All you need is one kettlebell and five moves to build a strong, sculpted core
Boost your balance and improve your core strength with these kettlebell exercises
A strong core is the foundation of a fit and functional body, so it pays to dedicate time to training your trunk.
This session from fitness trainer Kirsty Hendey uses five kettlebell exercises to challenge all your midsection muscles, making it a great way to upgrade your usual sit-up-centric abs workouts.
To try this session for yourself, perform each core strengthening exercise for 30 seconds, take a 10-second rest, then complete the same movement for a further 30 seconds. If it’s a single-arm exercise, switch which arm you're using after the 10-second break.
After you’ve done two 30-second rounds of an exercise, rest for a minute then move on to the next one. Once you've finished all five, the workout is complete.
You might be new to some of the moves in Hendey’s workout, so watch her video below for a demonstration of how to perform each one with the correct technique.
Watch Kirsty Hendey's kettlebell core workout
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Many people confuse abs vs core training, but there is a distinct difference between the two. The term “abs” is usually used to refer to the rectus abdominis—the muscles on the front of your stomach responsible for the six-pack shape.
However, the core is more complex, consisting of the abs and other deep-lying muscles responsible for vital functions like supporting your spine, as well as powering twisting and bending movements.
This session from Hendey provides a comprehensive core workout, hitting lesser-known muscles like the transversus abdominis and obliques. As a result, it boasts benefits such as boosting your balance and protecting you from future lower back pain by taking strain away from this area.
To get the most out of this workout, try not to use momentum to motor through the exercises. Instead, focus on using your core to control each movement as this will utilize mind-muscle connection, which has been shown to increase activity in the targeted muscles.
Another form tip to follow is to keep your spine neutral (straight) during the bear crawl kettlebell drag and plank north to south exercises. This will be challenging for your core while also minimizing your chance of injury.
If you don’t have any equipment at home, try this 15 minute abs workout instead, which exclusively uses bodyweight exercises. Or, if you’re short on time, this sit-up-free session works your core with just two moves.
Alice Porter is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle topics including health, fitness and wellness. She is particularly interested in women's health, strength training and fitness trends and writes for publications including Stylist Magazine, Refinery29, The Independent and Glamour Magazine. Like many other people, Alice's personal interest in combining HIIT training with strength work quickly turned into a CrossFit obsession and she trains at a box in south London. When she's not throwing weights around or attempting handstand push-ups, you can probably find her on long walks in nature, buried in a book or hopping on a flight to just about anywhere it will take her.
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