
10. Russian Twists
- Sit down and hold a kettlebell at about chest level.
- Arrange your back and lean backward while you lift your bent knees slightly to keep the balance.
- Twist your trunk to the sides without snagging your shoulders.
- Do the required reps.
11. Turkish get up
I think the Turkish get up is the most complex movement of all kettlebell exercises that requires learning the form. So, if you are a beginner, it’s better to break up the move into movement patterns for example you practice only the get up phase. Because of that such complexity, Turkish get up works almost all muscle groups of the body at once, among them abs.
12. Single-Arm Kettlebell Overhead Sit-Up
- Lie on the floor and press the weight above your head with a straight arm.
- With aligned back, sit up without using the momentum.
- Slowly lower yourself back to the starting point.
- Repeat and do reps you need.
If it’s hard, you can put the kettlebell on your chest instead of holding it above you.
13. Renegade Row
While this exercise is mainly done for strengthening the lats and shoulders because of the uneven position, the core is activated.
- Get into a plank position with two weights in your hands.
- Your head, back, and legs are in line during the whole movement. Your holding arm is straight.
- Lift the kettlebell with your right hand until your elbow gets above your upper back. Do it slowly concentrating on your lat.
- Slowly place the kettlebell back.
- Do the same on the other side.
Kettlebell Ab Workout Tips for Safety and Benefits
What to pay attention
- Using weights for abdominal exercises can cause injuries. Hence, it is critical to warm up and stretch before, particularly the lower back.
- It requires existing core strength, so it is not recommended for total beginners.
- To get the results, it is crucial to have proper form and focus on the muscle group you want to train.
- Finally, do not use too heavy weights because you will not be able to do movements correctly, keep the position, and the number of reps and sets that are required. Choose the load to your fitness level.
How to target the lower abs?
For shaping that area, the best moves are various leg raises on the floor or with a bar. But, if you do the kettlebell exercises above, you will shape your lower abdominal muscles as well.
What are the best side abs exercises?
If you want to shape your obliques and hips, you need to do torso rotational exercises such as kettlebell oblique twist or side bends. However, these kettlebell moves are good for toning and strengthening the muscles. If you want to get rid of love handles, you should do fat burning HIIT workouts, a kind of cardio. Also, most importantly, you need to modify your diet.
Do kettlebell exercises help to get lean abs?
Unfortunately, not the best ones. These moves are great for toning and strengthening the muscles, but if they are covered with fat, the hard workout is useless. The best way to get rid of belly fat is not doing abs workouts all the time, but focusing on your diet and doing cardio to burn calories. The amount of fat you can burn with these moves is minimal. Healthy eating is vital to get six-pack abs.
What are the kettlebell training benefits?
I believe one of the most useful pieces of free weights are the kettlebells, and not just for the midsection.
The reason is simple. While we use bells, several muscles should cooperate to perform the moves correctly and keep the balance of the body. This way, more muscles are engaged, especially the stabilizer muscles.
Learn more about the fitness benefits of kettlebell training.
As you see, there are many sorts of efficient movements you can do to train your core muscles. Kettlebell ab exercises are worth to try and implement into your regime.