To fully understand just how vital your core muscles are, it helps to know exactly what makes up your core. A lot of guys will think “core” is synonymous with “abs,” but that's not entirely true. Sure, your core does include your abdominal muscles, but as Fitlab states, “your core is a group of more than 20 muscles in the lower back, stomach and hips - the abs are a small fraction of this large and dynamic muscle group.” And strengthening them is the key to functional strength (and maybe shredded abs too).
Picture your core as a sturdy, stable cylinder around your spine and vital organs. Harvard Medical School refers to it as “a central link in a chain connecting your upper and lower body.” Whether you're hitting a tennis ball, climbing a mountain or just mopping the floor, the motions will either originate in your core, or move through it. No matter where the motion starts, it ripples upward and downward to adjoining links of that proverbial chain. Thus, weak or inflexible core muscles can impair how well your arms and legs function.
Several studies have shown that core strength training can reduce back pain and prevent injuries. And other research has found a relationship between core strength training and improved athletic performance. Convinced? Of course you are. So now the question is: What’s the best way to train your core? Nowadays, personal trainers seem to agree that kettlebells are far superior than standard crunches or planks.
Why? Well, because your core muscles are meant for far more complex movements—twisting and turning, while you're balancing, managing weight or being explosive. Kettlebells can do all this for you because they work your muscles as a team, rather than independently. Fitness trainer Cameron Martin, founder of The Martin Method, is a kettlebell master. He recently shared a relatively simple core workout on Instagram using a heavy kettlebell that, once you get the hang of it and perform it regularly, will have you looking leaner and feeling stronger, not to mention more stable, in no time.
1. Single Suitcase Deadlifts: Stand with one kettlebell placed at your side, handle positioned vertically. Hinge at the hips by pushing your glutes back and start bending from the knees to grab the kettlebell. Keeping your hips and shoulders level, and nose inline with the belly button, push the earth away as you move towards a tall standing position and repeat.
2. Heavy Holds & Marches: Grab the kettlebell and hold (not by the top of the handle but by each side of the handle) in front of your chest. From this position, brace your midsection and march in place. Draw your knees up above the waist band (or as high as you’re able to) and avoid rocking side to side due to the weight while you march. Alternate legs for as long as you can.
3. Heavy Kettlebell Swings: Keep feet about ten inches from kettlebell, toes can be aligned or pointed out. Set the hips, by pushing your glutes back. Driving through your heels, explode through your hips to send the weight swinging upward from your quads. Aim for chest height, with your arms extended, and repeat.>
*Luxe Weights: Pent makes some of the most handsome kettlebells we’ve ever seen, crafted from polished metal and oiled Americanwalnut wood.