3 Kettlebell Moves That Will Shred Your Abs, Straight From 2 Trainers
We're going to start off by telling you this: when it comes to getting your six-pack abs, you can do a million planks, Russian twists, and TRX knee tucks, but if you aren't watching what you eat, you won't see results. NASM-certified personal trainer Lacee Lazoff, who specializes in kettlebells, wanted to stress the fact that diet is the most important thing.
So, Are Kettlebells Good For Abs?
Kettlebells are, though, one of the best strengthening tools for abs, Lacee said, because they're often racked close to the body, which forces the core to work hard, especially as the weight gets heavy. "Big picture: your core will never stop working when using kettlebells, no matter what the movement," she stated, since most exercises require core stability.
Vincent Metzo, LMT, CSCS, dean of advanced personal training at the Swedish Institute of Health Sciences and the director of education for Kettlebell Concepts in New York City, similarly said that the majority of kettlebell exercises are total-body moves, but are great for training the core. "[The] dynamic nature of kettlebell exercises makes them particularly effective for stabilizing the trunk [aka, core] during movements," he said. Vincent, who also has a master's in exercise physiology and fitness management, added that kettlebells create more inertia than using dumbbells or other weights, meaning they're harder to get moving, so there's more resistance. He and Lacee both agreed on three moves that work your abs:
- Kettlebell swings
- Kettlebell carries
- Turkish get-up
Ahead, check out how to do these three moves, plus bonus exercises from each trainer and a kettlebell Class FitSugar video at the end. Note: the moves themselves are not a workout. Pick and choose which ones to add to your next sweat session to get that core burning. (We'll have the fire extinguisher ready.)
Lacee noted that you should be choosing the heaviest kettlebell weight possible while maintaining proper form.
- Stand with your feet wider than hips-width apart, toes slightly pointing out. Squat down, and hold a kettlebell with both hands between your legs. Make sure your back is flat and your abs are engaged.
- As you inhale, press into your feet and explode up, straightening your legs and swinging the kettlebell in front so your hands are in line with your shoulders. For a more advance version, swing the kettlebell up overhead.
- Exhale, and with control, come back to the starting position, allowing the kettlebell to swing back between your legs.
- This counts as one rep.
- Want a challenge? Lacee suggested doing these for 10 minutes total. On the minute mark, do 10 to 15 swings and use the remaining time to rest.
Bottoms-Up Kettlebell Carry
Vincent named bottoms-up kettlebell carries as another move that will benefit your core, since you have to keep it engaged the whole time. Lacee suggested trying these suitcase-style. See directions for bottoms-up carries below.
- Start with a lightweight kettlebell in your right arm.
- Lift your arm up, turning the kettlebell upside down and creating a 90-degree angle at your elbow. Be sure to keep your wrist straight. If you notice that your wrist is moving, use a lighter kettlebell.
- From here, begin walking forward. Take 20 steps forward or walk for 20 feet, depending on the space available.
- Switch the kettlebell to your left hand and walk back to your starting point.
Both trainers named this move as a total-body exercise that requires core stability. Lacee specifically said that the abs "work overtime to support the kettlebell overhead, while moving from the ground to a standing position and back down. If you could only learn one movement with a bell to build core strength, the Turkish get-up is it." Vincent said it requires a great amount of control, as well as force while moving through the positions.
- Begin lying on your back with your right arm pointing toward the ceiling and your right knee bent. Your left arm should be out to the side and a little lower than your shoulder.
- Keep your eyes on your right hand, and come to sitting without lowering your right arm. Lean onto your left hand to prepare you for your next move.
- Press down into your left hand to lift your pelvis off the ground. Keep your eyes trained on your right hand.
- Shoot your left leg backward, putting weight on your left knee, which you should place directly under your left hip. Your arms should be in a straight line with left hand on the floor and right hand toward the ceiling. You are bent to the left, but your eyes will still be focusing on the right hand.
- Push off the floor with your left hand, so your torso is upright. Keep looking up at your right hand.
- Come to standing. Bring left leg forward to meet the right.
- Reverse the sequence to return to starting position on floor.
- Per Lacee's suggestion, do five reps with your right arm up, then switch sides.
If you need further instructions, check out this video.
Vincent named high-pulls as one of the best kettlebell exercises for "activating the trunk muscles, burning calories, and training dynamic stability." It's important to note that a strong core equals a strong back and helps prevent injury.
- Stand with feet wide, toes turned out, hinged forward at the hips, holding a kettlebell with your both hands, palm facing in.
- Stand, bending both arms up, wide, and to the side to pull the kettlebell up toward your chin. Return to the ground for one rep. We suggest doing at least six reps as one set.
- For a more continuous move, Vincent said to do 15 to 20 reps, bringing the kettlebell just below the knees instead to the ground. There's less range of motion here, he said, but it's more dynamic since you don't need to pause in between each rep (when the kettlebell is on the floor).
You can find an example of single-arm high-pulls here.
Lacee said to use the heaviest possible weight that doesn't compromise your form.
- Stand with your feet wider than shoulder width with your toes pointed slightly out. Hold your kettlebell at chest level with both hands. Keeping your back flat, push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor and your elbows touch your knees.
- With your weight focused on your heels, push yourself up to the starting position to complete one rep.
- Lacee suggested doing these as a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 ladder sequence, starting at 10. Rest in between sets for 30 seconds to a minute.
For a challenge, try these front-racked squats Lacee posted on her Instagram, which she said leave her out of breath every time.
Abs, Arms, and Legs: This 20-Minute Kettlebell Workout Targets It All
This intense kettlebell workout from trainer Yumi Lee will work every part of your body — so get ready to get your sweat on.
Equipment needed: kettlebell (20 pounds or less)