In the quest for stronger abs, it’s easy to get stuck in an endless cycle of crunches, planks, and sit-ups. But have you ever considered adding weights to your core workouts with a kettlebell?
Kettlebells are a great way to develop your core as the off-center weights challenge your balance. Plus, increasing the load during sit-ups and squats makes the move more challenging for your muscles.
If you don't have a kettlebell at home, check out our guide to the best kettlebells to find one that's right for you. Alternatively, you can use a dumbbell or even a full water bottle in its place.
This workout from fitness trainer Ella-Mae Rayner is a circuit of six bodyweight and kettlebell moves designed to challenge your core muscles. You'll do each move back-to-back without a break, rest for 60 seconds, then repeat the circuit three times.
Watch Ella-Mae Rayner's abs workout
A photo posted by on
It's an intense routine, so you'll feel the burn in around your mid-section. If it becomes too challenging, you can add short rest periods between moves or try doing the exercises without the kettlebell while you develop strength.
People often compare abs vs core training, but this routine tackles both, so you strengthen your rectus abdominis six-pack ab muscle and build core strength in a single routine.
Throughout the workout, think about squeezing the active muscles and making your movements slow and controlled. It might seem like a strange ask, but this action (known as mind-muscle connection) has been found to increase activity in the targeted muscles.
You should also avoid using momentum for exercises like Turkish sit-ups, during which you might be tempted to jerk your torso upwards and take some strain off your stomach muscles. Instead, focus on using your core muscle to move your body at a consistent pace.
If you're looking for other ways to use your kettlebell, try this full-body workout, or focus on your upper body with this four-move session. Rayner’s abs circuit will pair well with either of these workouts, so consider performing it at the end of these other sessions for a quick core-focused finisher.
Get the Fit&Well Newsletter
Start your week with achievable workout ideas, health tips and wellbeing advice in your inbox.
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.
You don’t need weights to build strength—try this coach’s seven-move bodyweight workout instead
Workout Strengthen your muscles, bones, joints and muscles while boosting your metabolism with this strength training workout
By Harry Bullmore Published
Strengthen your arms and shoulders in minutes with this three-move kettlebell workout that's perfect for beginners
Lower body Train your upper body with this three-move kettlebell workout
By Lou Mudge Published