Forget crunches — you only need a kettlebell and 4 exercises to strengthen your core

a photo of a woman's toned core
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Not feeling challenged enough in your core workouts? Or getting bored of your usual ab routine? It’s time you have a day off from bodyweight exercises and incorporate one of the best kettlebells into your core workouts.

Adding a kettlebell into a core workout adds resistance and intensifies the exercises, helping to enhance core strength and develop definition in this area of your mid-section. Also, the off-center weight challenges your stabilizing muscles, promoting a more comprehensive and effective workout.

The key is to start off using a lighter kettlebell to ensure you are performing each exercise with the correct form. When you feel more confident with the moves and stronger, then you may want to consider implementing progressive overload into your kettlebell training. 

What is the kettlebell core workout?

The workout comes from Yana Strese's Instagram where you can find short clips of her demonstrating each move. Strese is a qualified personal trainer and professional ultra runner with a depth of knowledge on the importance of building a strong core.

So what does her core building routine entail? Well, the aim of this workout is to do 12-15 reps of each exercise and complete four rounds of the entire routine. It's up to you what weight size you work with, but as we mentioned above, always start lighter than you think you need to and you can always build up to exercising with a heavier kettlebell.

Kettlebell Gorilla Rows

This exercise is performed with two kettlebells but if you only have one kettlebell you can just alternate the one weight between both hands.

Start in a hip-width stance, holding a kettlebell in each hand. Hinge at the hips, keeping the back flat, and lower the kettlebells toward the ground. Row one kettlebell towards the hip while keeping the other on the ground. Alternate sides, engaging your core and maintaining a stable spine throughout.

Kettlebell Overhead Marches

Stand on one leg, holding a kettlebell overhead in the opposite hand. Lift the knee of the standing leg towards your chest while maintaining balance. March in place, alternating legs, and stabilizing the core with the overhead kettlebell.

Kettlebell Marches

Begin by holding the kettlebell upside down by the handle and position it in front of your chest. March your legs up and down while keeping your core engaged.

Kettlebell Around The World

Kneel with your knees shoulder-width apart, holding a kettlebell with both hands. Circle the kettlebell around your body in one direction for 30 seconds. Reverse the direction for another 30 seconds. Maintain a stable core and controlled movement throughout the exercise. Ensure proper form, control, and focus on engaging your core muscles in each of these kettlebell core workouts for optimal effectiveness. 

What are the benefits of using a kettlebell in core workouts?

a photo of a man doing kettlebell marches

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Incorporating kettlebell exercises into your core workout routine offers various benefits that contribute to overall strength, stability, and functional fitness. Firstly, kettlebell workouts engage multiple muscle groups at once, providing a comprehensive approach to core training. 

Kettlebell core workouts emphasize functional strength. The off-center weight distribution will challenge your stabilizing muscles, helping to promote better muscle recruitment and enhancing the ability to perform everyday activities with greater ease. This functional strength is particularly valuable for activities that involve lifting, twisting, and maintaining balance. 

Additionally, kettlebell exercises often involve compound movements, meaning they target not only the abdominal muscles but also the entire core. This approach will contribute to building a well-rounded and sculpted core. 

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Jessica Downey
Fitness Writer

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her love for keeping fit and fueling her body with healthy and enjoyable food quite naturally led her to write about all things fitness and health-related. If she isn’t out testing the latest fitness products such as the latest running shoe or yoga mat for reviewing then she can be found writing news and features on the best ways to build strength, active aging, female health, and anything in between. Before then she had a small stint writing in local news, has also written for Runners World UK (print and digital), and gained experience with global content marketing agency, Cedar Communications.


Born and raised in Scotland, Jessica is a massive fan of exercising and keeping active outdoors. When at home she can be found running by the sea, swimming in it, or up a mountain. This continued as she studied and trained to become a PPA-accredited magazine journalist in Wales. And since working and living in London, she splits her time between weight training in the gym, trying new fitness classes, and finding scenic running routes. Jessica enjoys documenting this on her fitness-inspired Instagram page @jessrunshere where she loves engaging with like-minded fitness junkies.


She is a big fan of healthy cooking and loves learning more about this area with expert nutritionists she has met over the years. Jessica is a big advocate for building healthy relationships with food rather than building restrictive attitudes towards it. When she isn’t eating or running she also enjoys practicing yoga in her free time as it helps her to unwind and benefits her performance in other sports.