Just about every kettlebell exercise you perform engages your abs and core muscles, notes Lauren Brooks, author of "Kettlebells for Women." Your abs play an important role in supporting your trunk as you maneuver the odd-shaped weight through the movements of each exercise. Given this abs impact and with numerous kettlebell exercises to choose from, you can easily design a core-challenging workout to help you define your abs while working the major muscles in your upper and lower body.
Before doing any exercises, get your body moving and prepared for your workout with a few minutes of jogging, jumping jacks or burpees. Follow these activities with a light kettlebell exercise such as the around-the-body pass. To perform this exercise, grasp the horns of your kettlebell with both hands and hold it in front of your waist. Release your left hand and swing the weight around your body to the right. Move your left hand behind your back, grasp the handle, release your right hand and swing the weight back to the start. Perform 10 swings to the right and then to the left. Just by using this exercise as a part of your warm-up, you're already working your core muscles.
Sample Standing Bells
Include a variety of standing exercises to work your upper and lower body muscles while recruiting your abs. For example, perform halos -- hold the kettlebell upside down by the handle and circle it around your head -- to work the muscles in your arms and shoulders. Other exercises, such as one-arm and two-arm swings, as well as the snatch, rely on your abs and core muscles for support while working the muscles in your upper and lower back, shoulders, hips and legs. Try the kettlebell windmill, a valuable exercise for several reasons, advises Mike Hanley, Russian kettlebell instructor. The windmill works your shoulders and glutes, increases the range of motion in your hamstrings, and requires your abs and core muscles to work overtime just to maintain correct form and movement.
Sample Floor Bells
Kettlebell exercises from the floor can also be effective in isolating your core muscles for well-defined abs. Try the Turkish getup, for example, which requires your core muscles, especially your abs, to pull your body up from a lying to a standing position while keeping the kettlebell held above your head. Hold the weight with both hands and assume a half sit-up position for Russian twists. Rotate your torso side to side and touch the floor with the weight. Lie on your back with the kettlebell on the floor just behind your head for reverse curls. Grasp the handle with both hands, tighten your abs and pull your knees up to your head.
In deciding how to set up your workout, Chris Cato, a certified personal trainer, recommends performing the exercises as a circuit. This means performing one exercise after another to complete one set. Once you decide on which exercises to include in your workout, perform 10 reps with each one and move from one to the next with very little rest in between. After the last exercise, rest one to two minutes and repeat the circuit. As you become stronger, gradually increase the number and work toward five circuits. Train two to three times per week with a minimum of 48 hours between sessions to allow for muscle recovery. Use a weight appropriate to your skill and strength level -- one that allows you to do 10 to 12 reps of each exercise with good form.
- Kettlebells for Women: Workouts for Your Strong, Sculpted & Sexy Body; Lauren Brooks
- YouTube: Kettlebell Core Exercise — The Halo
- Mahler's Aggressive Strength: Guide to Kettlebell Exercises
- Hanley Strength Systems: 5 Reasons to Start Doing the Kettlebell Windmill
- Men's Fitness: Russian Twist
- YouTube: Kettlebell Exercises For Abs - 5 Ab Exercises You Should Be Doing
- Men't Fitness: The Kettlebell Workout
- Photo Credit Bojan656/iStock/Getty Images
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