7 Best Ab Exercises With Kettlebells

Kettlebells are awesome for true core training. Many people think of spinal flexion and extension when it comes to “core training”. From a results perspective, exercises like crunches, sit ups and other forms of spinal flexion and extension are completely dead. Not only will they not help your performance but they will not help build a solid foundation.

True core training should help stabilize and brace the spine for an explosive movement. There is no doubt that having a strong core will help boost your big compound lifts like the squat, deadlift and bench.

Mike Robertson wrote a great article on TNation about the true meaning of core training. In a nutshell core training can be divided into anti-extension exercises,anti-rotation exercises, hip flexion with a neutral spine and anti-lateral flexion. By choosing exercises within these paramaters you will build a strong and powerful core. Here are my top 5 core exercises with kettlebells:

Single Arm Kettlebell Carries

  • Single arm kettlebell carries can be performed in 3 different positions-overhead, rack or suitcase.
  • This is an excellent exercise to improve shoulder stability and core stability and yet another great anti-lateral flexion exercise.
  • Perform this at the end of your workout for 3 sets of 30 yards-10 yards in the overhead position, 10 in the rack and 10 in the suitcase, and then switch arms. You can use the same weight for all 3 positions or increase the weight you use in the rack and suitcase position.

Mixed Kettlebell Carries

  • This exercise offers similar benefits to single arm kettlebell carries except they are a bit more difficult.
  • Use the same paramaters on these as the single arm kettlebell carries and get creative by changing up the position of the kettlebells.

-If you overload one side, make sure you overload the other side to maintain balance.

Kettlebell Windmills 

  • Kettlebell windmills will help improve shoulder mobility and serve as an excellent anti-lateral flexion exercise.
  • Perform it at the end of your workout for 3 sets of 5 reps on each side.

Turkish Get Up

  • Turkish get ups are an awesome exercise because it will help improve both stability in the shoulder and core and mobility in the hips and thoracic spine.
  • Due to the complexity of Turkish get ups I recommend performing them early in your work and also to keep the volume low, 3 X 5 is what I recommend. You do not want to butcher the technique on this exercise, make sure rep 1 looks like rep 5.

Renegade Rows

  • Renegade rows are an awesome bang for your buck exercise because it will help develop strong lats, improve shoulder stability and is also a great anti-rotation core exercise
  • When you perform renegade rows make sure that your midsection doesn’t rotate and that you are staying tight.
  • When you row with your right arm, push the left arm into the ground as this will help maintain a stable midsection.
  • Perform 3-4 sets of 6-10 reps during your upper body workouts.

Kettlebell Suitcase Deadlifts

  • Yet another great anti-lateral flexion exercise.
  • Perform this for 3 sets of 5-8 reps on each side at the end of your workout.

Kettlebell Farmer Walk Series

  • This makes for an awesome finisher to your workout. Heavy kettlebell farmer walks are great to strengthen the upper back, your grip and also anti-lateral flexion. Add in a zig zag route you you also got yourself a great anti-rotation exercise.
  • While farmer walks alone do a great job at addressing the core, the added laps of single kettlebell farmer walks in each hand will really hit your abs.

And there you have it my top 7 ab exercises with kettlebells. Start implementing some of these exercises into your program immediately if you want to build some serious core strength!

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  • Joe,

    Love these exercises. I’ve incorporated these into my off-season workouts and I’ve been more than happy with the results. Great post!


  • Marc, Glad you are digging these exercises 🙂 Keep the feedback coming!!