Want to build core strength? Skip the crunches and do this kettlebell deadlift workout

You don't need sit-ups or crunches to work your abs and develop your core, just this four-move kettlebell routine

Woman performing single-leg Romanian deadlifts
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Crunches and sit-ups are some of the most fundamental ab workouts, but there are other options if you want to build core strength. Instead, you can use this four-move kettlebell workout to strengthen your core, work your whole body, and boost your metabolism. 

All you need to get started is one of the best kettlebells (opens in new tab) and a bit of space. These versatile weights make a great companion for at-home workouts, as moves like kettlebell swings and presses work your whole body. Plus, a kettlebell is much easier to store away than an entire weights rack or several dumbbells. 

This three-move routine comes from fitness coach and founder of It's So Simple (opens in new tab), Rachel Sacerdoti, who explains that kettlebells are her "favorite pieces of equipment and [are] a brilliant piece of kit to use when performing deadlift variations."

Rather than focus on swings and upper body moves, Sacerdoti's program is designed around kettlebell deadlifts, with conventional lifts alongside Romanian, Sumo, and single-leg Romanian deadlift variations. You'll do 12 repetitions of each exercise and repeat the routine three times for a muscle-building workout.

When you learn how to deadlift with dumbbells (opens in new tab), you usually hold a weight in each hand, but you only need a single kettlebell for this routine. This works alternative muscles, as the weight is concentrated in a different area, helping work your core for stability and developing lower body strength. 

Watch Rachel Sacerdoti's four-move kettlebell workout

A post shared by Rachael Sacerdoti (@itssosimple_rs) (opens in new tab)

A photo posted by on

Although the technique is similar between dumbbell and kettlebell deadlifts, you can follow Sacerdoti's demonstrations to perfect your form before starting. This is essential if you want to get the most from your training and avoid injuring yourself, which can be a concern when exercising with weights. 

Sacerdoti uses a 35lb/16kg kettlebell for these four deadlift variations, but the aim is to find a weight that will challenge your muscles without affecting your form. Adjustable kettlebells can help with this as you can quickly adjust the load, but they are generally more expensive than fixed-load options like those you'd find at the gym. 

If you want to put your new skills to good use, this kettlebell workout for beginners (opens in new tab) is a great place to start. You'll also take on goblet squats, bent-over rows, and weighted lunges alongside deadlifts. But one of the most impactful moves for working your whole body is the kettlebell swing. 

Learning how to do kettlebell swings (opens in new tab) is one of the best ways to build full-body strength, work your core, and raise your heart rate to boost your metabolism and burn fat. Just be sure you keep your protein levels up to promote muscle growth by adding one of the best protein powders for weight loss (opens in new tab) to your post-workout routine. 

James Frew
Staff Writer

James is a London-based journalist and Staff Writer at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.


In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.