Strengthening your core has many benefits for your overall health and well-being. It is made up of many groups of muscles centered around the torso. This includes abs, lower back, pelvis, and hips. This network of muscles is responsible for balance and stability allowing your arms, legs, and spine to move in unison. As we age we tend to not use these muscles as frequently which leads to a weakened core. These kettlebell exercises help to solve that problem without exerting too much stress on the body.
5 Simple Kettlebell Core Strengthening Exercises
Unfortunately, no one can stop father time and growing old is inevitable. After decades of use, our body gets worn down and simple physical tasks require more effort. This is especially true during the retirement years when people stop working typically between the ages 60 to 65. It’s easy to say that one has earned the rest after many years of working, however, too much rest may require depending on others.
The best solution for enjoying retirement while not neglecting your body is to engage in regular exercise. Using a kettlebell is an excellent way to work many muscles simultaneously. While there are definitely strenuous kettlebell exercises, the following 5 are easy but effective. These are great for seniors but are beneficial to anyone of any age. By performing them from anywhere between 10 to 30 minutes a day, you’ll gain the strength, stability, and mobility necessary to enjoy those golden years.
Kettlebell Dead Bug
This first kettlebell exercise sounds gross but is aptly named. I’m sure everyone has come across a dead bug or insect with its back on the floor and legs pointing up towards the ceiling. That’s where this concept comes from as it requires you to mimic that posture. While a bodyweight variation of this exercise exists, using a kettlebell will provide the best benefits.
There are a few different interpretations for the kettlebell dead bug. One has you holding the kettlebell with one hand while lowering the free arm in conjunction with the opposite side leg. Another has you doing pullovers and alternating which leg is lowered. For simplicity’s sake, the above video by fitness instructor Marcus Filly is our recommended variation for seniors.
In the video, you see Marcus holding a kettlebell of medium weight overhead with two hands. He has both legs raised in a bent fashion and then alternates extending and lowering each leg by touching the heel to the floor. Each time a leg is lowered constitutes 1 rep. If desired you may set a timer to perform as many reps as possible in that time frame or do a specific set of reps of say 10 or 20 reps.
It doesn’t get any simpler than the kettlebell carry exercise. Anyone can literally pick up a kettlebell and correctly perform it. Like the previous exercise, listed there are a few different methods. The most basic of them is the suitcase carry. As the name implies, the kettlebell is held by the side while you walk a set amount of distance. Watch the video below to see this variation along with several others.
Even if you don’t own a kettlebell, any object with a handle and a fair amount of weight will suffice. Also known as a farmer’s walk, the suitcase carry works a variety of muscles. These include the glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves, biceps, and more. It’s a full-body exercise that is also excellent for improving grip strength.
Seniors who really want to challenge themselves may opt to carry two kettlebells at a time – one in each hand. In fact, the variations you see in the video demonstrate a few ways to hold one lower at the waist and the other raised in some fashion. Just make sure you’re using a weight that isn’t too heavy nor too light.
Perhaps the most popular kettlebell exercise is the kettlebell swing and for good reason. Entire workouts have been created with just this exercise alone. Also a full-body exercise, the technique of the swing is also misunderstood by beginners. The key thing to remember is that power generation doesn’t come from the arms. The arms act more like an extension. Check out two of the more common styles below classified as hip hinge and squat swings.
Out of all the kettlebell core strengthening exercises in this list, if you had to choose one the swing should take priority. The quick action means you may perform many reps in short order. Depending on which feels more comfortable, either the hip hinge or squat swing will do wonders for your core muscles. See how many you’re able to do consecutively without feeling fatigued. Then use that number to perform various sets to your liking.
What also makes the kettlebell swing a fantastic exercise is a potential for injury rehab. Particularly, injuries to the lower back. There have been some amazing results documented that show recovery from devastating accidents where patients have fully recovered. Seniors with lower back pain may also use the swing as a solution to this ailment.
Kettlebell Russian Twist
There aren’t many kettlebell exercises that are done entirely when resting on your butt. The kettlebell Russian twist has you seated on the floor and still manages to provide a powerful core workout. The movements are slow and subtle but get more tiresome after each repetition. Essentially, you’re twisting your torso by bringing the kettlebell from one side of the body to the other which demands constant action from the core muscles.
Not much skill is necessary for the kettlebell Russian twist, however, there are a couple of things to amp up the intensity. Of course, the heavier the weight the more difficult the exercise becomes to rattle off successive reps. Furthermore, keeping the legs elevated the entire time makes your butt the only point of contact on the floor. Maintaining balance is tricky so if you do that try it with a lighter kettlebell first.
After doing numerous reps of this exercise, you’ll likely feel it most in the abs and obliques. The range of motion is able to target the muscles on the sides of your torso unlike crunches or the plank position. Try adjusting the speed of each rep if you’re finding it a little too easy or hard.
Kettlebell Sit Up & Press
This kettlebell exercise effectively combines two exercises into one. Yes, you also get to sit on the floor again! Sit-ups are great exercises on their own but when you throw a kettlebell into the mix the added weight forces those core muscles to work harder. Finally, pressing the weight overhead gives the arms a workout too while providing an additional challenge for balancing.
Holding two hands during this exercise is likely the easiest and safest way for older men and women to do it. However, using one arm for holding the kettlebell and extending the other perpendicular to your body isn’t asking too much either. Just try your best not to use your free hand for support as you’ll lose much of the benefit the sit up & press provides.
Along with core muscles and arms (triceps), the back and shoulder muscles get plenty of work too. It may also be a good idea to test your shoulder mobility by standing back against a wall and reaching overhead. If that mobility is lacking then the lower back will arch to compensate for extending the arm vertically. Kettlebell instructor Greg Brookes explains this quite well in his Guide to the Kettlebell Press.
Kettlebell Core Strengthening Exercises Summary
For seniors, these 5 kettlebell core strengthening exercises should serve as a foundation for targeting those muscles. Not a lot of training is required and when mastered it will make transitioning to more complex kettlebell exercises easier. Spending a little time each day working on your core will go a long way in improving flexibility and strength in one of the most important areas of your body.
If possible, try to find a partner or group of other seniors to work out with. This will help to keep motivation day in and day out but also make each other accountable. The sky is the limit when it comes to creating a workout for your core. Concentrate on one or two exercises at a time each day, or do shorter reps and sets with all 5 of them. Either way, you’ll start noticing the benefits within a matter of weeks.