A windmill exercise is as cool as it sounds as it offers many benefits. However, the name does not indicate what it works best on, the core!. It is a great exercise as part of your workout at home and it works on your love handles. Like the windmills in the field, all the power needed for the exercise comes from the core. When done with weights like a kettlebell, it can add more stability to the body, increase core strength, and work on the glutes. Here’s how to do the windmill exercise and all the benefits explained.

What is a windmill exercise?

The windmill exercise is regarded highly among trainers as it is a great core-muscle builder exercise. It is done with an open stance and improves flexibility and range of motion. The free weight exercise is the basic version and by adding additional challenges, it can become a good windmill ab exercise that can also improve the shoulder and arm strength. The basic jumping jacks windmill exercise works on primary muscle groups like the wrist flexors, front and side shoulders. It also works on the secondary muscles like the back and the upper chest.

It can be done with no equipment or with weights like dumbbells, kettlebells, etc.

The windmill can be used as a bodyweight exercise, stretching exercise, and warmup exercise for other more challenging exercises.

How to do the windmill exercise?

Now you know what a windmill exercise is before we go ahead with explaining its steps. 

Begin your warm up with some spot jogging, or jump rope to increase blood circulation. Once you break a sweat, add some stretches that involve repetitive movements like leg swings, arm circles, twists, etc. This is to warm up the back, abdomen, hip, hamstring and shoulders. Once the core body temperature is raised, start the exercise:

  • Stand with feet hip-width apart and toes pointing forward.
  • Extend one arm so that it is over your head with the elbows straight. The other arm is by the side.
  • If you have extended your right arm, place your left foot outward and place your body weight on the right heel.
  • Shift the right hip outward and turn your head to focus on your right hand.
  • Slightly bend your left knee and, using the left hand, reach for the toes of your left leg or until the fingers touch the floor.
  • Stay in this position for a few minutes and then return to the start position.
  • Repeat the movement for the required number of times while keeping the right arm overhead.
  • Once you have completed the desired number of steps, do the same on the other side.

Windmill exercise variations

Kettlebell windmill exercise

A kettlebell windmill exercise is similar to the basic version but uses additional weights instead of bodyweight. Begin by placing a kettlebell in front of you on the floor. Engage the core, slightly bend the knees and move your hips forward. Hold the kettlebell with your right hand, bring the weight towards your shoulder, keep the back upright, extend the right elbow and take the weight overhead. Continue the exercise as the basic version. Keep the focus on the weight to have control and the right arm locked. The dumbbell windmill exercise is also similar and as effective as the kettlebell version. This can also be part of your windmill press exercise workout routine as it works on the chest muscles.

Kneeling windmill exercise

The kneeling windmill exercise is similar to the dumbbell windmill exercise, but it is done in a kneeling position. Start with your right knee on the floor and a kettlebell or a dumbbell in the left hand. Place the left foot wide for stability and engage the core. Now twist your body, buttocks back and touch the right elbow to the floor by lowering it. Go back up by engaging the glutes. Now repeat the same by placing the right hand on the floor. Hold for a few seconds and push back up. Do this windmill ab exercise three sets on every side.

The main advantage of this is that it can also become part of your windmill arm exercise and windmill shoulder exercise workout plan.

Leg Windmill exercise

This is an exercise that increases the stability of your legs and hips and reduces the risk of injury. To do the leg windmill exercise, stand on one leg with the knee slightly bent and aligned over the toes. Hinge forward at the waist, push the hips back, and lower the chest to the floor to parallel it to the ground. If you are standing on your left leg, take your right legs back with knees bent. Extend the left arm over your head with a straight elbow. Touch the left toes with your right hand. Hold for a few seconds and repeat. Change sides and repeat the steps. Add weights to make it more challenging once you are comfortable with this move, like using a kettlebell to make the windmill arm exercise work out the legs.

Windmill exercise benefits

There are many advantages of doing a windmill workout and among them are:

  • First, it boosts core stability as, like the other dynamic movements, this too engages the core muscles. When the core muscles are strengthened, there is better hip function and reduced chances of injury when abrupt movements occur.
  • More shoulder stability: Like the bent press, the arm-bar, etc., the windmill shoulder exercise can also improve shoulder strength and stability. That means there is better coordination and muscle control of the small fibres. So there is a wider range of motions across the scapular region when you do a windmill workout.
  • Stretches the muscles: The dynamic movements of the windmill press exercise helps in stretching certain muscles like the obliques, hamstrings and hips. So it improves core and shoulder strength and that of the glutes.

Windmill exercise alternatives

This workout may not be suitable for some because they cannot do it for various reasons. Here are some windmill exercise alternatives that provides the same windmill exercise benefits:


The windmill exercise is a great core exercise, but it can lead to injuries if not done with proper form. Also, if you are not engaging the core but making the spine do the work, it can strain the lower back. So to get all the benefits to keep the core tight and the spine straight.

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May 13, 2022

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