Core exercises don’t need to be bodyweight-only, and this quick kettlebell abs workout proves that adding resistance to the mix can be a great way to challenge those all-important muscles.
In this video, the fifth installment of Sweat With SELF’s new Kettlebells series, you’ll complete a 20-minute core workout that’s focused on your rectus abdominis (the muscles that run vertically along the front of your abdomen) and your obliques (the muscles along the sides of your abdomen). Lee Jimenez, a certified kettlebell level 1 instructor and ACE-certified personal trainer, and ACE-certified personal trainer Tiffany Ragozzino will take you through the routine, which includes three rounds of four kettlebell exercises.
After a quick warm-up, where you’ll get the blood flowing throughout your body with exercises like the cat-cow, bird-dog, and plank walk-out, you’ll get into your abs workout. You’ll complete each exercise—the single-arm assisted sit-up, Russian twist, plank pull-through, and side-bend/windmill progression—for 45 seconds, resting for 15 before going right to the next move. After all four exercises are finished, you’ll rest for 60 seconds before starting again from the top.
These kettlebell core exercises help you build both strength and stability in your rectus abdominis and your obliques through motions like rotating or flexing (say, when you’re performing the Russian twist or sit-up) as well as through resisting movement (like when you’re keeping your body steady during the plank pull-through). Working all of the functions of your core is important in any strength training routine, since it better mimics the actions of your core in everyday life—which is super important for injury prevention.
Throughout the course of this workout, you’ll be encouraged to progress at your own pace and build ownership of these moves. In the first round, for instance, try to familiarize yourself with the movement patterns and get more comfortable performing them. The second round builds on that—to do so, you’ll sub in a windmill progression in place of the side bend—and the third round really encourages you to give it all you’ve got.
Choose your kettlebell wisely for these moves—you don’t want to go too heavy, which can cause your form to falter and over-stress related muscles, like your lower back. A light to moderate weight kettlebell will likely be your best bet. (For more information on how to choose the best kettlebell for you, check out our introduction to kettlebells video.)
Ready to light up your core? Grab a kettlebell, block off 20 minutes, and give this kettlebell abs workout a try.