The Best Kettlebell Ab Exercises to Target Your Obliques

Table of Contents

Key takeaways

Some of the best kettlebell exercises to include to train the obliques:

      • Russian twists
      • kettlebell windmills
      • kettlebell halos
      • standard kettlebell swings
      • Turkish get-up
      • kettlebell lunge with twist
      • kettlebell oblique side bend (NO! NO! NO! – don´t do these!)

Kettlebells and Obliques

When we aim to strengthen our core muscles we rarely think about targeting our obliques. Most people rather jump right into the abs topic – rarely considering a kettlebell abs workout, if at all.

But are you looking to strengthen your core and burn some belly fat? Kettlebell oblique exercises are a great way to do just that!

Kettlebell training in general is an effective and challenging way to work your abdominal muscles and oblique muscles, resulting in a strong and stable core.

These exercises not only help you to develop defined abs and obliques, but they also help to burn calories and improve your overall fitness.

In this post, we will take a look at some kettlebell ab workouts that you can try to target your oblique muscles and improve your core strength. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced fitness enthusiast, these exercises are sure to provide an effective and challenging workout.

Let’s get started!

Where are our obliques?

The oblique muscles are a group of abdominal muscles that are located on the sides of your core to the left and right of your abdomen. They are important for maintaining good muscle tone and stability in your core.

They also are responsible for rotating and lateral flexion of the torso, as well as providing stability to the spine and trunk.

The obliques are divided into two main groups: the external obliques, which are located on the outer sides of the abdomen, and the internal obliques, which are located beneath the external obliques.

Together, these muscles help to support and move the torso and are essential for many everyday activities such as reaching, twisting, and bending.

When you work your obliques, you help to burn belly fat and improve your overall muscle tone. By incorporating oblique exercises into your workout routine, you will strengthen these muscles and improve your core stability.

This will help you to achieve your fitness goals and improve your overall health and well-being.

illustration of oblique muscles

Are obliques the love handles?

The term “love handles” is often used colloquially to refer to the excess fat that accumulates on the sides of the abdomen, near the obliques.

However, the oblique muscles themselves are not the love handles.

In order to target the love handles and reduce their appearance, one would need to focus on reducing overall body fat through a combination of diet and exercise.

Additionally one should specifically target the oblique muscles through exercises such as those mentioned in this blog post.

How do you get toned obliques?

Some effective exercises for toning the obliques include the Russian twist, the Turkish get-up, the standard kettlebell swing, and the oblique side bend.

In addition to these exercises, it is also important to engage in regular cardiovascular activity and maintain a healthy diet in order to reduce overall body fat, start losing belly fat and reveal the toned muscles beneath.

Consistency and progressive overload (increasing the difficulty of the exercises over time) are also key factors in achieving toned obliques.

female athlete with kettlebell

The Best Kettlebell Oblique Exercises

Some of the best kettlebell exercises to include to train the obliques:

      • Russian twists
      • kettlebell windmills
      • kettlebell halos
      • standard kettlebell swings
      • Turkish get-up
      • kettlebell oblique side bend (NO! NO! NO!)
      • kettlebell lunge with twist

Russian twists

To perform a Russian twist with a kettlebell, start in a seated position on the ground with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent.

    1. Hold the kettlebell in front of your chest with both hands.
    2. Engage your core muscles and lean back slightly, keeping your back straight.
    3. From this position, twist your torso to the right and then to the left, swinging the kettlebell across your body as you twist.

Make sure to keep your entire core tight and use your core muscles to control the movement of the kettlebell.

Repeat for several reps, or for the desired amount of time.

It’s important to keep good form and to avoid using momentum or swinging the kettlebell wildly from side to side, as this can cause injury.

animated gif of the kettlebell russian twist

Kettlebell Windmills

To perform a kettlebell windmill, start by holding a kettlebell in one hand and extending it straight up above your shoulder.

    1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and point your feet in the opposite direction of the hand holding the kettlebell (for example, if you’re holding the kettlebell in your right hand, point your feet to the left).
    2. Place the foot that is opposite from the hand holding your kettlebell slightly in front of your other foot. From this position, bend at the waist and reach your free hand towards the ground.
    3. At the same time always hold your kettlebell straight up. As you do this, keep your eyes on the kettlebell and try to touch the ground with your hand without letting the kettlebell move.
    4. Once you’ve touched the ground, use your core muscles to straighten back up, returning to the starting position.
    5. Repeat for several reps, then switch sides and repeat with the other arm.
kettlebell windmill

Kettlebell Halos

Kettlebell halos are a great core exercise for building strength and also improving your shoulder mobility.

Here’s how to do them:

    1. Your starting position is with your feet hip-width apart, holding a kettlebell upside down by the horns in both hands in front of your chest.
    2. Raise the kettlebell up and over your head to one side, then lower it behind your head and around to the other side.
    3. Continue this circular motion, moving the kettlebell in a halo pattern around your head.
    4. As you move the kettlebell, be sure to keep your core engaged and your shoulders relaxed.
    5. Perform the exercise for a set number of reps or for a set amount of time.

Always pay attention to keeping the right form and keep your kettlebell controlled through all movement patterns.

kettlebell halo

Standard Kettlebell Swings

The standard kettlebell swing is another excellent kettlebell exercise that will work multiple muscle groups. It helps to build strength in your entire core and also targets your glutes.

The kettlebell swing is not a shoulder exercise although many people think so! The shoulders have no work in moving the kettlebell at all…

To perform the kettlebell swing, follow these steps:

    1. Start by standing with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with a kettlebell placed on the floor in front of your body. Your feet and the kettlebell should create a triangle with the kettlebell being the tip of the triangle.
    2. Grip your kettlebell with both hands, engage your core, bend your knees slightly, pick the kettlebell from the ground and let it swing back between your legs.
    3. As you swing the kettlebell back, push your hips back and hinge at the waist.
    4. As the kettlebell swings back up, squeeze your glutes and thrust your hips forward to swing the kettlebell up to shoulder height.
    5. As the kettlebell reaches the top of the swing, let it float for a moment before allowing it to swing back down between your legs again.
    6. Continue swinging the kettlebell in this manner, keeping your core engaged and your movements fluid and controlled.
kettlebell swing russian style

This is a Russian-style kettlebell swing. Alternatively, you could do an American-style kettlebell swing.

It differs from the Russian-style swing in point 4.

The swing in the American-style kettlebell swing does not end at shoulder height, but it goes all the way above your head.

kettlebell swing american style

Turkish get-up

The Turkish get-up is an excellent kettlebell core workout but at the same time, it also improves shoulder mobility and targets a number of other muscle groups as well.

To perform the Turkish get-up:

    1. Your starting position is lying flat on your back with one kettlebell held vertically up with one arm and the other arm extended perpendicular from your body. If you hold the kettlebell with your right arm, your right knee should be bent.
    2. Now lift your upper body off the ground and at the same time slightly roll over onto the elbow of your “empty” arm. Then extend this arm so that you finally end up in a half-seated position.
    3. With your kettlebell still straight above you, raise your hip off the ground and pull your left leg through under your body, so that you end up in a half-kneeling position, similar to a lunge.
    4. Push yourself up into a standing position. Always keep your eyes fixed on the kettlebell.
    5. Once you are in the standing position, reverse this movement pattern until you are back in the starting position. Then repeat.
kettlebell turkish getup

This kettlebell exercise can be very demanding and proper form is an absolute must here!

If you are unsure about how to perform the Turkish get-up, then please consider seeking advice from a personal trainer.

As with all kettlebell exercises that also target stability, always start with a lighter kettlebell to avoid injuries.

Kettlebell Oblique Side Bend

NO! You don´t want to do this exercise for a strong and stable core and you definitely do not want to do this exercise to sculpt your midsection, including your obliques!

We had to place this here because this misconception is so common that we need to point out the uselessness of this exercise for your obliques.

Our obliques are built for rotational movements, so forget the oblique side bend and better do this exercise:

Kettlebell Lunge With Twist

The kettlebell lunge with twist is an exercise that includes a lunge forward and a twisting / rotational movement. To perform the kettlebell lunge with twist follow these steps:

    1. Start in an upright standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart and your kettlebell held in front of your chest
    2. make one lunge step forward with your right leg and while still in the lowering phase of the movement start twisting your upper body to the right side.
    3. Reverse this movement on the way up.
    4. Repeat with your left leg

Always make sure to keep a proper form throughout your exercises! Remember, core exercises do not need any momentum and a kettlebell ab workout is not meant to push your heart rate all the way to the max.

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Maybe you are also interested in our other kettlebell articles about kettlebell back workout and kettlebell shoulder workouts.

If you are into kettlebell training in general, then  you should also check out the excellent website from the Swiss kettlebell expert “Lebestark” here!

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