Complete Kettlebell Abs Workout

Working on your abs can have some amazing benefits. As you build up your core strength you start to see your overall fitness improve, since most movements originate from the core. Working your abs will also help prevent injuries and back pain.

​Your Complete Kettlebell Abs Workout

​A great kettlebell abs workout is one of the best ways to strengthen and tone your core. Because kettlebells are weighted off balance, kettlebell workouts force you to use your core stabilizer muscles as well as other abdominal muscles. Kettlebells often provide for full body workouts that torch calories and help to burn fat. In turn, you will see results throughout your body, not just the abs.

Do this kettlebell abs workout once, all the way through. Rest for 30 seconds between sets. All that is needed for this workout is one kettlebell and a mat. Repeat this circuit twice, if you are looking an advanced workout.

Get ready to ditch the dadbod in just 30 days with this fitness challenge.

Kettlebell Windmills: 8 reps each side

For both a strength and stretch kettlebell ab workout, look no further than the kettlebell windmill. They stretch your hips and strengthen the midsection and posterior chain.

  1. To do a windmill, first stand with your feet shoulder width apart with the kettlebell on the ground in front of you.
  2. Clean and press the kettlebell so you are holding it in your right hand straight above your head.
  3. Look up at the kettlebell. Keep looking at it throughout the entire duration of the move. Your arm will remain in this lockout position the entire move.  
  4. Next, begin to bend at the hips to touch your left hand to your left foot. Bend as much as the flexibility of your back will allow, and then return to standing.
  5. Do 8 reps and switch to the other side.

There is also the option to do the windmill with your free hand behind your back. This will put more emphasis on your chest and back muscles.

Man doing crunches while holding a kettlebell with both hands

Kettlebell Sit Ups: 30 reps

Sit ups are not only good for helping get those visible abs, they also help to strengthen the muscles that help protect the spine.

For a healthy back and nice abs, add a kettlebell to your sit ups. The extra resistance will help you feel the full effect of the workout.

  1. Start by sitting up with your knees bent. Do this while holding a kettlebell by the horns to your chest.
  2. Slowly lower your upper body down, without moving your legs, until your back is fully on the floor.
  3. As soon as your back touches the floor, engage your abs and raise yourself back up to a semi seated position.

For an extra challenge raise your arms over your head as you lower down.

Renegade Plank: 10 reps each side, 2 sets

This move may work a little better if you have two kettlebells, but one will do just fine. If done well, planks are a huge workout for the abs. It is important to note that you should work on performing a plank correctly before moving up to this ab exercise with kettlebells.

This move works the shoulders and the back. The core is involved as well, because it has to work on stabilizing you. 

As you do the row part of this move, your abs have to work to counteract that rotation. So, while you may feel it most in the shoulders, your abs are definitely getting a workout.

  1. Start by getting into a high plank position with your hands on the handles of kettlebells.
  2.  Hold the plank without letting your hips dip or back round.
  3. Begin to row by pulling the kettlebell in your right hand up to your stomach, while still holding the plank, and then lowering it back down.

Do 10 repetitions and then repeat the same motion on the other side. Don’t let your hips fall to the side as you do this. Keep your body in line the entire time.

Man sitting down while holding a kettlebell with both hands

Russian Twists: 40 Reps

If you really want to work your obliques, do Russian twists. They are the best kettlebell abs workout for targeting those sides and muffin-top area.

  1. To do a Russian twist, start in a seated position with your knees bent in front of you.
  2. Lean back in your seat and bring your feet off the ground.
  3. Twist to one side and then the other, actually touching the kettlebell to the gro​​​​und if you are able.

This will provide the most effective workout. You will feel your obliques catching fire.

Standing Cross Crunch: 15 reps each side, 2 sets

A standing crunch should be treated like a regular mat crunch, with your abs engaged the entire time. The regular standing crunch works the lower and upper ab muscles. Add the cross, and the obliques will get in on the fun.

  1. To start, place your feet shoulder width apart and hold a kettlebell by the horns above your head.
  2. Next, simultaneously bring the kettlebell down towards your knees as you lift one knee at a time.
  3. To add the crossing part, twist as your arms come down. Your right knee should move towards your left elbow as you do this.
  4.  Switch your knees every rep.

Be sure to pull your body in and tuck in your belly button as you crunch.

Pistol Squat: 5 reps each leg

A pistol squat is a full body squat that will work your lower body, just like any squat. The difference is, this one also requires a lot of core activation as well. Balance is a necessity for mastering this challenging squat.

Doing it with a kettlebell enhances the effect for your entire body, especially the stabilizer muscles. Use a wall, table, or other steady object to help balance yourself if you’re not fully comfortable with the move.

  1. To perform it, start with your feet shoulder width apart holding a kettlebell to your chest.
  2. Raise one foot off the floor, bend your knees slightly, and keep your chest lifted.
  3. Shift your hips back and bend your knee to lower yourself into a deep squat. Go slowly as it is important to pay close attention to your balance in this move.
  4. Hold your bottom position for a beat, and then return to a standing position by driving through your standing heel.

Kettlebell Swing: 20 reps

The swing is the classic kettlebell abs move because it is such a complete workout. It is a real calorie burner that will utilize almost every muscle in your body. It might look like it is a shoulder exercise, but you will feel the explosive movement carving out your abs.

  1. To get in the starting position place a kettlebell in front of you, and stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Lower yourself down to grasp the kettlebell by shifting your weight back into your hips and bending at the knees.
  3. Grab the handle with an overhand grip, then contract your abs and pull your shoulders back.
  4. Next, hike the kettlebell backwards between your legs. Reverse the movement by quickly hinging from your hips. This will allow the kettlebell to move upwards.
  5. Once the momentum allows the bell to reach your chest height, engage your core again, and lead the bell between your legs.

One of the most common mistakes is to treat the swing like a giant squat. If done correctly the real power in this move should be coming from your hips, not your legs.

Kettlebell Toe Touches: 30 reps

Toe taps work to really target your upper abs. Plus, ​it’s is a really easy beginner’s workout you can start with. They can be done quickly in rapid succession, or slowly so you can really feel it burning. If you are using a mat get it out again for this move.

  1. Lie flat on the mat with your back flush to the ground.
  2. Grab your kettlebell by the horns and hold it straight over your head.
  3. Next, bring your legs straight up in the air so you can feel a nice stretch in your hamstrings.
  4. Start the movement by pushing the kettlebell upwards towards your toes. The goal is to touch your toes but how far you can go will depend on the flexibility of your back.
  5. Keep your legs as still as possible throughout the move.
  6. Once you have touched your toes, lower your upper body back down, This movement will feel like a mini crunch.
  7. Keep your belly button pressing down to the ground and really squeeze your abs as you push the kettlebell up.

You’ll really feel this particular exercise throughout the course of your kettlebell abs workout.

Man holding a kettlebell with one hand

Sit and Press: 20 reps

The sit and press is a kettlebell ab exercise which is very similar to the kettlebell sit up, with just a few key differences. The abs are the main target here, but it also helps with some shoulder and hip mobility.

A sit and press begins by lying flat on your mat holding a kettlebell to your chest.

  1. Begin to bring your body up with your abdominal muscles while keeping your legs extended straight out in front of you.
  2. Once you have reached a full sitting position, press the kettlebell straight over your head.
  3. Finally, bring the kettlebell back down to your chest and slowly lower yourself back down to the mat.

Standing Twist: 40 reps, 2 sets

Standing ab workouts are often overlooked because they look too easy. You can rest assured the standing Russian twist will not feel easy if done correctly. If you want a really tight core, particularly obliques, this kettlebell ab exercise will make the perfect addition to your routine.

  1. ​Your starting position for this move will be feet planted in an athletic stance.
  2. Hold your kettlebell by the horns out in front of you.
  3. ​Begin the move by twisting as far as is comfortable in one direction and then reverse and twist the other way.
  4. Let the kettlebell lead you so you can really feel that twist in your obliques.

Make sure your movements are slow and controlled. You should be squeezing your abs so you can feel them working the entire time you are twisting.

Deck Squat: 10 reps

The deck squat is a highly challenging kettlebell ab exercise. It is most often seen in Crossfit gyms, but you can push yourself by including the deck squat in your kettlebell abs routine. It works your abs and provides a nice cardio challenge.

  1. Start by holding a kettlebell to your chest.
  2. Begin to do a deep squat until your butt touches the ground.
  3. When you feel the ground, immediately roll your body flat down on the mat while continuing to hold the kettlebell to your chest.  
  4. Once on the ground, extend your arms above your head and tap the ground behind you.
  5. The difficult part of this move is standing up once you are on the ground. To do so, pull the kettlebell that was over your head in front of you with speed.
  6. Using the momentum from pulling the kettlebell over your head, stand back up in the squat position.

This should all look like one very quick and fluid motion with no room for pausing.

Overhead Kettlebell Carry: 30 seconds each side

The overhead kettlebell carry is an ab workout with kettlebells that works the core by utilizing your balance. It will recruit your entire midsection, including obliques and all your stabilizer muscles. This move will also provide the added benefit of working your shoulder stability

  1. To do an overhead carry, first clean and press a kettlebell completely over your head.
  2. Once you have the kettlebell in the lock out position, pack in your shoulder to stabilize it.
  3. Once you are comfortable with holding the kettlebell above your head begin to walk in a straight line.
  4. Switch arms and then walk back.

This move will force the opposite side of your midsection to work to keep your body upright. Make sure you are keeping your spine aligned as you do this move. You will not feel it if you allow yourself to slouch or lean to one side.


These kettlebell ab exercises ​will have your muscles burning by the time you are done. This ​kettlebell abs workout will help to build up muscle, so you can burn fat more easily. Make sure you do every move with control and push yourself to feel it work.

When you pick your weight for this workout, pick one that will challenge you. Don’t pick one that is so heavy you might injure yourself. It is important to build up your core, so you can protect your spine, but don’t risk hurting your back with a weight that is too heavy. An adjustable kettlebell will work well for this and any of your other workouts as it can be adjusted to your needs.

Ab workouts with kettlebells is the perfect way to help you tone your abs as well as improve your overall wellness. Come back to this workout twice a week and push yourself a little harder every time.

Robert Lemus has been a natural competitor for 6 years, starting in Men’s Physique, then Bodybuilding, and then into Classic Physique. He is the Orange County Bodybuilding champion in 2016 for the Musclemania Organization. In 2018, he received his Pro Card with the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) in Classic Physique.