The Only Six Kettlebell Exercises for Ripped Six-pack Abs You’ll Ever Need, Says a Top PT

kettlebell exercises for abs
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Many people are always looking for new exercises to develop sculpted six-pack abs. If that’s you, these six kettlebell exercises for abs are a must-try. They’ll challenge your core, balance, and stability and most importantly, work your abs like never before.

The kettlebell has been around for a long time. In fact, it’s thought that the kettlebell may have first been used in Russia in the 1700s.

Since then, kettlebells have gradually grown in popularity (1). There are now tons of certifications for teaching kettlebell moves, and millions of people around the world use these weights every day.

Interestingly, kettlebells are often thought of as better tools than sit-ups (and other traditional ab exercises) to build a strong core (2).

For this reason, I want to outline a few of my favorite kettlebell exercises that will set your core on fire!

The Six Best Kettlebell Exercises for Abs

The Six Best Kettlebell Exercises for Abs

Add these six kettlebell exercises for abs to your workout to strengthen your core and shape your abs.

You’ll also like:

The Only Ab Exercises You’ll Ever Need for Six-Pack Abs, According to Science

The Only 7 Exercises You’ll Ever Need to Tone Your Abs and Build Core Strength

Kettlebell Exercise #1: Kettlebell Pull-Throughs

Kettlebell Pull-Throughs

The kettlebell is extremely elegant in its simplicity. Truly, it’s just a small weighted ball with a handle on top. 

But because of its simple, durable shape, we can perform hundreds of different moves that work muscles throughout the whole body.

The kettlebell pull-through is an exercise that emphasizes the shoulders, arms, and, of course, the core.

How to Perform

  • Assume a pushup position, with the kettlebell sitting just slightly to the outside of your right hand.
  • Reach your left hand underneath your trunk, grab the kettlebell, and pull it across the ground, placing it on the outside of your left hand.
  • Then, repeat this move on the other side.
  • Complete 10 reps on each side for 3 sets per session. Perform 3 sessions per week.

Kettlebell Exercise #2: Weighted Oblique Twists

Weighted Oblique Twists

This exercise is sometimes referred to as the “Russian” twist. 

Whatever you call it, get ready for your obliques to be screaming by the end of the workout!

How to Perform

  • Sit on the floor, with the kettlebell held comfortably in both hands.
  • Raise your feet off of the floor and balance on your buttocks, with your back as straight as possible. 
  • Keeping the kettlebell centered on your trunk, twist to the left, aiming to tap the weight to the floor, if possible.
  • Then, twist all the way to the right side and attempt to tap the floor again.
  • Repeat for 20 reps on each side for 3 sets per session. Complete this workout 3 times per week.

Kettlebell Exercise #3: One Arm Overhead Press

One Arm Overhead Press

Truth be told, this is a fairly advanced kettlebell move. Therefore, if you feel shaky on your form, be sure to use a light weight when you first try it. 

Once you master it, however, you’ll torch your whole body and get an awesome pump.

How to Perform

  • In standing, place a kettlebell in between your feet.
  • Bend your knees slightly and grasp the kettlebell with your right hand.
  • Using your whole body, but primarily your legs, power the weight up to your right shoulder and rack it there momentarily.
  • Next, press the weight toward the ceiling.
  • Reverse the motion and repeat for 10-12 reps on both sides, for 3 sets per session. Perform 3 sessions per week.

Kettlebell Exercise #4: Farmer’s Carry

There’s no doubt about it: farmers work extremely hard every day. Their jobs are so labor intensive that we can even model some key exercises after movements they perform on a daily basis.

The farmer’s carry is very simple but very effective.

How to Perform

  • Hold one kettlebell in each hand.
  • Walk for 50 feet, turn around and walk back to the starting point.
  • Repeat for 10 laps per set and 3 sets per session. Complete 3 sessions per week.

Kettlebell Exercise #5: Overhead Famer’s Walk

This exercise is simply a harder variation on the traditional farmer’s carry. The overhead farmer’s walk adds in a new element of shoulder and core muscle activation. However, this version does not emphasize grip strength as much as the traditional variation does.

How to Perform

  • Hold one kettlebell in each hand and press them straight up toward the ceiling.
  • From here, walk 50 feet, turn around and walk back to the starting point. 
  • Complete 10 reps per set and 3 sets per session. Perform 3 sessions per week.

Kettlebell Exercise #6: Windmills

Windmills

Much like the single-arm overhead press, windmills are an advanced exercise. Therefore, the same disclaimer applies: start with light weight!

How to Perform

  • In standing, place your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
  • Hold a kettlebell in your right hand.
  • Twist slightly to the right as you simultaneously side-bend toward the left.
  • Return to standing and perform 10-12 reps per side, per set. Complete 3 sets per session for 3 sessions per week.

A Quick Word About Kettlebell Safety

If you’ve never used kettlebells before, there are a few major points you should keep in mind:

  • Take your time. Some of the moves performed with a kettlebell require tons of coordination and strength. Don’t be frustrated if you don’t get it right away!
  • Start light. You can always add weight, but if you get injured because you started too heavy, you’ll have a long road ahead of you. Go light and be cautious when starting out; the heavier weights will come in time.
  • Warm up first. Before hitting the kettlebell workout, take at least 10 minutes to get the blood pumping throughout your body. Remember: kettlebells are a total body implement.

Now, you’re ready to try out your first kettlebell workout! Have fun!

Works Cited

  1. Meigh, N. J., Keogh, J. W. L., Schram, B., & Hing, W. A. (2019). Kettlebell training in clinical practice: a scoping review. BMC sports science, medicine & rehabilitation11, 19. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13102-019-0130-z
  2. Vancini, R. L., Andrade, M. S., Rufo-Tavares, W., Zimerer, C., Nikolaidis, P. T., & de Lira, C. A. B. (2019). Kettlebell Exercise as an Alternative to Improve Aerobic Power and Muscle Strength. Journal of human kinetics66, 5–6. https://doi.org/10.2478/hukin-2018-0062

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Bennett Richardson, DPT, PT, CSCS

Bennett Richardson is a physical therapist and writer out of Pittsburgh, PA. He has maintained certification as a strength and conditioning coach (CSCS) since 2014. He then went on to earn a BS in exercise science and a doctorate degree in physical therapy, both from Slippery Rock University. In his free time, Bennett likes to read and exercise.

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