Bored with your regular abs workout? These exercises will help you switch it up
Doing the same moves to build a strong core can feel tedious. But if you have a kettlebell, you can instantly expand your repertoire of ab exercises, and make the workouts that forge a strong core as different as they are challenging and effective.
Eric Leija, creator of the Men’s Health Kettlehell program, offers you the following six kettlebell moves. Add one at a time to your existing workouts, and cycle through them (give each move at least four weeks, trained at least once per week, to yield results). “You can do them in between sets of other exercises, at the end of your workout, or, if your abs are a major weakness, do them first in the session,” says Leija.
“All of these lifts train your posterior chain in addition to your abs,” says Leija. (The posterior chain refers to the muscles on the back side of your body—primarily the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.) “Strengthening the posterior will help prevent lower-back pain,” which can be aggravated by conventional ab exercises.
1. Bridge to Situp
- Step 1. Hold a kettlebell in front of your chest and lie back on the floor. Bend your knees and plant your feet flat.
- Step 2. Perform a sit-up, and then roll your torso back to the floor. Brace your core, and drive through your heels raise your hips into the air—be careful not to hyperextend your lower back at the top. Lower your hips back down. That’s one rep.
2. Two-Step Getup
- Step 1. Lie on the floor holding a kettlebell in your right hand. Extend your left leg straight in front of you and place your right foot on the floor close to your butt.
- Step 2. Press the weight overhead and raise your torso off the floor, using your left hand to support you. Roll yourself back down to the floor. Complete 5 reps on that side, and then switch sides and repeat.
3. Russian Twist to Quick Twist
- Step 1. Sit on the floor and place a kettlebell on the floor at your side. Extend your legs in front of you but keep a bend in both knees and raise your heels slightly above the floor.
- Step 2. Grasp the weight and pull it over and across your body to rest on the floor on the opposite side. Immediately let go and twist your torso back to the first side and touch the floor. Come back to grasp the kettlebell and repeat the process to the other side. Each twist is one rep.
4. Pullover to Sit-Up
- Step 1. Lie on your back on the floor and hold a kettlebell overhead with both hands. Bend your knees so that your feet are planted close to your butt. Tuck your pelvis under so your lower back is flat to the ground and brace your core.
- Step 2. Reach your arms back behind you until the kettlebell is just above the floor (you’ll feel a stretch in your lats).
- Step 3. Bend your elbows as you pull the weight back overhead and in front of your chest. Now perform a sit-up. Lower yourself back down with control.
5. Weighted Hollow Rock
- Step 1. Lie back on the floor holding a kettlebell overhead with both hands. Extend your legs in front of you and tuck your pelvis so that your lower back is flat against the floor. Brace your core.
- Step 2. Begin rocking your body back and forth, maintaining a tight core to keep your hollow body position. One rock forward and back equals one rep.
6. Side-to-Side V-Up
- Step 1. Place a kettlebell on the floor and sit behind it. Place your hands on the floor at your. Raise your legs up and brace your core.
- Step 2. Begin hopping your feet over the kettlebell, lowering them to one side and then the other—but do not touch the floor or the kettlebell. Each time over the kettlebell is one rep.