Forget sit-ups — this 4-move kettlebell workout builds a stronger core and increases full-body strength

a man performing a kettlebell workout outside
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Not a fan of standard abs workouts that require you to lay on the floor and bash out as many sit ups and planks that your core can hack? We don't blame you. This is why we've found a versatile yet efficient core workout that only involves a kettlebell and four moves. 

Not only does this workout from fitness trainer Tanya Poppett work your deep core muscles, but it also works muscle all over your body all the while challenging your cardio fitness. Sound like a fun challenge? You just need to get your hands on one of the best kettlebells and you are ready to get stuck in. 

Poppett uses a 22lbs/10kg kettlebell for her workout but her focus isn't on how heavy you can lift and instead is on 'maintaining smooth and quality form'. With that in mind, pick a sensible weight that will allow you to complete the full workout and challenge your muscles. 

If you tend to workout at home over the gym then you should consider investing in an adjustable kettlebell which allows you to adjust the weight on demand without requiring multiple kettlebells.

BowFlex SelectTech 840 Kettlebell: was $199 now $149 @Amazon

BowFlex SelectTech 840 Kettlebell: was $199 now $149 @Amazon
The Bowflex SelectTech 840 is a great adjustable kettlebell for home workouts due to its versatile weight range, adjustable from 8 to 40 lbs with a simple dial turn, and its space-efficient design that replaces six individual kettlebells. However, Bowflex recently filed for bankruptcy, so while the kettlebell is still available, the associated app may not be supported for much longer.

How to do the 4-move kettlebell workout

If you have experience with a standard HIIT workout (High-Intensity Interval Training) then you'll know the drill with this routine. Except, you'll be adding some resistance making this a High-Intensity Resistance Training session (HIRT).

HIRT workouts involve performing resistance exercises at a high intensity with minimal rest between sets and the overall aim is to build strength and muscle while also boosting your cardiovascular fitness. 

So for this routine you'll be working on each move for 40 seconds, taking 20 seconds of rest between each exercise and repeating the full circuit a total of five times over. Be sure to have one of the best water bottles by your side for this workout as things are going to get sweaty and you'll want to keep your hydration levels strong.

Below is a list of the exercises and if you want to ensure you get the form right for each, you'll find Poppett's demonstrations underneath.

When you incorporate kettlebells into your HIIT training the weight requires continuous engagement of the core muscles. Exercises like swings, snatches, and cleans force your core to brace and control the kettlebell.

Therefore, the better your form the greater the engagement and the results can include stronger core muscles, better posture and reduced risk of injury in both sport and daily activities.

The additional weight is also a reliable way to boost your full-body strength. Kettlebell exercises are typically compound movements that engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously.

For example, movements like the kettlebell swing and clean and press work the legs, back, shoulders, and arms all at once. Not only is this an efficient way to workout but it’s also a useful tool for improving your functional strength.

Additionally, HIRT can help build on your muscle endurance. The high-intensity nature of these workouts, made up of short bursts of intense activity followed by brief rest periods, trains the muscles to sustain effort over time. This type of training is designed to improve both muscular and cardiovascular endurance.

Lastly, regular practice of this style of training will contribute to fat burn. The intense effort required for these workouts elevates the heart rate and increases caloric expenditure both during and after the workout.

Your body will experience an afterburn effect also known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), which essentially means that the body continues to burn calories at an elevated rate even after the workout is complete.

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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.