kettlebell exercises for core
Fitness

13 Crucial Kettlebell Exercises for Core

Kettlebells and the core make a great match. When you train with a kettlebell, your body has to work harder to overcome the instability and unique weighting of the resistance. That recruits the muscles of your core to a greater degree than if you were using a dumbbell or other weight. 

So, when you combine a kettlebell with the best core exercises you’ve got a winning combination for a tight, strongly defined core. Here are the 13 best kettlebell exercises for core. 

1. Kettlebell Swing

Muscles Worked

obliques, abdominals, lats, front deltoids, intercostals

Equipment Used 

kettlebell

Step-by-Step How-To 

  1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and a kettlebell held in both hands at arm’s length in front of your body.
  2. From this starting position, hinge at the hips to drop down slightly as you swing the bell down between your legs.
  3. Reverse the motion to bring the weight up to shoulder level.
  4. Lower and repeat.
  5. Do 3 sets of 15 reps.

Tips 

Be sure to use proper form by performing your reps in a fluid, continuous motion; do not round your back; keep your upper body upright. 

2. Goblet Squats

Muscles Worked 

Core muscles, quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings

Equipment Used 

kettlebell

Step-by-Step How-To 

  1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and toes pointed slightly outward. Hold a kettlebell at chest level by the sides of the handle, with palms facing inward.
  2. From this starting position, descend down into a parallel squat.
  3. Push through the heels to return to the start position.
  4. Do 3 sets of 12-15 reps.

Tips 

Maintain an upright body position; push your heels into the floor as you come out of the squat.

3. Turkish Get Up

Muscles Worked

Intercostals, obliques, rectus abdominus, quads, lats, deltoids

Equipment Used 

kettlebell

Step-by-Step How-To 

  1. Lie on the floor on your right side with a kettle bell alongside. Stack your knees and shoulders and bend your knees to a 90 degree angle.
  2. Take hold of the kettlebell with your right hand and pull it to your chest. Then hold it with the left hand also.
  3. Roll onto your back then straighten your left leg, keeping the right leg bent but driving the right foot into the floor.
  4. Press the kettlebell over head so that it is above the right shoulder.
  5. Plant your left hand on the floor, palm down.
  6. Roll onto your left forearm. Straighten your left elbow to bring your body up. Simultaneously lift your hips off the floor. 
  7. Bring your left knee under your left hip to come to a half kneeling position. 
  8. Bring the right leg forward to be in a bottom lunge position. 
  9. Push through the front thigh and hip t rise to a standing position. 
  10. Reverse your movements to return to the seated position.
  11. Do 3 sets of 5 reps.
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Tips 

Perform this exercise slowly and deliberately. 

4. Russian Twist

Muscles Worked

internal obliques, external obliques, intercostals, rectus abdominus, biceps, 

Equipment Used 

kettlebell

Step-by-Step How-To 

  1. Sit on you butt with a kettlebell held in front of your belly button and your torso slightly arched to form a ‘V’ with your bent knees.
  2. From this starting position, twist to the left and bring the kettlebell down toward the floor.
  3. Return to the start position and repeat.
  4. Do all reps on the left side before repeating on the right side.
  5. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps on each side.

Tips 

Maintain a slight backward lean with an arched back position throughout the movement. 

5. Kettlebell Halo

Muscles Worked

Intercostals, obliques, rectus abdominus, lats, deltoids

Equipment Used 

kettlebell

Step-by-Step How-To 

  1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and a kettlebell held at chest level.
  2. From this starting position, lift the kettlebell overhead.
  3. Rotate the bell around your head in a clockwise circular motion.
  4. Bring it back to your chest level.
  5. Rotate the bell in an anti-clockwise motion.
  6. Perform 3 sets of 8 reps in each direction.

Tips 

Keep your upper body upright, with a neutral spine.

6. Kettlebell Pistol Squat

Muscles Worked 

Core muscles, quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, front deltoid, biceps

Equipment Used 

kettlebell

Step-by-Step How-To 

  1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and a kettlebell held in your right hand at shoulder level.
  2. Raise your left leg to a 45-degree angle.
  3. Descend down into a parallel squat position.
  4. Push through the right heel to return to the start position.
  5. Do 3 sets of 8-10 reps.

Tips 

This is an advanced dynamic movement that requires plenty of balance. Graduate up to it by doing bodyweight pistol squats first’ maintain your center of gravity over your planted foot.

7. Kettlebell Windmill

Muscles Worked

internal obliques, external obliques, intercostals, rectus abdominus

Equipment Used 

kettlebell

Step-by-Step How-To 

  1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and a kettlebell held overhead in your straightened right arm.
  2. Hinge at the hip as you slide your left arms down your left left leg to touch your ankle.
  3. Reverse the movement to return to the start position.
  4. Do 3 sets of 15 reps on each side.
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Tips 

Keep your arms straight; hinge from the hips; do not bend your knees; look up at the kettlebell and maintain a solid core.

8. Romanian Deadlift

Muscles Worked

hamstrings, core muscles, spinal erectors, front deltoids

Equipment Used 

kettlebell

Step-by-Step How-To 

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and a kettlebell held at arm’s length with an overhand grip.
  2. Hinge at the hips to drive your hips back. Bend your knees as you lower the weight to mid shin level.
  3. Thrust your hips forward as you return to the start position.
  4. Do 3 sets of 15 reps. 

Tips 

Maintain a neutral back position (do not round your back). 

9. Side Bend

Muscles Worked

internal obliques, external obliques, intercostals

Equipment Used 

kettlebell

Step-by-Step How-To 

  1. Stand with your feet wider than shoulder width apart and a kettlebell held in your right hand at your side. Place the other hand by your ear.
  2. Bring your torso down to the left side to stretch through the sides of your waist. Go down until the kettlebell comes up to your hip level.
  3. Reverse and repeat.
  4. Do 3 sets of 15 reps on each side.

Tips 

Keep your feet wider than shoulder-width apart; do not bend your arm; keep your core tight.

10. Kettlebell Sit Up & Press

Muscles Worked

rectus abdominus, front deltoid, spinal erectors

Equipment Used 

kettlebell

Step-by-Step How-To 

  1. Sit on your butt with knees bent and a kettlebell held in front of your belly button with your hand grasping the sides of the belly of the weight.
  2. Lower your torso until your back is completely on the floor.
  3. Come back up to a full sit up position, simultaneously pressing the kettlebell to full extension overhead.
  4. Reverse and repeat.
  5. Perform 3 sets of 10-12 reps. 

Tips 

Do not round your back; keep your feet firmly planted on the floor throughout.

11. Kettlebell Snatch

Muscles Worked

rectus abdominus, front deltoid, spinal erectors

Equipment Used 

kettlebell

Step-by-Step How-To 

  1. Stand with a kettlebell in front of your body on the floor.
  2. Sit back as you come down to grab the kettlebell with your right hand in an overhand grip.
  3. Swing the bell back between your legs and up to shoulder level.
  4. Drive the weight forward with a hip snap. 
  5. Bend your elbow and pull it back slightly to drive the bell upward.
  6. Spear your hand through the handle to move the belly of the weight to the back of your hand.
  7. Punch the weight overhead to full arm extension.
  8. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps on each arm.
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Tips 

Perform the movement in a fluid motion, maintaining a natural back arch. Keep your core tight throughout the exercise.

12. Kettlebell Rack Carry

Muscles Worked

Core muscles, front deltoids, spinal erectors

Equipment Used 

2 x kettlebells

Step-by-Step How-To 

  1. Stand with a pair of kettlebells in front of your body.
  2. Drop down to grab the kettlebell handles and clean them up to chest level.
  3. Hold the weights n front of your chest with your knuckles touching each other.
  4. Take five steps forward and then five steps backward.

Tips 

Maintain a neutral spine position throughout the movement.

13. Single Leg Deadlift

Muscles Worked

hamstrings, core muscles, spinal erectors

Equipment Used 

kettlebells

Step-by-Step How-To 

  1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and a kettlebell in your right hand. Place your left hand on your hip.
  2. Hinge at the hips to bring the kettlebell down to the floor as you simultaneously lift your right leg from the floor.
  3. Reverse and repeat.

Tips 

Keep your core tight in order to maintain balance and fully activate the core muscles. The only movement should be through the hips.

Creating a Kettlebell Workout for Core

Using kettlebells as the basis of your core training is a smart move. The instability of the kettlebell helps promote core strength and core stability. Combine 2 or 3 of the kettlebell exercises covered in this article to create a workout routine of 8-10 sets. Work your core once every five days for maximum effect.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the kettlebell good for the core?

Kettlebells are good for the core because they are unstable pieces of training equipment. The kettlebell has an offset center of mass. This is very different from a dumbbell which has an evenly weighted center of mass. The instability that is built into the kettlebell forces the body to work harder to balance and stabilize the weight. The majority of that extra stabilization work is carried out by the muscles of the core. 

Will kettlebell swings burn belly fat?

No kettlebell swings will not burn belly fat. You cannot spot reduce fat from any part of the body. What kettlebells will do is contribute to your overall calorie burn. If you combine exercise with a reduced-calorie diet, you will lose fat from all over your body.

What happens when you do 100 kettlebell swings a day?

If you do 100 kettlebell swings a day, you will burn about 90 calories from that exercise. The exercise will also improve your cardiovascular health and improve your hip mobility, latissimus dorsi, and front deltoid strength. 

Steve Theunissen

Steve Theunissen is a former gym owner and personal trainer based in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness, and fat loss.

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