Kettlebell Core Exercises by JLFITNESSMIAMI

The Ultimate Advanced Kettlebell Core Exercise Guide

There's tons of core exercises you can do with kettlebells but in this post we are going to over some lesser known ones.

We will go over core exercises that use:

✔️ 1 and 2 kettlebells
✔️ Your lower body- for added efficiency
✔️ Locomotion
✔️ Rotation

Why core exercises with kettlebells?

We all know core exercises target your abs. But true "core" is also about using your hips, glutes, back and shoulders. Kettlebell core exercises also require tons of mobility. Mobility that will improve the quality of your life or performance in your sport. 

Sometimes you'll use your core without even knowing it, like when you do unilateral front squats or single arm chest presses.

Kettlebell core exercises also require skill, focus and practice. 

Plus they're a lot more fun than just doing traditional crunches or sit ups.

Advanced Kettlebell Exercises

#1 Kettlebell Plank with Horizontal Rotation

Tips on how to do it:

✔️ Grab a manageable weight. Not too heavy, not too light.
✔️ Avoid rotating your hips upward as you shift the kettlebell from side to side.
✔️ Make it more challenging by narrowing your stance. To make it easier, do the reverse.

#2 Static Beast with Anti-Rotation

Tips on how to do it:

✔️ Similar to the exercise above, try to avoid rotating your hips upward as you move the kettlebell.
✔️ Your knees should be hovering 1-2 inches from the ground.
✔️ No need to use a heavy kettlebell with this one. The position alone is going to be challenging by itself.

#3 Gorilla Cleans

You can't sprint or run fast or jump rope? This is a great alternative to performing some of those heart pumping movements. But it does come with a bit of a learning curve.

Tips on how to do it:

✔️ Use your knees in a bouncing motion to move the kettlebells side to side.
✔️ Place the kettlebell in the rack position but a more outward to create more room for the kettlebells to move in the middle in front of you.
✔️ This exercise is a bit more complicated so here's a very short video of it in action:

#4 Kettlebell Sit-Throughs

Tips on how to do it:

✔️ Don't let the arm that is carrying kettlebell go too away from your body.
✔️ Keep your top arm straight. 
✔️ You'll notice the figure does not go all the way up to top of the kneeling position. This is on purpose, this way your obliques will stay engaged through out the movement.
✔️ Make your neck long and tall. Don't slouch at your shoulders.

#5 Goblet Squat Press Outs

This exercise will target your front delts, forearms, core and lower body strength. Lower body static strength is so underrated. This position is similar to a popular lower bodyweight exercise called "horse stance". It's an effective way to keep your legs strong and durable without adding weights. Try it, hold the bottom position for 20 seconds with good posture. 

Tips on how to do it:

✔️ Place yourself in a wide stance to allow yourself to get into a deep position. 
✔️ Point your toes a bit outward.
✔️ A heavy kettlebell is not necessary or recommended. 
✔️ Try to hold your arm out with the kettlebell in front of you for a full second on each rep. 

#6 Static Bridge Presses

Tips on how to do it:

✔️ Think about actively pushing the ground away from you with your heels. 
✔️ Squeeze your butt throughout the movement.

#7 Half Kneeling Press with Bottoms Ups Hold

Tips on how to do it:

✔️ Keep the arm that is carrying the kettlebell at a 90 degree angle. This kettlebell shouldn't be heavy.
✔️ Create tension on your midsection by bracing your abdominals to put yourself on a more stable position. 
✔️  Press the kettlebell in a controlled manner, not with haste.

#8 Beast Rows

Tips on how to do it:

✔️ Don't use very light kettlebells with this movement as it will not be sturdy enough to help you stay in position. 
✔️  Your knees should be hovering 1-2 inches from the ground. Just with like the Static Beast With Anti-Rotation.
✔️ Take your time with the rows. Bring the kettlebell slowly back to the ground. 

#9 Renegade Rows

To do the previous exercise, try doing this one well first.

Tips on how to do it:

✔️ Keep your feet wide apart. This will help you be more stable throughout the exercise. 
✔️ Take your time with the rows. Bring the kettlebell slowly back to the ground. 

#10 Half Kneeling Offset Kettlebell Get Up

Tips on how to do it:

✔️ Keep the top arm about 4-6 inches from your head. 
✔️ You'll have to get on your knees at the bottom position with this one so pick a soft ground or use knee braces or knee pads.

#11 Curtsy Step Downs

This one is a great example on using your core and legs.

Tips on how to do it:

✔️ Think of shooting your hips back, putting most of your weight on your heel. This will also make your glutes work harder.
✔️ Lower yourself with control, maybe even sticking to a 2-3 second lowering phase. 

#12 Around the World

This movement is also great to warm up the shoulders. 

Tips on how to do it:

✔️ I wouldn't suggest using a light kettlebell for this exercise.
✔️ Stay at a consistent pace, there's no need to go fast.

#13 Half Kneeling Windmill

You will mainly engage the obliques, but this movement has mobility, flexibility, stability and core strength all stitched up together.

Tips on how to do it:

✔️ Don't let the top arm sway too far from your head.
✔️ It's not necessary to place your forearm on the ground as shown in the image (however this places greater demand on the obliques). You can place your hand if you have limited flexibility/strength.

#14 Half Kneeling Windmill + Sit Through Combo

This one is quite the sequence! We are combing a half kneeling windmill and a sit through. 

Tips on how to do it:

✔️ A heavy kettlebell is not necessary or recommended for this one. 
✔️ Complete the half kneeling windmill first BUT before you return to the top position, perform the sit through portion of the exercise where you kick out your leg in front of you. 

#15 Double Kettlebell Windmill

The windmill with 1 kettlebell is very common, but I don't often see the movement done with 2 kettlebells. It's like your core is being challenged by 2 sides; on one side you have to keep a kettlebell stable on top of you and in the other side, a kettlebell is trying to drag you down to the ground. That's a lot!

Tips on how to do it:

✔️ Keep a soft bend at the knees. A common mistake I see is people do is keeping their legs straight and this doesn't allow for your hips to move laterally efficiently. 
✔️ Exaggerate your posture by shooting your hips to the side. 
✔️ If you want to challenge yourself use a heavier kettlebell with the bottom arm. This is also a safer approach. 

#16 Turkish Get Up

The king of kettlebell core exercises! It's a graceful movement that isn't done enough. Part of the reason is because it's difficult to do. It requires patience, skill, control, and fluidity. It has a longer, more meaningful sequence. If you want to improve hip and thoracic spine mobility. If you want to get stronger shoulders and hips and have a stronger midsection then this is the movement to do. 

I included a video with this one because the sequence is very detailed. 

#17 Rotational Cleans

Many of the core exercises on this list work on stability, anti-rotation, 

Tips on how to do it:

✔️ When you toss the kettlebell away from you, don't let your arm disconnect itself from it's socket.
✔️ Keep the kettlebell close to your body as it moves to the other side, but be mindful of your knees on the way down. If the kettlebell travels too close to you, it might hit it.
✔️ Here's a short video on how to do it:

The Workouts

Core Workouts with 1 and 2 kettlebells

About this workout:

Exercise #1
is a deceptively challenging exercise, that's why I also included an alternative if you're not ready for it yet. The best part is that you don't even need a heavy kettlebell for it. Bottoms up presses or holds requires an immense amount of abdominal tension.

Think of what you would do or react if someone was about to punch you in the stomach? Hopefully you'll brace your stomach to stiffen your midsection. This core rigidity is what's required for this movement. 

For Exercise #2 you'll want to try your very best to glue your back to the bench as you bring back the kettlebell towards you. The kettlebell will want to roll you off the bench on the way down, it's your job to not let it do that. 

Exercise #3 requires a lot of core stability to keep your spine in a good position while rowing. To get your spine in the best position possible think about shooting your hips back to elongate your spine. If you remain to upright you'll target your trapezius muscles instead of the muscles of the middle back like your rhomboids and lats. 

I suggest to do Exercise #4 either on a soft ground or use a pad to place underneath your knee. This is the first exercise on this list that adds a bit of rotation. Grab the kettlebells by the horns and push your arms out in front of you. The longer your arms are placed the more challenging it will be. If you're getting too tired or if you don't have a lighter kettlebell for this exercise, then keep your arms some what bent. What I also like about this exercise is the stretch you will feel at the front of the hips while the kettlebell is a the top position.

Exercise #5 is one of the more traditional core exercises you can do with a kettlebell. It's so useful because it also works on mobility. Mobility of the neck as you're looking up at the kettlebell. Mobility at the hips as you shoot your hips to the side. It greatly challenges abs, oblique and shoulder stability all the while working on hamstring flexibility on the way down. Don't concern yourself in going all the way down if you can't. Work through a range of motion that is suitable for you and little by little you can go further down.

Also, sometimes it will take a few reps for your body to loosen up to do this movement well. Especially if you're body is cold. 

Mixing Kettlebell and Bodyweight Core Exercises

You have a little bit of everything in this workout; rotation, locomotion and a lot of trunk stability. Primal movements like Exercise #1 goes very well with kettlebell training. 

Exercise #4 encourages a neutral spine and relieves low back pain. It also helps promote proper posture and spinal awareness, something that goes a long way in kettlebell training.

Core Workout- Lower Body Focused

This is a core workout that will burn more calories than the other ones because it focuses on a bigger muscle group; the lower body. The rest period is also slightly longer to help you recover between movements. 

Exercise #2 has more of a complicated set up, but one that is worth it in my opinion. It really does require you to be explosive with your hips.

A Chest and Back Workout that Is also great for your abs

This is probably the most challenging workout on this page. Exercise #1 has a very subtle trunk rotation. Exercise #2 is a little hard to get into but very useful. Make sure to actively squeeze your butt throughout the exercise. Don't use heavy kettlebells with this one. Exercise #3 is one I always recommend to runners in particular. Even though it doesn't look like it will, your hamstrings is going to work hard to keep you stable. This movement also requires lower body stability from the ankle and tibia not to mention how much your glute muscles will fire. The rowing part strengthens your back and core. All things that are useful to runners and non-runners alike.  

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