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7 Best Kettlebell Exercises for Abs and Kettlebell Core Workout

By Greg Brookes
7 Best Kettlebell Exercises for Abs and Kettlebell Core Workout

There are many kettlebell exercises for abs, some are designed specifically for the abs whereas others affect the abs indirectly.

When choosing kettlebell abdominal exercises it is important to ensure that you don’t leave your abs totally exhausted before performing a workout where you will need your abs to protect your spine.

So as a general rule ensure that you complete your specific kettlebell abs exercises at the end of your workout.

Below are my list of favourite kettlebell exercises for abs along with a kettlebell abs workout suggestion:

7 Kettlebell Exercises for Abs

  1. Kettlebell Turkish Get Up
  2. Kettlebell Windmills
  3. Kettlebell Sit and Press
  4. Kettlebell Straight Arm Sit
  5. Kettlebell Plank Row or Renegade Row
  6. Kettlebell Deck Squat
  7. Kettlebell Lateral Swings

Below I’ve broken each exercise down into more detail including images and videos:

1 – Kettlebell Turkish Get Up

Kettlebell Turkish Get Up Exercise for core
Kettlebell Turkish Get Up Exercise

The Turkish Get Up is one of the most important kettlebell exercises for core muscles that you can perform. Not only is it a full body exercise but it also helps to improve your mobility and stability of your joints as you perform the movement.

Getting good at the Turkish Get Up in the early stages of your kettlebell training will help you protect your body against future injury

The abs get targeted through various stages of the Turkish Get Up but in particular during the 1st few phases as you sit up from the lying down position, a great kettlebell obliques movement. The kettlebell beginner can practice this 1st phase by just sitting up along the arm and then lying back down again.

Pay particular attention to the extended leg, you must keep the heel on the floor. Lifting the heel from the floor as you sit up means that you are using your hip flexors too much rather than your abs.

Also ensure that as you come back down from the seated position that you lie down slowly using your abs to resist the downward movement.

Here’s a video demonstrating the first half of the Turkish Get Up:

Related: Ultimate Guide to the Turkish Get Up

2 – Kettlebell Windmills

Kettlebell Windmill Exercise for Obliques
Kettlebell Windmill Exercise

Kettlebell Windmills are another good all over body exercise using the kettlebell. Just like the Turkish Get Up they primarily improve your mobility and stability of your shoulders, and hips.

Getting good at the Windmill will help improve your hip mobility by loosening off your hamstrings and will also help mobilise and strengthen your shoulders.

The Windmill is a great kettlebell ab workout. In particular it’s a great kettlebell obliques exercise as the obliques get targeted as you rotate your body during the downward movement as well as when you return to the upright position.

The Windmill is a slow exercise so take your time, 5 seconds or more is a standard tempo for the exercise. Work on getting deep into the movement as you progress and keep that core nice and tight throughout the movement.

Related: Master the Kettlebell Windmill with 4 Logical Progressions

3 – Kettlebell Sit and Press

Kettlebell Sit and Press Exercise for abs
Kettlebell Sit and Press Exercise

I’ve used this kettlebell ab exercise a lot during my kettlebell classes, and it is one of those great kettlebell abs exercises for beginners because it is similar to a kettlebell sit up or kettlebell crunch but far better.

Not only will the abs get targeted throughout the movement but it also improves mobility through the hips and strengthens the shoulders. In fact most people really enjoy the shoulder workout that they get from this exercise.

10 best kettlebell workouts

The exercise starts with you lying flat on your back holding the kettlebell in both hands, you then sit up and press the kettlebell overhead. Try to combine the overhead press with the sitting movement.

Heels should stay firmly on the floor and legs are kept straight.

The 2nd half of the exercise on the way down is when you can really focus on those abs. Keep the abs tight and lower back to the floor slowly.

A good 5+ second descent is excellent.

Discover more: 7 floor based kettlebell core exercises

4 – Kettlebell Straight Arm Sit

Kettlebell Straight Arm Sit Core Exercise
Kettlebell Straight Arm Sit Exercise

The Kettlebell Straight Arm Sit is the natural progression on from the Sit and Press above.

The movement is very similar except the kettlebell is held in one hand only and the arm is kept straight throughout the kettlebell abs exercise.

Due to the extended arm the shoulder has to work hard to stabilise and the abs must work hard too due to the long lever.

Try to keep the arm vertical throughout the abdominal exercise.

Leaning the arm into the movement as you sit up will give you a mechanical advantage and you will notice yourself doing this as you get tired….this is the time to stop!

Learn more: 7 overhead static kettlebell exercises for injury-free shoulders

5 – Kettlebell Plank Row or Renegade Row

Kettlebell Renegade Row Exercise
Kettlebell Renegade Row Exercise

You can get a lot done using just this one kettlebell exercise. One of the great advantages is the ability to perform a horizontal row and work the back muscles (rhomboids especially).

The horizontal row is one of the movements that often gets neglected with kettlebell training but it is important to counteract all the sitting that so many of us do these days.

Performed  correctly the abs get a massive workout with this exercise.

It is important that you can perform a good ‘plank exercise’ before you progress onto this kettlebell ab exercise.

10 best kettlebell workouts

The main abdominal benefits come from preventing the hips from falling to the floor during the movement. If your hips fall too low then your back muscles will be over utilised so ensure you keep those hips up and core muscles tight.

As you row the kettlebell up and down your abs will also have to fight the rotation that is being caused by being supported by just one arm. This is tough on the shoulder just as much as it is on the core muscles.

Start with a very light kettlebell to begin and master the movement before increasing the weight.

Related: Master the renegade row with 5 progressions for beginners

6 – Kettlebell Deck Squat

Kettlebell Deck Squat Exercise
Kettlebell Deck Squat Exercise

I really like this kettlebell exercise and it’s one that many people have never seen or tried before.

The deck squat involves a regular deep squat followed by a bridge and then a sit up and stand.

You will need very good hip mobility in order to stand up from the hip bridge but the momentum of the kettlebell will certainly help you.

There are so many muscles used during this movement but the abs are definitely used during the bridge and sit up part of the movement. Practice should start with a very light kettlebell or even a medicine ball to start with.

You will actually find that this kettlebell exercise is easier using a weight than trying it without due to the momentum that it gives during the standing part of the movement.

Related: 7 Kettlebell Squats You Need to Know

7 – Kettlebell Lateral Swings

Kettlebell Lateral Swings Exercise
Kettlebell Lateral Swings Exercise

This is an advanced kettlebell exercise that is based upon the regular swing but the movement goes sideways rather then forwards and backwards.

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to become a real expert at the regular kettlebell swing before moving onto this exercise.

Without good technique and form you risk hitting your knee with the kettlebell as it comes across the body so be super careful.

If however, you do get to the stage when you can comfortably perform this exercise you will get some huge ab and oblique muscle benefits from performing the movement.

The Lateral Swing takes the kettlebell across the body thus rotating the midsection this then requires good core strength to both brake the movement at the top of the swing and then once again at the bottom of the swing.

Like with all exercise start off light and then build up to a heavier resistance as you master the movement and the body is better able to cope with the exercise.

Related: 4 Steps to Master the Kettlebell Swing for Beginners

Related: 7 Kettlebell Swing Workouts in Under 10 Minutes

Other Kettlebell Ab Exercises

Although these are 7 of my favourite kettlebell exercises for abs there are many more.

The Kettlebell Swing, Clean, Snatch and Pistol Squat are all core intensive.

Your core and abs fundamentally attach your pelvis to your ribcage so any exercise that involves bending or extending at the hips will require good core control.

With kettlebell training being mostly full body movements the abs are used in practically all exercises that is one of the great benefits of using kettlebells but can ultimately be your downfall if you core/abs are not strong enough and able to deal with the load.

It is for this reason that you should always build up your kettlebell training slowly and allow your core muscles to develop along with everything else.

Related: 5 reasons to avoid the kettlebell Russian twist

Kettlebell Core Workout

Now I have listed the best kettlebell ab exercises let’s look at how we can put them together into a kettlebell core workout.

Begin by choosing 2 – 4 of the kettlebell core exercises below:

  • Kettlebell Turkish Get Up
  • Kettlebell Windmills
  • Kettlebell Sit and Press
  • Kettlebell Straight Arm Sit
  • Kettlebell Renegade Row
  • Kettlebell Deck Squat
  • Kettlebell Lateral Swings

Next, put them together into a circuit like this:

  1. Turkish Get Up (5 reps each side)
  2. Renegade Row (5 reps each side)
  3. Deck Squat (10 reps)

I’ve included some sample repetition numbers above but you can alter these depending on your goals. Higher reps for endurance and lower for strength. For most people 5 – 12 reps should be good.

Once you have completed the kettlebell ab workout you can rest for 60 seconds and then repeat for a total of 2 – 4 circuits.

Remember, if you are adding this circuit to an existing workout then only perform intense core workouts at the end of your workout. Performing core exercises at the beginning of another workout can over-fatigue your core muscles which are required to stabilise your spine.

With the above 7 exercises you should now be able to design lots of your own kettlebell workouts for your abs.


I hope you have enjoyed these 7 kettlebell ab exercises along with the kettlebell core workout suggestions.

Kettlebells unlike many other training tools are most effective when used to target the full body rather than just individual muscles. Therefore, these kettlebell core exercises will not only develop beautiful core muscles but also strengthen the rest of your body too.

Enjoy your new abs!

Have you tried these kettlebell exercises for your abs? Which one is your favourite?

10 best kettlebell workouts


Are kettlebells good for abs?

Kettlebells are one of the best tools for strengthening your abdominal muscles because they involve a lot of dynamic movements that require stabilisation by the core muscles.

Are kettlebells good for losing belly fat?

Kettlebell exercises are excellent for intense full-body workouts, to build strength and muscle tone, burn calories and help you get rid of your belly fat. They should always be combined with a balanced diet if you’re aiming for weight loss.

What are the best kettlebell exercises?

This always depends on your physical attributes and your goals. Kettlebell swings, goblet squats and the Turkish get up are great exercises.

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    1. Hunter Avatar

      Hi there,

      Excited about finding your videos. I just got a kettle bell today. I intend to use it for strengthening my core to get in shape for surfing. I slipped L5/S1 2 years ago. Do you have any rec’s for do’s and dont’s to avoid possibly worsening any problematic discs? I plan to consult my physician but wanted to check with you as well.

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Hello Hunter, you will need to be very careful with the hip hinge movement pattern, the swing and deadlifts could cause you issues. As you mentioned, take some professional advice from your Osteo.

    2. Bill Avatar

      Hey Greg. Have you ever seen the “other” version of the windmill that’s performed from the knees? It looks like the “middle” of a get up in reverse. So you go from the knees to your hand with the bell overhead keeping a straight line with your overhead hand and your planted hand. Just curious. Seems like it would be a good progression type of exercise.

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Yes Bill, I’ve used that section of the Reverse Get Up many times. You need to keep your glutes activated to avoid overextending your lower back.

    3. Jaki Avatar

      I’ve just started exercising after 3 years being in a leg cast following 6 lots of ankle surgeries….I’ve searched the Internet for clear reading exercises and found this website to be the easiest to follow plus it explains what muscles are being used and what group of people it will suit plus videos and pictures…..I’m looking forward to seeing good results…I like i can do all these exercises in my own home….thank you. ..

    4. Mark Avatar

      Great article Greg, will try them out today esp no.6!

    5. Linette Lashly Avatar
      Linette Lashly

      I’m a Kettle bell instructor and want to thank Greg for the excellent exercises as well as the detailed Instruction. You detail to safety and form have never led me astray. Your videos are precise and detailed as well. Thank you for sharing your expertise.

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        My pleasure Linette, just let me know if I can help you with anything.

    6. Cheryl Rodriguez Avatar
      Cheryl Rodriguez

      Great …. Ty…. Great videos!

    7. Diane Avatar

      Thank you for showing me some new exercises to try with my workout .I can’t wait to try these.

    8. Kell Avatar

      Some great new kettle bell exercises! I look forward to trying them out!

    9. J Avatar

      Very useful. I did not try any kettlebell exercises so far but I have every intention of doing it. Thank you so much

    10. Robin Mondor Avatar
      Robin Mondor

      I love the addition of my kettlebell to my workouts. Your video’s are awesome.