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5 Kettlebell Ab Workouts to Sculpt a Functional Core

Kettlebell Ab Workout

Many ab workouts just use body weight, but if you want a fun new spin on the classic ab workout, I recommend adding kettlebells to spice things up. Today, we’ll cover 5 kettlebell ab workouts–all of which will make you hate life

Just kidding–but not really. 

You’ll hate life in the moment because your abs will be on fire, but you’ll love life even more when you feel healthy to your very core and have a six-pack as a token of all that hard work! 

We all tend to put on a little extra weight around the holidays, and there’s nothing wrong with stocking up for the winter. If you’re like me, your stomach is the first place to show that weight. 

But imagine if this holiday season, instead of putting on the stomach pounds, you did something proactive for your abs. Imagine summer rolling around and then picture you sporting a six-pack for your first beach outing. Now that’s an image, huh? 

But the truth is, six-pack abs don’t just happen overnight. It takes hard work to get there, and in my opinion, there’s no better time to put in that work than fall and winter because they’ll be ready just in time to show them off at your first summer beach trip. 

You may be wondering: "But what are kettlebell ab workouts and exercises I can try?" I'll answer that question in this article. With these 5 kettlebell ab workout exercises, your abs won’t have a choice but to get sculpted!

 

Ab Anatomy: What Muscles Are Worked During a Kettlebell Ab Workout 

In general conversation, we refer to “abs,” and most of the time, we’re talking about the six-pack portion of the abs–but in reality, there are three main muscles that comprise this area. If you want a six-pack, it's gonna be important for you to know what muscles you’re working during each kettlebell ab exercise. 

The Rectus Abdominis, the six-pack muscle, runs vertically and flexes the spine during exercises.

The Obliques are found on the sides and work during twisting and bending motions. When worked out, the obliques will give you those coveted V-cut abs! 

The Transversus Abdominis, the deepest layer, supports core stability and posture without much external display of muscle. But–they say it’s what’s inside that matters most. 

 

Benefits of Adding Kettlebell Workouts Into Your Routine

Kettlebell Ab Workout

 

Now that you can be considered an authority on all ab muscles, let’s get into why kettlebells are gonna be clutch for your six-pack goal. 

Core Strength: Obvious but worth a mention: kettlebell ab workouts will strengthen your core, which not only gives you better aesthetics around your stomach but also helps with injury prevention, especially for your lower back. 

Better Balance: Because of a kettlebell’s shape, the center of gravity lies below the handle, which causes unequal weight distribution–making it a hassle to balance. When you do master the balancing act of handling a kettlebell, however, you’ve successfully engaged more muscles and improved your balance at the same time! 

Convenience: Kettlebells are easy to buy and easy to find at any local gym! They’re also mobile–meaning you can bring them wherever you need to go to work out. They also provide a ton of versatility when it comes to ways to use them. You can really use kettlebells for a full ab workout. 

Efficiency: Kettlebell ab workouts are usually compound exercises–meaning they target multiple muscle groups and joints at the same time. This means they provide a more full-body workout–killing two birds (or more!) with one stone–never wasting your workout time. 

Better Grip Strength: Regular ab workouts obviously won’t help with this, but when you use kettlebells for your ab workout, you also improve grip strength because you’ll be hanging on to those kettlebell handles for dear life! 

Like Ab Day–But Better: Kettlebell ab workouts make ab day less of a yawn. Especially if you're feeling bored with your current ab routine, kettlebells can add just the right amount of unique flare to keep you motivated!

 

5 Kettlebell Ab Workouts That Will Have Your Abs Screaming for Mercy! 

Okay, you’re ready to grab those kettlebells and light up your abs! But what about those kettlebell ab workouts and exercises you can try today? 

Before you commit yourself to a head-turning six-pack, give these 5 kettlebell ab workout moves a read. See which ones call your name. 

Along the way, I’ll explain the benefits of each move as well as the muscles worked. 

Kettlebell Ab Workout Exercise #1: Kettlebell Swing

The kettlebell swing is a standing kettlebell ab workout exercise.

Muscles Worked With This Kettlebell Ab Workout Exercise: 

- Rectus Abdominis 

- Obliques 

- Transversus Abdominis 

- Hip Muscles 

- Lower Back 

- Legs

- Shoulders 

 

Benefits of This Kettlebell Ab Workout Exercise: 

This standing kettlebell ab workout is one of the best kettlebell ab workouts and exercises you can try. It's popular among kettlebell users–and with good reason! 

As you see from the muscles worked, this is a full-body, compound exercise, and it makes sense because as you lift the kettlebell and let it swing back down, your whole body engages to support the moving weight. My only warning is: If you have a lower back injury, this one might not be the best for you. 

How to Perform This Kettlebell Ab Workout Exercise: 

  1. Hold a kettlebell in both hands, and stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. 
  1. Allow the kettlebell to hang down between your legs, hinging back at your hips and allowing your knees to bend slightly. 
  1. Contract your glutes, pushing your hips forward until your body is in an upright standing position. With this same motion, raise the kettlebell with both arms as high as you can. 
  1. Then return the kettlebell back to the lower position–again hinging your hips back and bending your knees. 

 

Kettlebell Ab Workout Exercise #2: Turkish Get Ups

The Turkish Get Up is a standing kettlebell ab workout exercise.

 

Muscles Worked With This Kettlebell Ab Workout Exercise: 

And wow - there’s a lot! 

- Rectus Abdominis 

- Obliques 

- Transversus Abdominis 

- Glutes

- Traps 

- Lower Back 

- Hamstrings 

- Triceps

- Lats

- Calves

Benefits of This Kettlebell Ab Workout Exercise: 

Well then. You might need a break from reading after getting through all the muscles worked in this kettlebell ab workout exercise. 

As you can see, this is as full-body as it gets. This move is super complicated and not for the faint-hearted because it’s also one of the harder kettlebell ab workouts and exercises you can try

The exercise consists of seven different positions, and I’ll break them down for you below. It’s important to keep a straight posture, puffed chest, and tight core throughout the entirety of this kettlebell ab workout exercise. 

How to Perform This Kettlebell Ab Workout Exercise: 

  1. Position #1: Lie on your back, keeping your right leg bent and right foot flat on the floor. Hold the kettlebell up with your right arm. You’ll keep this held up through every step. 
  1. Position #2: Now use your right foot to lift your body up off the ground, allowing your left elbow to come up and support you. Your left heel should remain on the floor. 
  1. Position #3: Next, push your left elbow off the ground, fully extending your arm–supporting yourself now with your left hand. 
  1. Position #4: Lift your left hip up and off the floor, allowing your body to turn sideways and your arms to form a straight line. Keep your left leg straight. Keep your right leg bent and your right foot stable on the ground. 
  1. Position #5: Now, bring your left leg in towards you, placing your left knee on the ground in line with your left hip. 
  1. Position #6: Bring your left hand off the ground, allowing your torso to straighten and your left arm to hang naturally down. 
  1. Position #7: Finally, stand up–bringing both feet to the floor–shoulder-width apart–still holding up the kettlebell. 
  1. Reverse the entire motion one position at a time. 
  1. Then, repeat on the other side. 

 

Kettlebell Ab Workout Exercise #3: Kettlebell Russian Twist 

Muscles Worked With This Kettlebell Ab Workout Exercise: 

- Rectus Abdominis 

- Obliques 

- Transversus Abdominis 

- Erector Spinae

- Shoulders & Arms 

 

Benefits of This Kettlebell Ab Workout Exercise: 

This is like a regular Russian twist but on steroids! Using the kettlebell elevates the burn in your abs–so if you’re ready for that extra challenge in your ab routine, this kettlebell ab workout exercise is right for you! 

How to Perform This Kettlebell Ab Workout Exercise: 

  1. Sit on the floor with both knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. 
  1. Lean back, allowing your torso to form a 45-degree angle with the floor. 
  1. Grab a kettlebell with both hands, holding the weight straight out in front of your chest. You can choose to hold it by the handle or on the actual weighted portion of the kettlebell. 
  1. Lift your feet off the ground, keeping your core engaged. 
  1. With both hands, bring the kettlebell down to one side near your hip. Then, bring it to the other side, repeating these reps at a steady pace.  
  1. Repeat for 10-12 reps. 

 

Kettlebell Ab Workout Exercise #4: Kettlebell Figure 8 Pass

The Figure 8 Pass is a kettlebell ab workout exercise.

 

Muscles Worked With This Kettlebell Ab Workout Exercise: 

- Obliques 

- Transversus Abdominis 

- Hip Muscles

- Quads

- Hamstrings

- Shoulder & Arm Muscles 

- Upper Back & Lats 

 

Benefits of This Kettlebell Ab Workout Exercise: 

Well first, this standing kettlebell workout exercise is just fun. Once you get into a good flow of making the figure 8, it doesn’t even feel like a workout. This is a great kettlebell ab workout and exercise you can try for deep core work as well as your obliques. 

How to Perform This Kettlebell Ab Workout Exercise: 

  1. Stand with your legs slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. 
  1. Bend your knees slightly. 
  1. Hold a kettlebell with both hands, allowing it to hang down between your legs. 
  1. Using your right hand, pass the kettlebell back behind your left leg, passing it to your left hand. 
  1. Now use your left hand to swing the kettlebell in front of the left leg–back to the right hand. 
  1. Use the right hand to pass the kettlebell behind the right leg and then back around the front of your right leg and back to the left hand. 

The easiest way I’ve heard to remember this is: behind the left, catch, behind the right, catch. When you’re done, you will have formed a full figure 8. This is one rep. 

  1. Repeat 10-12 reps. 

 

Kettlebell Ab Workout Exercise #5: Kettlebell Windmill

Muscles Worked With This Kettlebell Ab Workout Exercise: 

- Rectus Abdominis 

- Obliques 

- Transversus Abdominis 

- Shoulder Muscles 

- Lats

- Quadratus Lumborum (QL)

- Hip Muscles 

- Quads

- Hamstrings 

- Forearm Muscles 

Benefits of This Kettlebell Ab Workout Exercise: 

The QL is what gets really stretched here during this standing kettlebell ab exercise–and there are tons of benefits to working the QL out–such as minimizing risk of injury, helping lower back pain, and improving posture! 

For more tips on caring for your QL, check out the last bit of this article! 

How to Perform This Kettlebell Ab Workout Exercise: 

  1. Stand with legs slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. 
  1. Grab a kettlebell with your right arm, and extend this arm straight up and above your head, facing the palm forward. 
  1. Allow your left arm to hang naturally down in front of your left thigh. Then, turn the palm facing out. 
  2. Keeping your right arm upright as it holds the kettlebell, hinge down at the hips, and lower your body to the left side. Your left arm will slide down your leg, allowing your left hand to touch your foot. 
  3. Return to the upright position. Then repeat. 
  4. When you’re done, switch sides. 

 

How to Care for Your QL & Other Lower Back Muscles 

The QL Claw

As promised, I wanted to wrap this kettlebell article up with a recommendation for caring for your QL and other muscles in your lower back. 

Your core and lower back are deeply connected–and when you build up your core muscles through kettlebell ab workouts, you’re simultaneously providing stability for your lower back–helping you prevent injury and lower back pain. (Check out our page on Core Exercises with Dumbbells for some variation!)

In my experience, preventing lower back pain comes through a combination of working out and massage. We covered the working out part, so let’s get into the massage part, which, thankfully, is way easier!

To hit all the trigger points in your lower back, I recommend the QL Claw. It’s our very own at-home massage tool, and we’re kind of obsessed with it. 

That’s because it works.

Really well. 

The QL is a muscle so deep in your lower back–it’s sometimes referred to as an abdominal muscle. This muscle is a huge culprit in causing lower back pain and tightness. So naturally, we had to create something to counter that. 

When you use the QL Claw, you’ll feel instant lower back relief–good enough to free you up for all your kettlebell ab workouts! 

For more info about the QL muscle and the QL Claw, check out this video: 


 

 

Now that you've read about Kettlebell Ab Workouts, check out our pages on Ab Exercises with a BallDeep Core Exercises, and Gorilla Rows!

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