The 5 Hardest Kettlebell Exercises for Sculpted Abs

These kettlebell abs exercises take your core workouts to the next level with an added load.
Image Credit: microgen/iStock/GettyImages

A kettlebell might not be the first fitness tool you grab to train your abs, but that's about to change.

These versatile weights provide a unique challenge for your core. Unlike dumbbells, which have equal weights on both sides, kettlebells are weighted more irregularly. Most of the weight is centered around the bell, while the handle still has some weight to it.

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That design lets you tap into your core stability and control in new ways.

Enter, the hardest kettlebell exercises for abs. These aren't your traditional planks and sit-ups. Expect them to sculpt your core while also training your your back, shoulders and legs for all-over results.

Move 1: KB Sit-up to Overhead Press

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Skill Level Advanced
Body Part [ "Abs", "Shoulders", "Back" ]
  1. Lie on your back with your legs extended in front of you and hold a kettlebell bottom-up with both hands by your chest.
  2. Pressing your lower back into the floor, use your lower abs to sit up into an upright position.
  3. At the same time, press the kettlebell overhead, finishing with your biceps by your ears.
  4. Inhale and lower back down to the starting position.

Move 2: KB Straight-Arm Sit-up

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Skill Level Advanced
Body Part [ "Abs", "Shoulders" ]
  1. Lie on your back with your right knee bent and left leg extended in front of you. Press the kettlebell above your chest with your right arm, and keep your left arm on the ground at arm's length.
  2. Keeping your right arm extended, press your right foot into the ground and brace your core to sit up.
  3. Pause at the top of the movement and then roll back down to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for a set number of reps and then switch legs and arms.

Move 3: KB Renegade Row

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Skill Level Advanced
Body Part [ "Abs", "Back", "Arms" ]
  1. Start in a high plank with your shoulders directly over your wrists and the kettlebell behind your right hand on the ground.
  2. Keeping your entire body tight and your hips square, grab the horn of the bell with your right hand and row the weight toward your right hip, pulling your shoulder away from your ear and drawing your elbow back.
  3. Lower the kettlebell back to the starting position and repeat for a set number of reps before switching sides.

Tip

To modify the exercise, keep your feet shoulder-width apart instead of together. This gives you a wider base of support. Try to avoid twisting or lifting the opposing hip while you're performing the exercise.

Move 4: KB Windmill

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Skill Level Advanced
Body Part [ "Abs", "Shoulders", "Legs" ]
  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, then turn them out slightly, about 45 degrees, to the left. Hold the kettlebell with your right hand in the front rack position and push-press the kettlebell overhead. This is the starting position.
  2. Rotate your torso to the right and then hinge your hips back to the right, as you lower your torso toward the floor and trace your left arm along your inner thigh. Be sure to keep your right leg straight and bend your left leg. You should feel this in your right hamstring and oblique.
  3. Once you feel the stretch, slowly come back up to stand, keeping the kettlebell overhead.

Tip

Keep your eyes on the kettlebell at all times, and pack your shoulders down to engage your lats to keep the kettlebell stable overhead. As you come back up to stand, engage your obliques.

Move 5: KB Bicycle Core Twist

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Skill Level Advanced
Body Part Abs
  1. Sit on the floor with your knees bent and lean back slightly on your tailbone until you feel your abs engaged. Hold a kettlebell bottom-up with both hands by your chest, and lift your feet about six inches off the floor.
  2. Keeping your chest lifted and your back straight, rotate your torso to the right as you extend your left leg in front of you. Return to the center and then rotate your torso to the left as you extend your right leg in front of you.
  3. Continue alternating for the set number of reps.

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