A TRX and Kettlebell Workout for Building a Solid Core

Let’s get one thing straight. This post is not going to demonstrate how to target your lower or upper ab muscles, although these exercises will do that. It is not going to show you the secret to trimming off those love handles, but then again, this routine will do that as well.

If that beautiful torso of muscle known as the core, waist, trunk and midsection can’t be seen, that means it is hidden behind layers of fat. 

Depending on who you are this may be half an inch thick or 8 inches thick. Either way, you don’t get rid of it by only targeting the area needing improvement. Rather, it is accomplished by lowering the fat percentage throughout the body. Here’s what you need:

-A suspension trainer. Anything will do, including homemade substitutes or gymnastics rings. If you’ve looked around this site, you’ll see I prefer the TRX. It’s easier and more comfortable to use in my opinion.

-A kettlebell, dumbbell or medicine ball. Alternatively, you can use a heavy mortar bowl. This may be a cooking tool, but the granite and marble units can weigh in at ten pounds, perfect for our workout.

-A jumprope,  treadmill or stationary bike. A BMX or mountain bike would be just as effective if you can get moving on it outside withing 10-20 seconds.

Here’s the workout, and you will find exercise videos and descriptions under “TRX Core Strengthening videos.


Joint rotations-Start with the neck, work your way down to the shoulders, rotate the arms, then rotate at the elbow wrists, hips, knees and ankles. Three to five rotations in both directions, just to get lubricated.

Then, giant set consisting of the following, starting with feet in stirrups and body in pushup position:

Swinging Pendulum x 5-10 each side (depending on fitness level.)
Modified Jackknife x5-10 (adjust to your level) *These consist of crunching both knees to chest simultaneously.
*(Advanced/optional:) Side Plank with Reach Under:x3-8
**Do not allow midsection to go slack during these exercises. Better to stop than use poor form.

Immediately follow with:

Jumping Rope or biking at moderate speed-30 to 60 seconds.

Then do:

Turkish Get-up: x 5 each side. A kettlebell is preferred, but a dumbbell is ok, too. If using a medicine ball, use one hand to hold it on the shoulder and double the repetitions.

Repeat three to six times, depending on fitness level. No rest in between; this is constant motion. If form breaks down, lower the repetitions, lower the weight.

Encourage additional fat loss by jogging or biking at a steady pace, or walking at a fast pace for 20-30 minutes at the end of the workout.  Work hard and have fun!

If you don’t know how to do a Turkish get-up, study this excellent Steve Cotter video:

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Aerobics and Strength Training are Nothing but Fun

Hey, how about heading down to the gym with me?  But hold on, I’m throwing on a long sleeve shirt.  Even though it’s still in the 90’s outside, the air conditioning starts chilling my bones as soon as I start to sweat.  Ok, you coming?  Great.  Got my water bottle, a little protein bar (there is some protein in Snickers,) Cool.  Let’s hop in the car, it’s about a ten minute drive for me, but I’m not biking because I need to save my energy for the gym.  Great, let’s get excited, I can’t wait to hit the squat rack, the dumbbell rack, the Yaaawwwnnnn…hold up.

This doesn’t sound like fun.  What are we doing?  Get out of the car!  Tell you what, let’s do some fun stuff,  get a great aerobic and strength workout, and instead of waiting to get it over with, we’re going to wish we had more time to keep it going.  It’s easy.  All we have to do is forget we’re adults for a few hours.

Step one:   

Pick Your Aerobic Activity

Ok, these are my personal examples, but you can choose curling, ice climbing, or chasing the dog if you like.  The only prerequisite?  It has to be something you have fun with while pushing your limits a little bit.

-Skateboarding:  This isn’t at the top of my list because I’m a 38 year old closet skateboarding pro; but man, can I carve up my driveway!  It wasn’t always this way, though.  There was that time at a crowded little league game where Daddy took a dive…but with a little practice since then I can almost stay on it at the skate park!   Seriously, this can be great exercise, especially if you can’t run because of worn out knees.  Best of all, even just gliding down the street feels good.

Surfing or Bodyboarding:  I am a lame surfer, ok bodyboarder, and love to be in the ocean.  Too bad I moved to the desert.  The point is, these are fun, intense sports.  These fit in the muscular and cardiovascular endurance category, and may be all you ever need, depending on personal goals.  Ah, the ocean; gym, nature, and amusement park, all in one.

-Biking:  Um, specifically I love to get a BMX bike and run sprints up and down the street.  I will get a hardtail mountain bike one of these days, but dang!  Have you seen the visually stunning little BMX bikes being made these days?  Why let all the little punks have the fun!  Seriously, they make one in your size too.  By the way, there is a good chance you’ve forgotten how much energy it takes to keep a single gear moving for any length of time, and don’t forget the jumps!  Try doing that on a Bianci roadbike!

I’m sure the idea is coming across.  I even found a website devoted to selling hoppers, those inflatable balls toddlers bounce on with a handle on top.  The founder is all about fun exercise, and makes them in adult sizes as well.  Now imagine an adults party with hoppers and margaritas…hmmm, somebody would probably break an arm, or a skull.  Let’s move on.  You need to hit the weights, or at least maintain upper body strength, right? So:

Step 2:

Pick your strength activity

If Olympic weight lifting, competing in Scottish highlander games, or powerlifting is fun for you, go for it.  The idea is to have some more fun with it though, so I’ll start by saying…

Rock Climbing:   Actually, in my case it’s fake rock climbing, like it matters.  The first few times I started back into this my entire body ached.  Climbing gyms are becoming popular to a greater segment of society, and I would imagine they are grabbing some of the business from franchise gyms.  I site as evidence the installation of climbing walls at certain larger chains.  In any case, this is serious body blasting, and a lot of fun.  Every adult owes it to themselves to remember, or discover, what it’s like to climb around on the walls like, oh I don’t know, some kind of animal.

You’ll increase the anaerobic capacity of the body, build biceps, lats, wrist flexors and extensors, calves, core, and more.  Good times.  You must see the video on the climbing gym at the end of this post, and yes, grown men and women participate and kick butt in these gyms as well.


Now don’t start moaning and talking about all the stuff you can’t do.  This ‘free running’ stuff is a lot like playing as a kid, except, you’re older, and to be honest this is going to hurt more now.  The best of these athletes jump and roll off of two story buildings, vault over cars, and scurry up walls like a cat.  This is not where you’re going to start, but it is inspirational.  It’s a little like track and field meets gymnastics, and many of the moves require power and strength.  Check it out below; it’s about twenty minutes, but if this is new material it’s worth your time. 

Find something fun to do, and push your body to the limit in it.  Even if it’s an activity you do to take a break from a gym or team exercise routine, it will change your life.

The Insiders (Climbing)

Parkour Generations Video: