A trainer reveals the "one exercise you’re not doing to improve your core strength"

Strengthen your mid-body muscles and develop your stability with this core exercise

A man holding a kettlebell in the front rack position
(Image credit: Getty Images / Westend61)

Core training can feel monotonous if you keep falling back on the same few moves; planks, sit-ups, crunches, you get the picture. 

These might be the best-known core strengthening exercises, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only options. 

If you’re looking to broaden your core training horizons, Sweat app trainer Cass Olholm has shared "one exercise you’re not doing to improve your core strength": the single-arm kettlebell front rack squat.  

How to do the single-arm kettlebell front rack squat

  • Stand upright with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart. 
  • Hold a kettlebell in your right hand in a front rack position. To do this, lift the kettlebell up to your shoulder. Raise your right elbow out to your side so the handle is in your right hand and the bell is resting outside it on your upper arm. 
  • Keeping your chest up and your back straight, push your hips back to initiate the squatting movement. 
  • Bend your knees to lower your torso as far as you can while keeping your chest up, then drive through your feet to return to the starting position. 

Why is the single-arm kettlebell front rack squat an effective core exercise

This looks like a leg exercise at first glance. After all, it’s your lower-body joints doing the moving, with the muscles in your thighs and backside largely responsible for powering you back up to a standing position. 

But the key to successful core training can often be in what isn’t moving. You see, your core is a group of mid-body muscles reaching from the front of your hips up to your diaphragm. And one of its most important roles is maintaining your posture and positioning by stabilizing your spine.

During this exercise, you’re supporting an extra weight positioned away from your body's center of mass, with the kettlebell held both in front of you and off to one side. This is constantly pulling you off balance, particularly while performing a challenging move like a squat, so your core muscles have to work hard to keep you upright. 

Don’t believe me? Try four sets of 10 to 12 repetitions of the single-arm kettlebell front rack squat on each arm and see how your core feels.

Exercises like this will improve your core strength, core stability and core endurance, boosting your ability to control the motion of your spine and maintain good posture. This can benefit your sporting performance and decrease your risk of back injuries, as a strong core can spare the spine from excessive loads during daily life. 

Need some new equipment for your home workouts? Our guide to the best kettlebells can help

Harry Bullmore
Fitness Writer

Harry Bullmore is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering accessible home workouts, strength training session, and yoga routines. He joined the team from Hearst, where he reviewed products for Men's Health, Women's Health, and Runner's World. He is passionate about the physical and mental benefits of exercise, and splits his time between weightlifting, CrossFit, and gymnastics, which he does to build strength, boost his wellbeing, and have fun.

Harry is a NCTJ-qualified journalist, and has written for Vice, Learning Disability Today, and The Argus, where he was a crime, politics, and sports reporter for several UK regional and national newspapers.