It seems there are endless ways to use a kettlebell these days and this ab kettlebell workout covers 15 of them. This seriously sweaty 15-minute no-repeat core torcher targets nearly every core muscle for a thorough ab beasting.
I’m always keen on a new fitness challenge and seeing what other fitness enthusiasts get up to when left to their devices. Be prepared to work up a sweat storm with this one (and I thought Chris Hemsworth’s 200-rep bodyweight workout was bad enough) using just one kettlebell and perhaps a loud speaker to muffle my yelps.
This one comes from Daniel PT Fitness, and all you need to complete this ab kettlebell workout is one medium to heavy kettlebell, some willpower, and one of the best yoga mats. The routine demands 40 seconds of work in exchange for 20 seconds of rest and works through each exercise once, totaling 15 minutes. As it turns out, that is plenty of time to fire up your core.
Try these 8 best Pilates exercises that target your core, or read on to see how I got on putting this ab kettlebell workout to the test.
Watch the 15-minute ab kettlebell workout
You can follow the ab kettlebell workout via YouTube, and every exercise is timestamped, so you don’t need to faff back and forth if you want to cherry-pick exercises.
The best way to add intensity to this workout is by increasing your kettlebell weight, using two kettlebells, or adding extra rounds (Daniel PT Fitness recommends 2-3). I personally like to play with tempo and slow exercises to work my muscles for longer (a technique called time under tension (TUT)). I also recommend scaling down if you’re a beginner or you suffer from lower back pain.
Research — like this study published in the Journal of Human Kinetics — found that kettlebells are a creative way to improve your cardio, strength, and functional and neuromuscular power. In my opinion, they are far more versatile than dumbbells and incorporate well into functional resistance training and more complex exercises like kettlebell swings, hang cleans and unilateral training.
Because it requires more skill to control them, your core has to work even harder to balance and stabilize your body — particularly when using single-sided — which is why this ab kettlebell workout is a real core torcher.
I tried this 15-minute ab kettlebell workout — here’s what happened to my abs
Considering your core is responsible for stabilizing your torso, preventing injury, and even assisting movement, keeping it sturdy and strong should be a priority for us all using the best core exercises. But it’s no surprise that ab workouts can get repetitive, quickly slipping down the priority ladder.
I like that this ab kettlebell workout doesn’t just throw ab crunches and sit-ups at you, and while I enjoy a Russian twist (afterward), I am a bit bored of seeing them cropping up all the time. This ab workout is inventive and fun, working through all parts of your core using a mix of isometric (static contraction, like a plank hold) and isotonic exercises (think renegade rows).
I used an 8kg and 10kg kettlebell and switched out depending on the exercise. If you have issues with your lower back, I recommend starting light and modifying to avoid any twisting or unsupported movement — like with the half windmill and plank rotations. Or you can use your knees which is a great way to activate the same muscle groups without the pressure on your back.
15 exercises seem overwhelming, but you only visit them once, eliminating that sense of ‘oh no, not again’ you get from performing rounds. I found the first few rounds tough as you need a lot of shoulder stabilization in the second and third exercises, yet I really enjoy how quickly you kick up that satisfying burn in your abs, and I could feel it everywhere the next day.
Whether you’re looking for a punchy core finisher or want to build functional strength for resistance training, this ab kettlebell workout should be your new staple. If you’ve joined the kettlebell club and want more inspiration, try this killer kettlebell workout, Zac Efron’s Baywatch ab workout, or find out what happened when I tried this bodyweight Pilates ab workout.
Next: Read what happened when I tried this 15-minute abs workout with a million views.
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Sam Hopes is a level III fitness trainer, level II reiki practitioner, and senior fitness writer at Future PLC, the publisher of Tom's Guide. She is also about to undertake her Yoga For Athletes training course. Having trained to work with mind and body, Sam is a big advocate of using mindfulness techniques in sport and fitness, and their impact on performance. She’s also passionate about the fundamentals of training and building sustainable training methods. When she's not writing up her experiences with the latest fitness tech and workouts, you’ll find her writing about nutrition, sleep, recovery, and wellness.