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Kettlebell Exercises for the Abs
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Kettlebells -- long a staple in Russian Olympic training -- burst onto the popular fitness scene a decade ago and now it's hard to find a modern gym without these unusually shaped pieces of exercise equipment. Kettlebells can easily replace dumbbells and resistance bands in a strength-training routine that targets your abdominals. Aim to work your abdominal muscles at least two times per week, leaving one full day in between training sessions to allow your muscles to rest.
Kettlebell Top Tips
The kettlebell is an alternative to dumbbells that has historic roots in Russia. The kettlebell is shaped like a cannonball with a handle attached to the top of it. One of the main benefits of working out with a kettlebell is the uneven distribution of weight that comes from the kettlebell's odd shape. According to Men's Health, the kettlebell shifts its center of gravity during the exercise, forcing the muscles to work harder. There are a few kettlebell exercises that specifically target your abdominal muscles: both the rectus abdominus, which runs down the front of your abdomen, and the obliques, running in a "V" along the sides of your waist.
Baby, I Can See Your Halo
The halo kettlebell exercise forces you to engage your abdominal muscles and deep inner core muscles. To perform this exercise, use a kettlebell that is light enough to lift comfortably over your head. Hold the kettlebell by the handle with both hands and lift it straight above your head. Engage your abdominal muscles by pulling your belly button back toward your spine. Slowly circle the kettlebell clockwise above your head for 10 to 15 repetitions, then reverse and circle the kettlebell counterclockwise. Return the kettlebell to the floor and repeat for two or three more sets.
The renegade row exercise described by Fitness magazine is a modified plank position that uses a kettlebell to really target your abdominal muscles. To perform a renegade row, position yourself in a high pushup, holding a kettlebell in your left hand. Lift the kettlebell to your chest for one count, keeping your elbow close to your body. For every other repetition, add a twist and curl your left shoulder and ribs open as you draw the kettlebell to your chest. Return to a high pushup and perform eight to 10 repetitions before switching sides. Work your way up to three sets on each side. If this is too difficult, drop both knees to the floor for extra balance.
Listed as one of Men's Health magazine's top 10 kettlebell exercises, the kettlebell windmill is an exercise that targets your entire core. To perform the kettlebell windmill, hold a kettlebell in your left hand and raise it above your head. Walk your feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart and turn your right toes out. Keep your left hand lifted toward the ceiling as you bend your torso to the right. Drop your right arm to the outside of your right shin and keep your shoulders stacked without leaning forward. You should feel the entire left side of your waist engage. Straighten back to standing and repeat for 10 to 15 repetitions before switching sides. Work your way up to three sets on each side.
Published author, yoga teacher and health and wellness expert Nicole Carlin has written professionally since 2005. Her two non-fiction books "Chakra Detox" and "Hot Yoga, Hotter Sex" reflect the rigorous academic knowledge she brings to the wellness industry. Carlin holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and a Master of Arts in sexuality.