These Are My Favourite Kettlebell Abs Exercises

MF’s editor Isaac Williams runs through his favourite kettlebell abs exercises – give these a go in January to strengthen your core after the potentially inactive festive break…

These kettlebell abs exercises will work your abdominals, lower back and core from a variety of angles, so that you get balanced muscle and strength gains across your entire midsection. Add these moves to your weekly routine, alongside our full-body kettlebell workout, to get back to full fitness in the new year.

Doing endless crunches won’t sculpt the six-pack you’re after, but a mixture of moves that target your upper, lower and side abs, as well as your deep-lying stabilising muscles, certainly will.

My favourite kettlebell abs exercises (in order of difficulty)

fitness model demonstrating how to perform a kettlebell halo – one of the best kettlebell abs exercises fitness model demonstrating how to perform a kettlebell halo – one of the best kettlebell abs exercises

Kettlebell halo

Target: Entire core
Difficulty: 2/5

Benefits of the kettlebell halo:

This move engages your shoulders and core, making it the ideal warm-up when done light – or a fat-burning finisher when used alongside other kettlebell exercises.

How to do the kettlebell halo:

  • Holding the kettlebell by the handle with both hands, manoeuvre it around your head, bending your elbows as it passes behind you for the maximum range of motion.
  • You’ll really feel this one in your obliques if you do it right.

fitness model demonstrating how to perform a kettlebell round the world fitness model demonstrating how to perform a kettlebell round the world

Kettlebell around the world

Target: Entire core
Difficulty: 2/5

Benefits of the kettlebell around the world:

Done at speed, this move gets all your core muscles firing, making it a good warm-up (done light) or a good finisher (done heavy, in conjunction with other moves). It’ll also work your grip, if you keep at it for a while.

How to do the kettlebell around the world:

  • Stand tall with the kettlebell in one hand, then swing it around your body, switching hands as it passes in front of and behind you.

fitness model demonstrating how to perform a kettlebell windmill fitness model demonstrating how to perform a kettlebell windmill

Kettlebell windmill

Target: Obliques
Difficulty: 3/5

Benefits of the kettlebell windmill:

This move targets your obliques and works on your coordination. As well as being one of the best kettlebell abs exercises, it’s also a great dynamic hamstring stretch – ideal for warming up on a big deadlift day.

How to do the kettlebell windmill:

  • Stand holding a kettlebell overhead, then lean to one side, pushing your hip out, so that your free hand travels down your leg.
  • Keep your arm and back straight throughout.

fitness model demonstrating how to perform a kettlebell figure of eight – one of the best kettlebell abs exercises fitness model demonstrating how to perform a kettlebell figure of eight – one of the best kettlebell abs exercises

Kettlebell figure of eight

Target: Obliques
Difficulty: 3/5

Benefits of the kettlebell figure of eight:

This is as much a test of your coordination as it is of your core control. The weight is constantly moving so you can’t switch off, either physically or mentally, for a second.

How to do the kettlebell figure of eight:

  • Swing the weight out in front of you, then pass it back between your legs and switch hands.
  • With the other hand, swing the weight back, out and around your other leg, then pass it through your legs again to continue the pattern.

fitness model demonstrating how to perform a kettlebell plank pass – one of the best kettlebell abs exercises fitness model demonstrating how to perform a kettlebell plank pass – one of the best kettlebell abs exercises

Kettlebell plank pass

Target: Entire core
Difficulty: 3/5

Benefits of the kettlebell plank pass:

Once you can do the plank for at least two minutes, this variation adds instability and a twisting motion, hitting your core from every angle. You can also do it with a dumbbell or sandbag.

How to do the kettlebell plank pass:

  • Get into a straight-arm plank position with the kettlebell underneath you.
  • Grasp it with one hand and pull it across your body, then change hands and repeat on the other side.
  • Keep your torso straight and stable throughout.

fitness model demonstrating how to perform a kettlebell bent press – one of the best kettlebell abs exercises fitness model demonstrating how to perform a kettlebell bent press – one of the best kettlebell abs exercises

Kettlebell bent press

Target: Shoulders, triceps, obliques, core
Difficulty: 4/5

Benefits of the kettlebell bent press:

The idea is not to press the weight but to support it as you get underneath it, which provides a real test of core and shoulder stability.

How to do the kettlebell bent press:

  • Hold the bell at shoulder height, then bend away from it while your upper arm is in contact with your body.
  • Then start pressing, and keep lowering your torso until your arm is straight.
  • Then straighten up to return to the start.

fitness model demonstrating how to perform a kettlebell renegade row fitness model demonstrating how to perform a kettlebell renegade row

Kettlebell renegade row

Target: Entire core
Difficulty: 4/5

Benefits of the kettlebell renegade row:

This move combines stability with pulling, so it’ll build your core as well as your back. It’s tempting to twist to one side as the reps get tougher, but the more you can stay parallel, the harder you’ll work your abs. 

How to do the kettlebell renegade row:

  • Start in a push-up position holding a pair of kettlebells.
  • Do a push-up.
  • At the top of the move, row one bell up (so that your thumb touches your armpit) and down, then the other. 

fitness model demonstrating how to perform a kettlebell rolling thunder abs exercise fitness model demonstrating how to perform a kettlebell rolling thunder

Kettlebell rolling thunder

Target: Core and chest
Difficulty: 4/5

Benefits of the kettlebell rolling thunder:

This move uses full-body coordination while forcing your core to work under load, building real-world strength that’ll be useful in almost any sport. It’ll also give your shoulders some much-needed stability work.

How to do the kettlebell rolling thunder:

  • Lie with a kettlebell in each hand, keeping your knees bent.
  • Press one kettlebell up, rolling to that side and bringing your shoulder off the ground.
  • As you lower the first kettlebell, roll the other way and press the other one.

fitness model demonstrating how to perform a kettlebell side press fitness model demonstrating how to perform a kettlebell side press

Kettlebell side press

Target: Obliques, shoulders, triceps
Difficulty: 4/5

Benefits of the kettlebell side press:

As well as working your core, this lift allows you to handle significantly more weight than a traditional overhead press, as your press should be stronger out to the side than straight overhead.

How to do the kettlebell side press:

  • Take a fairly wide stance and lead to the side, with that foot pointed in the direction you’re leaning.
  • Press the kettlebell upwards until your arm is straight, then lower under control.

fitness model demonstrating how to perform a kettlebell snatch fitness model demonstrating how to perform a kettlebell snatch fitness model demonstrating how to perform a kettlebell snatch fitness model demonstrating how to perform a kettlebell snatch

Kettlebell snatch

Target: Full body
Difficulty: 4/5

Benefits of the kettlebell snatch:

Though it’s one of the toughest kettlebell abs exercises to master, the snatch is worth it. This full-body test of coordination demands serious lung power when done properly.

How to do the kettlebell snatch:

  • Swing the kettlebell between your legs with one hand, then pop your hips forwards to drive it up.
  • When it gets to chest level, punch your hand forwards and catch it on your forearm, bringing it overhead.

fitness model demonstrating how to perform a kettlebell Turkish get-up fitness model demonstrating how to perform a kettlebell Turkish get-up fitness model demonstrating how to perform a kettlebell Turkish get-up fitness model demonstrating how to perform a kettlebell Turkish get-up

Kettlebell Turkish get-up

Target: Full body
Difficulty: 5/5

Benefits of the kettlebell Turkish get-up:

Aside from being one of the best kettlebell abs exercises, the Turkish get-up builds strength and balance through your whole body, as well as teaching you to create tension and stability in a variety of positions. 

How to do the kettlebell Turkish get-up:

  • Lie on your back with the kettlebell held up.
  • Supporting yourself on the other arm, plant the foot on the kettlebell side on the floor.
  • Sweep your other leg back and plant the knee on the floor.
  • Stand up with the kettlebell overhead.

fitness model demonstrating how to perform a kettlebell angel press – one of the best kettlebell abs exercises fitness model demonstrating how to perform a kettlebell angel press – one of the best kettlebell abs exercises

Kettlebell angel press

Target: Upper abs
Difficulty: 5/5

Benefits of the kettlebell angel press:

This is an advanced abs move, so you may want to save it until you have built some solid foundations. The trick to making it effective is to control the lowering phase, rather than just flopping back onto the floor.

How to do the kettlebell angel press:

  • Lie on your back holding two kettlebells with straight arms above your shoulders.
  • Contract your abs to crunch up and raise your head and shoulders off the floor, then lower slowly back to the start.

TRX Rubber Coated Kettlebell

This TRX Kettlebell is the perfect tool for the job

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