There’s no doubt about it kettlebell exercises are a great way to develop strength, power, and functional fitness, as well as increase mobility and address any asymmetries in the body. However, one of the possibly best parts of a kettlebell workout is that they offer a fantastic way to develop a stronger core without sacrificing time dedicating a workout purely to the core muscles.
One of the aspects that makes kettlebells so great is that because they’re weirdly shaped, they provide extra challenges to your core. Some think they’re even more effective than dumbbell exercises.
So, if you’re looking to increase your core strength, then you’ll want to incorporate some of these core-focused exercises into your next workout. Read on to find out the best kettlebell core workout!
What do you need to know about a kettlebell exercise?
Whilst kettlebell exercises provide a great core muscle workout, it’s essential to ensure that you don’t exhaust your abs before moving on to a back workout or a movement where you’ll need your abs to protect your spine. Generally, we recommend that you complete your kettlebell exercises at the end of your workout.
Don’t forget to warm up before your workout
Get your heart pumping with two sets of the below:
- 30 seconds of running on the spot
- Star jumps for 30 seconds
- 30 seconds of high knees
- Butt kicks for 30 seconds
Our top ten list of the best kettlebell core exercises
- Kettlebell Turkish Get-Up
- Double Kettlebell Squat
- Single-Arm Kettlebell Suitcase Carry
- Kettlebell Unilateral Overhead Press
- Kettlebell Windmill
- Unilateral Overhead Squat with dumbbell
- Double Kettlebell Front Rack Carry
- Unilateral Kettlebell Sit-Up
- Single-Arm Kettlebell Swing
- Kettlebell Dead Bug Pullover
Kettlebell Turkish Get-Up
The kettlebell Turkish get-up is great for increasing core strength, and movement, and overall enhancing the functioning of your hips, shoulder, and core. Perfect for warm-ups, strength sets, or even on active recovery days.
Note: this move is quite complicated. Check it out on YouTube for a real-time explanation.
- Increase core strength while focusing on full-body coordination
- Improve overhead stability
- Train yourself to maintain core rigidity while moving your entire body
How to do it:
- Begin by lying on the ground with the weight in your left hand, and tuck the crease between your thumb and index finger into the curve of the handle. You want the weight to rest on your forearm when you press the weight up.
- Your left leg should be bent, your knee pointing to the ceiling, and your foot planted on the ground, and your right leg should be lying straight and slightly out at a 45-degree angle.
- Press the weight up and push your legs down to the floor and right elbow.
- Focus on the kettlebell and rise from your right elbow to your right hand, raising your hips at the same time. Drag your right leg under your body and into a half-kneeling position.
- Next, windmill your torso so you’re half kneeling.
- Rise out of your lunge and into a standing position.
- Reverse until you’re back lying on the ground.
Double Kettlebell Squat
Many front-loaded movements will make it difficult for the anterior muscles of the core, and the double kettlebell squat is the same.
- Improve core strength by maintaining an upright torso and resisting a forward pull during the squat
- Practice the technique used in the front squat
- Enhance shoulder and grip strength
How to do it:
- Start by performing a double kettlebell clean, settling the kettlebells into the front rack position.
- Take a deep breath and engage your core, before sinking into a squat.
- Make sure to keep your elbows clear from colliding with your thighs or knees.
- Press through the floor to return to a standing position
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Single-Arm Kettlebell Suitcase Carry
A great way to increase core strength and activate your obliques is with the single-arm kettlebell suitcase carry.
- Target your obliques for strength and growth while combating asymmetries
- Improve your grip strength unilaterally to fight imbalances
- Increase overall core strength without allowing one side to compensate for any weaknesses in the other
How to do it:
- Begin in a standing position, and holding a heavy kettlebell at your side, keep your arm slightly pushed away from your body so that the weight isn’t resting on your leg.
- Keep your shoulders squared and walk forwards, maintaining control and measure. Don’t lean to either side; switch sides and repeat.
Unilateral Overhead Press with Kettlebell
Most overhead movements depend on your overhead mobility and shoulders, as well as your ability to stabilize your core.
- Reinforce proper core stabilization and resistance to lumbar extension while overhead pressing.
- Increases oblique engagement to resist pelvic and spinal rotation while pressing.
- Fights asymmetries and imbalances by developing your shoulder strength unilaterally.
How to do it:
- Start by performing a unilateral kettlebell clean, settling the kettlebell into the front rack position. Ensure that your neck and spine are neutral.
- Engage your core and squeeze your quads and glutes in order to protect your lower back.
- Press the kettlebell up and overhead, achieving a full extension.
- Lower down with control, before going again.
If you’re looking to increase your proficiency in your hip movement, shoulders, and core strength, then the kettlebell windmill is perfect for you. This unique movement reinforces proper hip flexion and extension while maintaining a stable core.
Note: this is another complicated move, and you may want to see one in real time before attempting it for yourself.
- Increase oblique strength while training your entire body to move through a complex range of motion
- Reinforce good hip flexion movement patterns.
- Improve shoulder stabilization through a broad range of motion.
How to do it:
- Begin standing with the kettlebell in your right hand. Slightly angle out your left foot whilst your right foot is stacked under your hip.
- Press up overhead with the kettlebell and let it rest comfortably on your forearm.
- Ensure you maintain a straight wrist and hold eye contact with the kettlebell.
- Next, place your left hand on your right thigh, and your palm should be facing upwards.
- Rotate your torso slightly towards the ground, trace your left hand down the inside of your left leg and load your right hip, and descend. Make sure to keep a soft bend in your left knee but a straight right leg.
- Your fingers might not touch the ground, but you’ll know when you’ve reached your full range of motion because the load is completely on your right hip. Plus, there’ll be a stretch in your right hip and leg.
- Maintain eye contact with the kettlebell whilst you reverse the movement and reverse back to standing.
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Kettlebell Unilateral Overhead Squat
Looking for a full-body challenge? Look no further than the kettlebell unilateral overhead squat.
- Provide an added challenge to your balance under an overhead load, not only because it’s unilateral, but because kettlebells are already off-balance
- Improve core strength and total body stability during overhead movements
- Train your body to withstand unilateral overhead loads without bringing your spine out of alignment
How to do it:
- Starting with a light to moderate weight, in a standing position with your feet slightly wider apart than a typical squat.
- Press a kettlebell overhead, keeping your shoulder packed and away from your ear as you squat as low as possible.
- Hold for a few seconds before standing again.
Double Kettlebell Front Rack Carry
Perfect for increasing core strength, the double kettlebell front rack carry allows you to lift heavy without relying solely on leg strength.
- Overload your core without being limited by lower body strength.
- Practice standing tall under heavy loads, improving your isometric strength to carry over into your bigger lifts.
- Strengthen your scapular stabilizers and upper back while challenging your entire core.
How to do it:
- Rack two kettlebells at chest height and engage your core, ensuring your shoulders are in a neutral position away from your ears.
- Walk for a set time or a distance, don’t let your torso sway or lean.
Unilateral Kettlebell Sit-Up
Although a sit-up is excellent for strengthening your core, the unilateral kettlebell sit-up elevates the results. Plus, the added complexity of load placement can increase your core strength and stability.
- Strengthen your core with an emphasis on dynamic anti-rotation.
- Improve total body coordination.
- Reduce strength asymmetries in your core.
How to do it:
- The unilateral kettlebell sit-up can be done in two ways; in the first variation, you begin lying down on the ground with the kettlebell in the front racked position. From here, you perform a sit-up.
- In the second variation, lie back and press the weight above you like a floor press, driving your feet down to the ground whilst sitting up and transitioning the kettlebell into an overhead position.
Single-Arm Kettlebell Swing
An essential staple in the toolbox of anyone who wants a strong core, the single-arm kettlebell swing will enhance your core stability.
- Develop lower body power and explosivity that can translate into your bigger lifts.
- Improve grip strength to reduce forearm and wrist strength asymmetries.
- Increase anti-rotational strength and stability in your obliques and overall core.
How to do it:
- Start with your feet about hip distance apart, and about a foot or two behind the kettlebell.
- Hinging at your hips, lean forward and grasp the kettlebell in the center of the handle with one hand.
- Next, with a soft bend in your knees and elbows, drag the weight behind you – make sure to avoid any round in your lower back.
- Once the weight has reached behind you, snap your hips like you’re completing a deadlift.
- Keep your hips and shoulders square as you float the weight up to chest height. Make sure to use your lats to stabilize yourself and let the weight fall naturally.
Kettlebell Dead Bug Pullover
These are great for core development, challenging you to keep your lower back in a safe position whilst challenging your core.
- Give your core a 360-degree challenge without loading your leg muscles
- Increase the mechanical stress on your abdominal muscles by adding the pullover element during unilateral movement
- Strengthen your upper back and chest while also developing a stronger core
How to do it:
- Begin by lying on your back and holding a kettlebell by the handles above your chest and press the kettlebell up above you.
- Next, bend your knees to 90 degrees, and raise them up so your knees are above your hips. You want your legs to be parallel to the ground.
- With control, slowly straighten your left leg and extend it towards the ground. Lower the kettlebell to the ground, going above your head with a soft bend in your elbows.
- Once the kettlebell and your left heel gently tap the ground, return them to the starting position.
Also Read: The ultimate dumbbell core workout
Sample Kettlebell workout for core muscles
Now you know the different moves, how can you maximize the gains? By including circuit training into your program. Circuits are great for building your body’s endurance and help to stimulate changes in your body composition.
Plus, it can help to ensure a balanced approach to body programming, as you can make sure your circuit has a range of different movements in it.
Need some help creating a kettlebell core circuit workout? Try this!
Perform five circuits in total, but in the first three circuits, only perform the last two exercises. In the fourth circuit, perform the first three exercises. And in the final circuit, you just want to do the Turkish get-up and the double kettlebell squat. Rest as little as possible between each set.
Kettlebell Turkish Get Up: 5 x 2 per side, building in weight
Double Kettlebell Squat: 5 x 5, using heavy loads in a controlled tempo
Unilateral Kettlebell Overhead Press: 4 x 6 – 8, with moderate to heavy loads
Double Kettlebell Front Rack Carry: 3 x 50 meters, as heavy as possible
Unilateral Kettlebell Sit Up: 3 x 12 per arm
Rest for two to three minutes between circuits.
Anatomy of the core muscles
Your core is made up of various compartments, and understanding the different parts, as well as their unique functions, will help you to grow and strengthen your core.
Here’s a breakdown of your major core muscles:
A sheet of muscle that runs vertically up your torso, the rectus abdominis is responsible for flexing your spine, as well as extensions. Most core movements target the rectus abdominis as this creates your ‘six pack’ abs.
Comprised of external and internal tissue, your obliques can be found on the sides of the trunk and run from your hips to the ribcage. Whenever you’re twisting, crunching, or performing a lateral bend, you’re working your obliques.
Your transverse abdominis runs deep in the torso underneath the rectus abdominis and provides stability for the other core muscles. When developed, the transverse abdominis help create the “V” look in a shredded stomach.
Your hip flexors are one of those ‘does what they say on the tin’, and are responsible for bending the hips. They help you to run, jump, and squat.
How to build stronger, more stable core muscles
Did you know that you don’t have to lift maximum weight to achieve maximum gains, by training your core, it’ll help to make your core sturdier. Plus, working your core with kettlebells, it’ll make your exercises even more effective because of their weird shape and off-balance weight of them. This will fire up your stabilizers and involve max muscles to generate more significant gains for strength.
It’s important to practice stabilizing your core against any rotation, and this will translate into more efficient lifts, for example, more significant deadlifts and squats.
A kettlebell core workout is amazing because strengthening your core, will help you to strengthen your entire body.
What else can you do to build a strong core?
We’ve listed the ultimate kettlebell workouts for your core, but if you want to make gains, build muscle, and level up your training, you will need some help. If you want to level up your progress, we recommend Testogen, Juiced Upp, and Brutal Force to support your gains.
So, who’s going to help you level up?
Beast Mix by JuicedUPP
With 100% natural ingredients, Beast Mix boosts T-levels, raises endurance levels, and reduces recovery times when paired with a healthy lifestyle.
Testogen’s 100% natural formula gives your daily life the little boost it needs! It safely increases testosterone, energy levels, and muscle growth. When paired with a healthy diet and exercise, Testogen can safely support muscle growth and performance.
GCUT by Brutal Force
GCUT works as a powerful fat burner to reduce chest fat and improve chest definition and works best when paired with regular exercise and a healthy diet.