I think it’s pretty safe to assume that the secret about kettlebell training is no longer a secret at all. Heck, just take a look at any man or woman who utilizes kettlebells in their regular workout rotation.
Chances are better than average that they’re lean, mean, balanced and defined. Perhaps they’re even shredded to the point that you are forced to take notice. That’s no accident.
Believe ALL the hype you’ve heard about kettlebells because every bit of it is true. They melt fat quickly, they work multiple muscle groups in a single bound, they help you build muscle and they even improve brain function because of the concentration involved with their use.
All that being said, they also have a profound effect on one particular area of the body—the abs. Yes, they work the entire core too, but one of the main rules with kettlebells is that you should keep your abs tight to create force production and ensure your lower back stays out of threat. This is often referred to as “bracing” or abdominal bracing.
In what’s known as a “hardstyle lockout,” you squeeze your abs, glutes, quads and lats all at the same time with each rep. This is generally practiced with the popular exercise known as swings.
With that drill in particular, you can see a lot of the carryover effect of kettlebells mentioned above. If you were to do 10 sets of 10 with very good, crisp form, it would be the equivalent of doing 100 reps of ab crunches.
But, you would be in a standing position where you wouldn’t have to worry about any of the atrocities commonly practiced while lying on the floor that a lot of people do. Plus, you get the additional benefit of boosting your aerobic and anaerobic capacity, while burning more calories and defining more muscles.
Aside from swings, there are a few more kettlebell drills that I personally love when it comes to getting more bang for your buck in the abdominal region. Here is a list for you to look through and incorporate into your workouts where applicable. These are in no particular order.
The Best Kettlebell Ab Exercises
#1: Turkish Get-ups
By far the gold standard exercise of kettlebells is the Turkish get-up. This drill pretty much works every muscle in your body, with a specific emphasis on the legs, glutes, shoulders and… abs.
To make a “TGU” possible, you have no choice but to keep you abs tight throughout. When you perform these, you are balancing a kettlebell overhead for an extended period of time. That alone causes a high amount of tension on your abs.
Couple this with the fact that you have to go from a lying to standing position and the effect is compounded. A series of slow and controlled TGUs can add up to a lot of ab tension, which is what you WANT to get to achieve favorable results.
#2: Renegade Rows
You might be thinking these are back exercises, and you would be correct. Speaking of which, make sure to check out my 5 of the Best Kettlebell Back Exercises video on our Wild Warrior Nutrition YouTube page. This one definitely made the cut in that list.
However, this is also one of my favorite kettlebell ab exercises too. Why? Quite simply because you have to squeeze the pulp out of your abs to keep your back straight and maintain good form while performing them. With exercises like this, the heavier you go, the greater effect you will have.
#3: Windshield Wiper Seesaw Chest Press Leg Raises
This is a complex move that you’re really going to dig. And I warn you ahead of time, it is on the advanced side. The fun part with this drill is that you also get a great amount of chest work done, so it is dual-purpose like renegade rows.
It is performed while lying on your back and just like renegade rows, it requires two kettlebells. As you move the bells in a seesaw-like fashion, you slowly drop your legs back and forth to each side of your body.
Then you throw in a slow and controlled leg raise and you’re left with an amazing ab exercise that you will surely tell all your friends about at your next social gathering.
When you think of kettlebell ab exercises, snatches might not come to mind at first glance. But I promise you this, much like swings, these suckers will really do a number on your abs when you dial them in and execute proper form.
Every time you rip a kettlebell overhead when doing a snatch, the amount of tension created in the abs is off the charts! Plus, your heart rate goes through the stratosphere, so you really capitalize on the fat-burning effect.
Lo and behold, your abs get a great workout, the fat that surrounds them disappears and you are left with definition to be proud of.
#5: Loaded Sit-ups
This has been so much fun! It’s only fitting to end the fun on a positive note with loaded sit-ups. You have the option of doing these with either one or two kettlebells. I like to mix it up. You DO need either an assistant or place to anchor your feet though to pull these off.
The exercise is performed by doing a straight-leg sit-up with one or two kettlebells hoisted over your chest. When you come to a fully seated position, your upper arm(s) will be right by your ears. Then you slowly lower yourself back down and repeat.
There really is no point during this drill that your abs are not engaged.
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The Finish Line
You are now equipped with some smoking gun kettlebell ab exercises to integrate into your workouts. Always be patient with your training, start out light except where instructed and never let ego get into control. It doesn’t take long to pay the dear price in kettlebell training when you try to get too fancy.
Also, be sure to get the My Inferno Body app by clicking on the banner above. We have an abundance of workouts, exercises, pre-made programs and fasting protocols all at your fingertips.
Until next time, hit me up with any questions or concerns and have a great day,
Kevin David Rail—Chief Health and Fitness Advisor for Wild Warrior Nutrition and Co-Founder of My Inferno Body