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Nearly everyone I know would like a little more of a defined midsection, whether that's to get rid of the 'Jelly Belly', the dreaded 'Muffin Top' or reducing those good old 'Love Handles'.


First off, let me just get a couple of things pretty clear... doing Ab work alone and avoiding a sensible nutrition plan is NOT going to work! Just as doing Ab work alone without any other sort of exercise won't.


It WILL however, significantly improve many other important factors you may not know about... There's a whole host of core exercises out there and some are good and some are not so good... BUT... 

What exactly do we mean when we say core


What most people tend to think of when you say the magic word ‘core’ are 2-3 muscles around the mid-section:

  1. There’s the ‘showy one’ at the front the fabled Six Pack (rectus abdominis)

  2. The ‘twisty ones’ at the side AKA Love Handles (internal/external obliques)

  3. AND the real one when it comes to core training, the transversus abdominis. The corset like one that surrounds the middle of the body and 'sucks you in'.


The last one kind of acts like a natural weight lifting belt at a deep level and is supposed to engage whenever you pick something up.

So called experts will tell you that this one is key above all else and you had better have it switched on, like all the time or else you’re in trouble.

This is only partially true though and can cause people to spend hours trying core activation exercises when they could spend their time much more efficiently.

In essence, it's one of the many muscles that need to be primed and functioning properly. 

This is only partially true though and can cause people to spend hours trying core activation exercises when they could spend their time much better. In essence it’s one of many muscles that need to be primed and functioning properly.

Surely there can’t be that many that need to be trained I hear you ask?  Well let’s have a look at a few.

There’s the ‘pelvic floor’ for a start, this one needs to be strong to resist forces pushing downwards. Any ladies that have given birth will be all too familiar with this one.


Are you with me so far? 

I'm about to go slightly deeper and it may get slightly 'sciencey', but I'll try to keep it relatively simple... 


There’s some major ones around the rear of the body i.e. ‘erector spinae’. These little beauties run up either side of your spine and help hold your body upright. They need to have good endurance to do this as well.


Then there are a couple of spine stabilisers located at the base of the lower back, which are also there to support posture and assist in sideways movement.


Lastly, we have the gluteals... better known as the 'Butt'

You may not think these muscles are part of the core, but believe me when I tell you they are technically the powerhouse of the core musculature and need to be strong to support everything you do. 

By now you’re probably thinking ‘how on earth do I find the time to train ALL these muscles’?

I personally believe that lifting kettlebells with solid basic movements like squats, deadlifts, press’s, rows and all the swings, cleans and snatch’s goes a long way to directly and indirectly train most of these muscles.


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It’s a case of:-

  • Making the lower body stronger with squats, swings etc. and indirectly make the core stronger from the bottom up.
  • Making the upper body stronger with various press’s and rows and make the core indirectly stronger from the top down.
  • Putting in some strategic direct midsection work and tie it all together

So before we dive in with our 3 of the Best Exercises to shift that Jelly Belly Look, I've actually put a list together of the 10 Ultimate Core Workouts - should you wish to download your copy (on the house!) the link is below. 


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In the meanwhile, here are three of my favourite direct core exercises to get you started:-

  1. Glute Bridge/Hip Extension to Press
  2. Plank/Plank Reach
  3. Abdominal Cycle

1. Hip Extension to Press: 



Major Muscles Worked: 

  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Transversus Abdominis


  • Lie on your back with your legs bent, heels close to backside
  • Hold kettlebell directly over chest
  • Slowly push though the feet to extend the hips upwards while pressing the kettlebell at the same time
  • Stop when the thighs are in line with the torso and the glutes have been squeezed together
  • Slowly return to a point where the backside is just above the floor

2. Alternating Plank Reach 


Major Muscles Worked: 

  • Gluteal
  • Transversus Abdominis


  • Adopt a basic Press Up position with the hands directly below the shoulders
  • Draw the stomach in and keep the glutes and hamstrings activated
  • The hips should not drop
  • Slowly reach forward with one arm while maintaining the other three points of contact on the floor.  DON’T adjust your body position to compensate.
  • Slowly return the arm and repeat on the other side

3. Ab Cycle


Major Muscles Worked: 

  • Rectus Abdominus
  • External Obliques 
  • Internal Obliques


  • Lie on your back while holding the kettlebell in two hands
  • Bring one knee up to touch the opposite elbow while keeping the other leg off the floor with a slight bend to the knee
  • Slowly reverse the movement by twisting the torso and bringing the other knee to meet the opposite elbow
  • Keep the shoulder off the floor during the whole movement

When to do them:  

  • Add 1-2 of these exercises to your current routine at the end of the workout
  • Perform 10-15 repetitions each time and really focus on technique and feeling the correct muscles working.


Follow the above strategy and you’ll be a long way to building a strong midsection


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