You don’t need crunches to build a stronger core — use this 5-minute kettlebell workout instead

Man doing kettlebell ab workout
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Whether you love or loathe doing the best core workouts, it’s likely you don’t enjoy spending longer than you need to subjecting your abs to the burn. Thankfully, you don’t need to spend hours and hours jumping from planks to sit ups to death by crunches. You can get a solid ab burn in as little as five minutes.

All you’ll need is access to one of the best kettlebells and the readiness to pick up five core strengthening exercises strung together by fitness trainer Jay Maryniak. Sadly, doing one kettlebell workout won’t carve out a set of washboard abs overnight. But, familiarizing yourself with exercises that challenge your core, adding in some resistance and being consistent will help you get you closer to your core strengthening goals.

Ready to do just that? Scoop up your kettlebell and give this five minute routine a go. 

Yes4All Kettlebell: was $29 now $19 @ Amazon

Yes4All Kettlebell: was $29 now $19 @ Amazon
Increase the challenge of your resistance training with the Yes4All 15lb/7kg kettlebell. Encased in a vinyl coating, this kettlebell is not only made to make minimal noise when training but it's designed to last. The wide handle is slightly textured to ensure you get good grip no matter how sweaty your sessions get.

What is the 5 minute kettlebell workout? 

We weren’t lying when we said this routine only takes five minutes to complete. You’ll be working on each exercise for 50 seconds — for the unilateral moves remember to switch halfway through.

With this in mind, take care when selecting what size of kettlebell to work with in this workout. If you start too heavy, you may find it hard to maintain proper form throughout the whole session. 

No matter what weight you opt for, you should take 10 seconds of rest between each move. So be sure to place down the weight by your side for the short interval and allow your muscles a moment to recover before the next exercise. 

  1. Kneeling Wood Choppers
  2. Plank Saws 
  3. 1/4 Get Ups 
  4. Core Twist + Sit Up 
  5. Hollow Flutter Kicks 

Structured as a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) routine, this five-minute kettlebell workout is designed to make strengthening your core as efficient as possible. 

The combination of strength and endurance exercises performed in quick succession will help promote muscle hypertrophy and fat loss, which in turn is what contributes to building a leaner and more defined core. Additionally, the brief rest intervals will keep the heart rate elevated, this can help boost your metabolism and contribute to fat-burning efforts.

Thanks to the variety of exercises in Maryniak’s routine, you’ll be targeting multiple muscles within your core, including the abdominal muscles. From rotational movements like kneeling wood choppers to static holds like plank saws, each exercise challenges the core muscles in different ways to help improve definition and build greater levels of strength and stability in the core.

Additionally, incorporating dynamic movements such as 1/4 get-ups and woodchoppers engages not only the core but also other muscle groups, like your arms and shoulders. But if you're looking to torch your upper body muscles, you'll need to include some more exercises specially tailored to this for better results.

On that note, you should strive to incorporate a variety of workouts into your fitness routine anyway. This not only prevents boredom and plateaus but also ensures that different muscle groups are targeted, promoting balanced strength development and reducing the risk of overuse injuries. 

Finally, it's crucial to remember that every fitness routine should prioritize rest and nutrition. Rest days allow the body to recover and adapt to the stresses of exercise, prevent burnout and support muscle repair and growth. 

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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.