The kettlebell is one of the most versatile tools in the strength and conditioning world. In fact, many people have set up a home gym consisting of nothing more than two or three kettlebells and possibly a pullup bar. One of the great benefits they provide is the ability to move from two handed (bilateral) to one-handed (unilateral) movements quickly, giving you the opportunity to build strong, ripped, and virtually bulletproof obliques.
The one-hand racked kettlebell walk, is one of the best - and most deceptively simple - exercises you can do to build those obliques. Simply walking with a kettlebell held to one side, while avoiding any twisting or bending (which in this case is cheating - removing the benefit of the movement), will force those muscles to work harder than any amount of side bends or machine twists you can do.
Sarah, a CrossFitter at DEFY! in Broomfield says “you really have to keep your core tight to stay up straight”. Ted, her workout partner, agreed and added “you also need to keep your shoulder tight and your elbow tucked to keep it from flaring out, otherwise you’ll lose it”.
First, decide on your course. You can walk a straight distance - 20 meters is good to start, but work toward 40 or 50 meters for heavy weight, or distances of up to a mile to build your muscular endurance - or have twists and turns to add extra stabilization challenges. Next, “rack” the kettlebell (bring it to the shouldered position). At the top position, the kettlebell should be hugged tight between your forearm and your bicep (resist the inclination to set it on top of your shoulder), and your elbow should be tucked into your side.
From there, simply walk your course. Hold your abdominal muscles as tight as if you were expecting someone to punch you in the stomach. Stand up straight - remember: bending or twisting to reduce the work your obliques have to do will effectively remove the benefits of the exercise.
See the linked video for the full movement.
Common weights for beginners are 16 kg (35 lbs) for women and 24 kg (53 lbs) for men, and advanced trainees can readily perform a 50 meter walk with 70 lbs or more. While this movement is typically done with a kettlebell due to the ease in bringing it to a comfortable shoulder position, it can also be done with dumbbells, or even a sandbag draped over the shoulder.
Try the one-hand kettlebell walk, and see how it can help the development of your bulletproof core!