Abdominals

10 Kettlebell Ab Exercises For An Improved Workout

Kettlebell Ab Exercises

Kettlebell ab exercises, like the kettlebell swing, are a fantastic way to fire up your core muscles helping to improve strength and stability.  

So, if you’re looking for some great suggestions to incorporate into your kettlebell training you’ve come to the right place.  


Recommended Reading – 5 Easy Seated Abdominal Exercises To Strengthen Your Core


In this article we’ve put these kettlebell core exercises to the test to recommend the best ones for your training along with a great kettlebell ab workout which is perfect for beginners.  

Best Kettlebell Ab Exercises For Core Strength & Stability  

The below recommendations don’t need to be performed in one workout routine, choose your favorites based on your ability and workout goals to form your own kettlebell core workout.  

heavier kettlebell

If you’re not sure on proper form, get some advice from a certified personal trainer.  

You’ll be working your abdominal muscles the entire time and all you need is a kettlebell and an exercise mat.  

Get ready to increase your functional core strength and build some muscle across your entire body.   

To properly engage your abs, you’ll need to perform the halo press standing up.  

Adding in the chest press element helps to further engage your stabilization muscles giving your core a good workout.  

This is a great exercise for working your rectus abdominis, more commonly referred to as your six pack.  

As well as targeting your abs, the halo press will also work your triceps, shoulders, and upper chest muscles.  

How To:

  1. From a standing position, use both hands and take hold of the kettlebell at the base. 
  2. Hold it up to your chest keeping your elbows tucked into your body. 
  3. Lift up your left elbow and move the kettlebell round to the right side of your head just above your right shoulder. 
  4. From that position, lift your right elbow and move the kettlebell to the back of your head. 
  5. Drop your left elbow back down bringing the kettlebell round to the left side of your head. 
  6. Drop your right elbow so the kettlebell moves back to the starting position. 
  7. Extend both elbows pressing the dumbbell away from your chest. 
  8. Pause briefly before bringing it back to your chest and repeat the movement but moving in the opposite direction. 

The kettlebell side bend is perfect for beginners as it’s so easy to do and is a great way of working your obliques.  

These are the muscles that run down either side of your upper body.  

kettlbell side bend

Making your obliques stronger can help improve your posture and reduce lower back pain.  

Start with a lighter kettlebell if you’re new to this exercise.  

How To:

  1. Holding a kettlebell in your left hand, stand with your feet around hip width apart. 
  2. Place your right hand on the back of your head and keep your other arm relaxed down by your side. 
  3. Slowly bend your upper body to the left side so the kettlebell lowers towards the ground. 
  4. You should feel tension down your right side. 
  5. Only go as far as you find it comfortable.
  6. Hold for a second and then return to the start.  
  7. Perform the same number of reps on either side.  

When doing a kettlebell suitcase march your core has to work hard to help you maintain your posture while under load.  

It’s a very functional exercise meaning that it mimics movements that you do in everyday life, like carrying your groceries.  

Aside from helping you build a strong core; it’s also going to improve your forearm and grip strength.  

You can make the exercise more challenging by holding the kettlebell further away from the side of your body or by suspending it from a belt or band.  

How To:

  1. Holding a kettlebell in one hand, stand up tall with your chest up and shoulder blades down and back. 
  2. Keep your free arm out to the side to help with balance. 
  3. Now raise one foot off the ground until your upper leg is parallel to the floor. 
  4. Lower it back down and repeat with the other foot. 
  5. Continue in this marching motion for around 30 to 60 steps and repeat 3 times. 

The Russian twist is a popular ab exercise which is great for working your entire core.  

A common mistake with this exercise is only moving your arms from side to side without twisting your upper body.  

kettlbell russian twist

How To:

  1. Sit down on the ground while holding a kettlebell by the handlebars just in front of your chest. 
  2. With a slight bend to your knees, keep your heels planted.
  3. Lean back slightly to keep tension on your core muscles.  
  4. From here, twist your torso to the right-hand side going as far as you can.  Make sure you keep the kettlebell held to your chest throughout. 
  5. Slowly return to the start and then twist in the opposite direction. 

The dead bug is a great core stability exercise and when you incorporate a kettlebell this increases the tension on your abs.  

It’s often performed as a body weight exercise in a rehab setting for people who are suffering from low back pain.  

However, the benefits of it make it one of the best kettlebell exercises for boosting core strength and stability.  

How To:

  1. Start off by sitting on the ground while holding a kettlebell upside down in both hands. 
  2. Lie back and raise both legs off the ground to form a tabletop position.  Your lower legs should be parallel with the ground. 
  3. Raise your head and shoulders off the ground and extend the dumbbell straight up and overhead. 
  4. Slowly extend your right leg out stopping just before it touches the floor. 
  5. Bring it back to the start then do the same with your left leg. 
  6. Keep alternating this way until you’ve completed your reps. 

This exercise is really going to fire up your quads while building strength to your hip flexors.  

You’ll also be using a lot of core strength to raise your legs up and over the kettlebell.  

This exercise is especially good for increasing strength to your lower abs.  

If you’re new to the exercise start with your upper body in an upright position.  

As you get stronger, lean your torso back slightly for better core activation.  

How To:

  1. Sit down on the ground with your legs extended out in front of you. 
  2. Place a kettlebell just beside your left knee.  
  3. With your hands either side of your hips, raise both legs off the ground taking them over the kettlebell.
  4. Stop just before your heels touch the ground and move back to the start. 
  5. Keep moving in this way without letting your feet drop to the floor. 

The Turkish get up is one of the most challenging kettlebell exercises that works many muscle groups.  

It’s a full body exercise that involves going from the floor to a standing position while holding a kettlebell overhead.  

It’s a great way to test how your muscles work together to coordinate the entire movement and was made popular by Turkish wrestlers who found it helpful to improve their grappling skills.  

When doing a Turkish get up it’s important to perform it as a series of steps rather than one quick and fluid movement.  

How To:

  1. Lie down on the floor with your legs extended. 
  2. Bend your right knee and keep your right foot flat on the ground.  
  3. Holding a kettlebell in your right hand, raise this straight up overhead.  
  4. Keep your left arm on the floor and out to the side. 
  5. With your right foot staying on the floor, drive the kettlebell up towards the ceiling by lifting your upper body.  At this point you should be resting on your left elbow and looking up at the kettlebell. 
  6. Raise yourself up further until you’re resting on your left hand.  Keep looking at the kettlebell. 
  7. Dig your left heel into the ground then push your hips away from the floor. 
  8. Move your left foot under you and place it behind you. You’ll now be resting on your left knee and left foot. 
  9. Straighten up your upper body until you’re in a kneeling position. 
  10. Now stand all the way up with your eyes still trained on the kettlebell. 
  11. To return back to the starting position, reverse the steps. 

The plank pull through combines elements of a traditional plank exercise with a dynamic movement using a kettlebell.  

It will help to develop good core strength, shoulder strength and stability while engaging the muscles in your arms, chest and back.  

Start with a weight that allows you to perform the exercise with good technique and gradually increase the difficulty as you become more comfortable with the movement.

How To:

  1. Start off by getting into a high plank position so that your body forms a straight line from your head to heels.  Make sure the kettlebell is positioned just to the left of you next to your waist.  
  2. Brace your core and take your right arm underneath you to grab hold of the kettlebell handle. 
  3. From here, drag it to the opposite side of your body without letting your lower back arch.
  4. Repeat the movement but use your left arm and drag the kettlebell back to the other side. 

The kettlebell north to south plank is another variation of the standard plank that involves using a kettlebell to add an element of instability and challenge to your core and shoulder muscles.

As well as working your abs, it will also help to improve balance and coordination.

How To:

  1. Get into a high plank position and keep your feet past a shoulder width distance.  This will help with your balance as you perform the exercise.  
  2. Both hands should be directly under your shoulders, and you should be holding the kettlebell with one hand. 
  3. Maintain a stable core and extend your arm to move the kettlebell downwards. 
  4. Move your arm in the opposite direction extending your arm straight out in front of you, touch the floor with the kettlebell. 
  5. Continue moving the kettlebell north and south for the desired number of reps. 
  6. Do the same number of reps using the other arm. 

The renegade row is another challenging exercise where your abs and other core muscles have to work incredibly hard to help you maintain the proper position as you do the movement.  

But persevere with it as it’s one of the most effective exercises for your kettlebell abs workout.  

As it’s a very technical exercise, you don’t need to go for a heavier weight.  

Stick to lighter kettlebells and concentrate on keeping your form.  

How To:

  1. Begin by placing two kettlebells of the same weight on the ground and close together.  
  2. Kneel down and take hold of one kettlebell using a neutral grip, make sure it stays on the ground.  Keep your other hand flat on the floor. 
  3. Get yourself into a high plank position, keeping your spine neutral with your core and glutes engaged.  
  4. Widen your feet a little more if you find it difficult to balance. 
  5. Take hold of the other kettlebell with your free hand.  Both hands should be under your shoulders.  
  6. Keeping your hips in a fixed position row one kettlebell straight up. 
  7. Lower back down and repeat with the other arm. 
  8. Keeping alternating in this way until you’ve completed your reps.  

When it comes to the weight of the kettlebell many people often overestimate how heavy they need to go, especially men.  

Many kettlebell workouts include full body exercises so there’s no need to opt for a heavier kettlebell.

If you’re a male and new to kettlebell training, then start out with a 12kg kettlebell.  

This may sound light, but it will help you develop strength, coordination, and skills to perform kettlebell exercises with proper form.  

As your strength and stability improves a good intermediate weight to move up to is a 16kg kettlebell.  

It’s common for females to start out with kettlebells that are a little too light.  

However, to get the most benefit from your training you’ll want to perform exercises with a 6kg kettlebell before progressing to an 8kg kettlebell.  

When it comes to choosing the right weight for you, always listen to your body when working out.

If it feels uncomfortable with too much stress on your joints, drop to a lower weight.  

One of the main benefits of kettlebell workouts is they provide a full body workout to help make your muscles stronger and improve your cardiovascular health. 

Aside from just working your abs, regular kettlebell training works multiple muscle groups offering several other benefits.  

Let’s look at these below:

  • Improves aerobic Capacity which can boost energy levels and endurance.  
  • Improves explosive Strength for better athletic performance and agility.  
  • Increases strength and power to other lifting styles such as powerlifting and weightlifting.
  • Increases fat burning by elevating your heart rate to burn more calories.   

Now that we’ve gone over some of the best exercises to target your abs with your kettlebell, let’s put some of them together for a beginner friendly workout.  

Before giving it a go, remember to warm up for a few minutes by doing something like jumping jacks or jogging on the spot to get your blood pumping.  

  1. Kettlebell Russian Twist – Perform as many reps as possible for 30 to 45 seconds then rest for 30 seconds.  Complete 3 sets. 
  2. Kettlebell Halo To Chest Press – Complete 3 sets of 20 repetitions.
  3. Kettlebell Side Bends – Do as many reps as you can for 30 seconds on both sides.  Repeat 3 times.  
  4. Seated Leg Raise Over Kettlebell – Perform 10 to 15 reps for 3 sets.  

Final Thoughts

By performing our recommended kettlebell ab exercises in this article, you can strengthen your core helping to improve things like low back pain and poor posture.  

It’s important to remember that your core is the very foundation of your body and when it’s strong and well developed, you’ll notice that it’s easier to perform everyday activities. 

Leave a Reply