The kettlebell is an effective tool that is great for building muscle, burning fat, improving core strength, and increasing strength and stability.
Did you know that kettlebell workouts can burn approximately 300 calories in just 20 minutes?
In this article, we've outlined six of the best kettlebell ab exercises to help you burn fat and strengthen your core.
Use these exercises to build your core workouts and improve your core strength.
THE BEST KETTLEBELL AB EXERCISES
These kettlebell ab exercises combine explosive body movements with uneven weight distribution to keep your core engaged.
- Kettlebell Halo
- Kettlebell Overhead Sit Up
- Kettlebell Kick Throughs
- Kettlebell Russian Twists
- Kettlebell Pull Throughs
- Kettlebell Single Arm Swings
To warm up for these kettlebell workouts, you can perform a few reps of the same exercise with light weights or no weight.
The kettlebell halo specifically targets the shoulder and core muscles. It is an ideal exercise to warm up the shoulder girdle and rotational muscles.
Important for athletic training and performance, the kettlebell halo improves the reflexive stability, your body's ability to anticipate movement before it happens, of your core.
Rotating the bell around your head while keeping your core tight and maintaining proper, requires full concentration and enhances the mind-muscle connection.
KETTLEBELL HALO TARGET MUSCLES:
- Upper Back
- Grip Strength
This exercise strengthens all the major muscle groups in the shoulder region, triceps, and upper back. In one swift movement, the kettlebell halo targets the trapezius muscles, deltoids, and rhomboids.
It strengthens the erector spinae region which has a network of muscles and tendons along the length of the spine to improve your overall back strength.
The rotational movement required to perform the kettlebell halo also helps to build forearm muscle tone and strength.
HOW TO PERFORM THE KETTLEBELL HALO:
The kettlebell halo can be performed from either a standing or kneeling position.
In the standing position, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent.
In the kneeling position, find an area easy on your knees where you'll be able to perform the exercise comfortably and effectively.
Variation 1: Grip the kettlebell by the horns, bell down.
Variation 2: Grip the kettlebell by the horns, bottoms up.
- Grab the kettlebell by the horns.
- Start with the kettlebell at chest level, elbows tucked, core engaged, and posture strong.
- Lift and rotate the kettlebell around the head and bring it back down to chest level.
- Repeat the movement in the opposite direction and alternate sides until the set is complete.
KETTLEBELL OVERHEAD SIT UP
Kettlebell overhead sit ups are one of the most challenging kettlebell exercises to build your core and shoulder strength.
Depending on your strength and mobility, use your best judgment and find a kettlebell heavy enough to give you a good workout while maintaining proper form.
KETTLEBELL OVERHEAD SIT UP TARGET MUSCLES:
- Upper Abs
- Lower Abs
- Transverse Abdominis
Kettlebell overhead sit-up targets all the abdominal muscles including the upper abs, lower abs, and the transverse abdominis. Your arms and back muscles get a good workout too.
HOW TO PERFORM KETTLEBELL OVERHEAD SIT UPS:
- Sit on the ground, with your legs slightly bent, and the kettlebell between your legs.
- Grab the kettlebell by the horns and raise it to chest level.
- Slowly lay down until your back hits the ground and the kettlebell is resting on your chest.
- Bend your knees, position your feet slightly wider than your shoulders, and extend your arms to raise the kettlebell directly in front of you.
- Keep your abs tight, raise your shoulders and upper body off the ground while holding the kettlebell overhead, until you are in a seated position.
- Slightly pause at the top of the movement.
- In a controlled motion, slowly lay back down to the starting position.
KETTLEBELL KICK THROUGHS
Kettlebell kick throughs combine cardio and strength to burn fat and strengthen the abdominal muscles.
A full body exercise, kick throughs require shoulder strength, core stabilization, coordination, and balance.
While kettlebell kick-throughs are primarily for strength training, you can use faster movements to turn it into a cardio workout. You can start with slow movements as you master the balancing of the moves. The slow speed increases the time for which your muscles are under tension, which in turn, builds more strength.
KETTLEBELL KICK THROUGH TARGET MUSCLES:
Kettlebell kick throughs are one of many core exercises that combine strength and cardio, to build core strength and burn fat.
The kettlebell kick through is an extremely powerful exercise that uses a combination of your body weight and the kettlebell to help strengthen everything from your legs and glutes to hip flexors, hamstrings, arms, and shoulders.
HOW TO PERFORM KETTLEBELL KICK THROUGHS:
- Choose a heavy kettlebell to use as a base to support your weight throughout the exercise.
- Keep the bell upright with the handle facing the sky.
- Stand with your feet shoulder to hip-width apart.
- Bend down and grip the handle with two hands.
- Move your feet backward, to position yourself on all fours, with your knees elevated from the ground.
- In one controlled motion, rotate your torso to the left, swing your right leg under your body until it is fully extended.
- Pause before retracting your leg back to the starting position.
- Repeat the motion on opposite until the set is complete.
KETTLEBELL RUSSIAN TWISTS
The kettlebell Russian twist is a rotational exercise that improves rotational movement and strengthens the torso and core muscles.
A difficult exercise, Russian twists improve athletic training and performance, especially for athletes who require strong rotational strength for motions such as swinging and throwing.
KETTLEBELL RUSSIAN TWISTS TARGET MUSCLES:
The kettlebell Russian twist is a powerful ab exercise that also targets the core, while working the hips and shoulders simultaneously.
It strengthens the upper body and helps build rotational strength. It improves balance and coordination. The slower the movement, the more effective the ab workout. To ensure the potency of the workout, you need to perform the reps continuously, without stopping, and complete the set.
KETTLEBELL PULL THROUGHS
Kettlebell pull-throughs are a full-body exercise that challenges your core - to strengthen it and improve your midline stability.
KETTLEBELL PULL THROUGHS TARGET MUSCLES:
- Lower Back
- Hip Flexors
While the traditional cable pull-through is quite effective for the muscle groups in your posterior chain such as the hamstrings and the gluteus maximus, kettlebell pull-throughs primarily target your abs. To a lesser degree, this workout also targets shoulders, obliques, lower back, and hip flexors.
HOW TO PERFORM KETTLEBELL PULL THROUGHS:
- Depending on your strength and mobility, use your best judgment to choose a medium to heavy weighted kettlebell that you will be able to drag.
- Get down on the ground and into the high plank position.
- Place the kettlebell on the right side of your body by your mid torso.
- Keep a neutral spine and your core engaged.
- Brace yourself with your right arm and reach your left arm under and across your body to grab the kettlebell.
- Drag the kettlebell to the opposite side.
- Repeat the movement with your right arm and drag the kettlebell back to its starting position.
KETTLEBELL SINGLE ARM SWINGS
The single arm kettlebell swing is a challenging variation of the standard two-handed swing.
Make sure you have proper swing form before moving to the single arm swing.
Single arm swings add challenge and cardio to your standard swings to burn calories, improve shoulder strength, and work your core.
KETTLEBELL SINGLE ARM SWING TARGET MUSCLES:
- Back and Shoulder Stabilizers
The effort of swinging such a heavy object with just one arm deeply engages the core as the body needs to resist the tendency to rotate with the force of the move.
This exercise also builds grip strength, range of motion, and flexibility.
HOW TO PERFORM SINGLE ARM KETTLEBELL SWINGS:
- Grab a lighter kettlebell than you would use for a standard kettlebell swing.
- Use the same stance as the kettlebell swing, feet apart and slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
- Plant your heels, push your hips back, bend at the knees, and grab the kettlebell by the handle with your right hand.
- Engage your core, pull the kettlebell back towards your heels to generate power, and in one fluid motion, explode the hips with your arm extended to swing the kettlebell up to chest height.
- Hinge at the hips to swing the bell back towards your heels before repeating the movement.
- Finish the rep range before switching to the opposite side.
*Once you get the single arm kettlebell swing down, up the ante by throwing in alternating kettlebell swings.
THE BENEFITS OF CORE KETTLEBELL EXERCISES
Now, you have 6 kettlebell core exercises to add to your training, and get in a killer kettlebell ab workout.
The benefits of kettlebell core exercises are that they don't just give you superficial abs, but they build core strength, while also putting the majority of your muscles under tension to give you a full body workout.
6 BENEFITS OF CORE KETTLEBELL EXERCISES
- Kettlebells are portable, compact, and versatile. This one tool gives you a big bang for your buck.
- A kettlebell ab workout burns more calories than conventional ab exercises. The weight of the bell adds more resistance which burns more calories, improves cardio, and increases strength to reduce belly fat and improve the appearance of the entire midsection.
- Improved core stability and strength.
- Improved grip strength, mobility, strength, and flexibility.
- Improved posture, coordination, and balance.
- Increased core and back strength protects the back to improve functional strength and reduce injury.
Kettlebell exercises build strength, mobility, cardio, coordination, balance...we could go on for days.
Basically, the best kettlebell exercises build your functional fitness and help you train for whatever life throws at you.
Use these core exercises to strengthen your core and give you a strong foundation to build off of. Your core is everything, strengthen it, protect it, and be ready to use it.