Doing kettlebell ab exercises is one of the best ways to get a strong, functional, and shredded core.
Not only will these ab exercises help you get a defined core, but these kettlebell ab exercises also strengthen your posterior chain, promote healthy posture, and help provide you with an overall aesthetic physique.
Not only do they build the “mirror muscles” of your abdominal region, but also your lower back, the stabilizing muscles around your spine, and your glute muscles.
Contrary to doing traditional situps or crunches, kettlebell core exercises also help you develop lean muscle mass throughout your body (depending on the exercise you choose), which increases your basal metabolic rate. I promise, when you use these core exercises, you will notice the difference!
The 7 Best Kettlebell Abs Exercises
Here are the seven best kettlebell core exercises:
Kettlebell Dead Bug Exercise
Kettlebell dead bugs are a great kettlebell core exercise because they are very easy to learn how to do and very effective.
For beginners, I would suggest performing sets of 10-15 reps per side without any weight at all.
Even without weight, nearly everyone can experience significant improvements in their core muscles from becoming better at the dead bug exercise!
Your “abs” will be forced to contract with each movement performed, building that “6 pack” look as well as strength and stability!
Don’t worry about trying to go to heavy with this, form is always number one!
In the variation that I have shown here, I am using 2 different kettlebell weights! This is an advanced version of the movement since the kettlebells themselves force you to control your body more.
The differing weights throw off your stability and make this a very challenging exercise!
Check out this video of me performing the kettlebell dead bug exercise:
Kettlebell Windmill Exercise
Although it certainly looks unique and challenging, the kettlebell windmill is an exercise that we all can use to get better at.
Far too often people base their “ab” training around crunches, sit-ups, and other flexion/extension ab exercises.
More recent research has proven these exercises to be ineffective at training the whole scope of your body’s core, as well as being potentially dangerous to your back and spine.
If you want to get a strong and well-developed core, the windmill is one kettlebell ab exercise you don’t want to leave out of your training routine!
Check out my friend Pat Ramsey performing the kettlebell windmill as a demonstration below:
The kettlebell windmill exercise is fairly straight-forward after watching the video. Make sure that you start with light enough weights to ensure proper form. As you can see here, Pat is an expert at this movement but still is getting all the same benefits from using light weights, with perfect form.
Benefits of doing the kettlebell windmill in your kettlebell abs workouts include:
- Improving Oblique Strength and Muscle-Definition
- Improving Shoulder Stability
- Developing Glute Strength and Stability
- Developing Your Posterior Chain
Kettlebell swings are probably the most famous kettlebell exercise for abs, and they might be the most effective exercise with a kettlebell for your abs too! The best part about kettlebell swings is that they are very easy to learn.
Kettlebell swings work your entire core, as well as your posterior chain, lower body muscles, and shoulders.
Additionally, kettlebell swings are great for burning calories!
If you are not sure how to do kettlebell swings, check out this video:
Are you familiar with front-rack squats? If you are, double kettlebell squats will be no problem for you. (Heh.)
However, this doesn’t mean that you head straight for a 100-lb kettlebell.
There’s no shame in dominating a light kettlebell in the beginning.
Kettlebell squats are one of the best kettlebell core exercises because your core muscles are forced to work extremely hard to keep your body upright during the squatting motion.
Additionally, since your range of motion isn’t restricted (like it is with bars), there’s less risk of overloading your spine and joints.
Kettlebell squats are an excellent exercise for building lower body and core strength, while also challenging the stabilizing muscles of your upper body.
Overall, kettlebell squats are definitely one of the best kettlebell exercises for your core!
Kettlebell Overhead Press
If you want to turn heads in a fraction of a second, overhead presses with kettlebells will make you do just that (especially if you’re using MarcyPro’s 55lb Hammertone kettlebell).
The kettlebell overhead press will activate you:
- Forearm/Grip Strength
- Upper Pecs
It is a tremendous upper body and core exercise, and it is fairly easy to learn.
For a simple explanation, you can perform the KB overhead press by standing in an athletic position and performing an overhead press as you would with a barbell or dumbbells.
Remember to engage your lats and core muscles as well.
Most people don’t realize that overhead exercises are actually great core exercises as well. However, they are! Doing heavy kettlebell overhead presses will absolutely help you get great abdominal muscles!
Kettlebell Turkish Get-Ups
Kettlebell Turkish get-ups are a phenomenal core exercise that will make your total body stronger every time you o them.
According to a study published in Human Kinetics Journal,
“The origins of the turkish get up (TGU) can be traced over 200 years to Turkish wrestling training. Before allowing a wrestler to proceed to the next stage of training, he was required to get up from the ground nimbly, while holding a kettlebell overhead and maintaining control.”
The kettlebell Turkish get-up is one of the best exercises you can do for building strength, coordination, and movement function.
As stated by a study published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal,
“Because this total body movement offers a unique challenge to core and upper-body stability with lower-body dynamic movement, it can be implemented into most strength and conditioning programs.”
Even doing light kettlebell turkish get-ups will help define your abdominal muscles, but if you can do heavy kettlebell turkish get-ups, you better believe you will have a great core!
Kettlebell Renegade Rows – Plank Rows
You’ve probably heard of planks, made plans to conquer them, and then you just crushed planks like they were nothing.
If you think you are ready to try the most challenging kettlebell ab exercise, get ready for kettlebell renegade rows.
Renegade rows are perfect because you are doing a full-body plank while rowing a kettlebell. It is a powerful force that zaps your energy fast!
Plank rows stimulate muscles in your core that you probably did not know you have!
What is the Best Kettlebell Ab Workout?
If you want to do a complete kettlebell ab workout, you can simply combine these exercises however you want and challenge yourself according to your current abilities. Alternatively, you can follow a designed workout program that utilizes these kettlebell ab exercises.
If you prefer following along with a designed workout program, I suggest you first try Ready for Anything: Kettlebell Workouts on BodyFit by Bodybuilding.com. This is actually a three-part series that you can receive access to by subscribing to the BodyFit by Bodybuilding.com service.
Ready for Anything: Kettlebell Workouts are an awesome series of kettlebell ab workouts that will help you build a strong and shredded core!
Read Next: Best Alternatives to Crunches