We all know a strong core is essential to any workout routine, right? Strengthening your core develops the muscles in your lower back, abdominal, and pelvic muscles. And this comes with many benefits: you’ll have more tone and improve your overall appearance, plus more stability, which aids with function and movement—not forgetting improved balance, coordination, and posture.
A great way to work out your core and strengthen your core stability is by incorporating dumbbell exercises into your routine as these build weighted ab exercises into your practice.
And the great thing about dumbbell exercises is that you can do them anywhere, at home, at the gym, or even at your office on your lunch break. They’re perfect for a short and sweaty workout or build them into a longer routine to get your heart racing, and they’ll be building your core strength in no time.
If you’re struggling with ab workout ideas, then read on for our ultimate dumbbell abs workout; your core will get an intense abs workout with a selection of exercises designed to target your obliques, upper and lower abs, and lower back – just using a set of dumbbells!
Why do we need a strong core?
As we mentioned above, a strong core is an essential part of a healthy body; without it, you’d just flop in half. Your core muscles support your spine, stabilize your body and structure, and promote proper posture. Without realizing, you rely on your core for all movements, from twisting to the side, reaching above your head, and moving heavy objects. Plus, you utilize these muscles when sitting down and standing up.
Building a healthy and strong core can prevent and relieve lower back pain, build muscle mass, and improve your flexibility.
The importance of a full body workout
As well as ab exercises, you want to work out your whole body. And a balanced fitness routine must include cardio, flexibility, balance exercises, and strength training. Doing a full body workout not only promotes strength, toning and flexibility in your whole body but also prevents you from getting bored or not challenging yourself enough.
Do you need help from a pro?
If you’re new to fitness, you’re recovering from an injury, or you’re living with a health condition, you may want to consult the help of a professional like a personal trainer to create your workouts for you. Or even to help you to level up your current schedule.
A PT or a fitness pro can look at your current fitness level, needs, and goals to create an individualized plan. Plus, they’ll keep you safe by teaching you the correct form and technique and how to build on your lifts and progressively gains. In addition, they can give you motivation and feedback that can help you progress and modify your routine, if needed.
What weight is right for you?
You should choose a dumbbell weight based on your strength level, begin with a low weight, for example, 5 pounds, and complete a few reps of an exercise. Increase the weight by 2.5 pounds until you get to a challenging but not impossible weight.
Also Read: What is dirty bulking?
You want to choose a weight that’s aligned with your goals, so generally:
- For strength training, choose a suitable weight that allows you to do about 1-6 reps.
- If you’re looking to build muscle, choose weights that allow you to perform about 8-12 repetitions.
- For training muscle endurance, choose a weight that allows you to lift at least 15 reps.
But with that said, let’s jump into some essential dumbbell exercises to include in your next workout, as well as their benefits and how to do them.
Always begin with a warmup
Before you get into any exercise, start with a gentle warm-up of around 3-5 minutes. You could use the treadmill, cross-trainer, or rowing machine, or you could follow the short circuit below:
- 30 seconds of jogging on the spot
- 30 seconds of jumping jacks
- high knees for 30 seconds
- Then 30 seconds of butt kicks
- Rest for 20-30 seconds and repeat
Our favorite dumbbell exercises for your core
For each exercise, complete 1-3 sets, each consisting of 8-15 reps. If you’re new to training or recovering from an injury, start low and work your way up. If you’re unfamiliar with weights, start by doing a few reps of each exercise without any weight. Once you’ve nailed the form, begin by adding a light weight and then gradually increase the load.
- Begin by sitting on the ground with your legs stretched out ahead of you
- Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor
- Hold a dumbbell in front of your chest, and slowly start to hinge at your hips, brace your core, and lean slightly back with your upper body, slowly twisting your upper body to the right.
- Return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side
- Sit with your legs stretched out in front of you and hold a dumbbell in front of you
- Begin to slowly lift your feet off the floor and keep your core engaged as you twist to the right
- Slowly return to center before repeating on the opposite side
- Lie flat on your back with just one dumbbell above your head
- Lift your feet a few inches off the floor
- Raise your legs to a 90-degree angle and at the same time, lift the dumbbell toward your feet as you simultaneously lift your upper body away from the ground
- Slowly return to the starting position, keeping your feet off the ground the whole time
Alternating overhead press
- Begin by standing with your feet shoulder width apart
- And holding a dumbbell in each hand, bending your elbows so your hands are at shoulder height with your palms facing forward
- Straighten your left arm to raise the weight above your head, engaging your core and keeping your lower back straight
- Slowly lower your arm to the starting position, and then repeat with your right arm
Side plank raise
- Start by lying on your left side with your legs extended
- Leaning on your left forearm for support, stack your feet and place a dumbbell on your right hip
- Lift your hips and legs as high off the ground as possible
- Hold this position for a few seconds before slowly returning to the starting position. And then repeat on the right side.
Long arm dumbbell crunch
- Start lying flat on your back with your knees bent and press the soles of your feet into the ground
- Using both hands, hold a dumbbell behind your head
- Engage your core and lift the weight above your head as you do a sit-up
- Slowly lower back to the starting position.
- Lie on your back with bent knees and feet firmly on the ground, the back of your feet as close to your glutes as possible
- Hold a dumbbell against your chest and engage your core, lifting your upper body towards your knees
- Hold for a few seconds before returning to the starting position
Squat to overhead press
- Start in a standing position, holding two dumbbells towards your chest with your palms facing your body
- Throw your hips back like you’re going to sit down and lower into a squat
- Stand up straight, and at the same time, extend your arms above your head with your palms facing away from your body.
- Return to the starting position.
- Start by holding one dumbbell in both hands
- Lower down into a squat, placing the weight on the ground
- Lean forward and kick your feet into a push-up position, do one push up
- Then, pick up the dumbbell and jump back into a low squat
- Return to the starting position
- Start by lying on your back and holding a dumbbell behind your head
- Lift your upper body and legs at the same time to form a V-shape
- Slowly lower back to the starting position
Overhead side bend
- Use your right hand to hold a dumbbell overhead and place your left hand either on your hip or along your body
- Bend over to the left side, reaching down towards your feet with arms straight
- Hold this position for a few seconds before returning to the starting position
- Repeat on the right side
- Start by lying on your back with a dumbbell held between your ankles
- Lift your legs to a 45-degree angle, clenching the weight
- Slowly lower your legs back to the starting position.
Standing weighted twist
- Begin in a standing position, holding a dumbbell in at your chest
- Rotate your torso to the right
- Return to the center
- Rotate to the left
Reverse lunge with twist
- Start in a standing position, holding a dumbbell with outstretched arms
- With your left foot, step back and lower into a lunge position
- Twist your torso to the right and hold for a few seconds before returning to the center.
- Straighten your legs to return to the starting position and repeat with the right foot.
Lying overhead reach
- Lie down on your back and hold a dumbbell in each hand over your chest
- Your knees should be above your hips with your calves parallel to the floor (so your legs are creating a 90-degree angle)
- Next, slowly lower your arms to the floor behind your head and holding here for a few seconds
- Slowly return your arms to the starting position
- Start in a standing position, holding the top of a dumbbell in both hands
- Hinge at your hips, bending your knees slightly as you swing the weight between your legs
- Using your hips, thrust the weight up to shoulder height
- Slowly lower the weight to the starting position
- Start by lying on the floor with your knees bent and pressed to the ground
- Hold the dumbbell close to your chest with both hands
- Use your upper abs to lift your shoulders and torso off the ground and towards your knees
- Slowly lower back down to the starting position
- Start in a squat position and hold a dumbbell in both hands
- Raise the dumbbell across your body to be in-line with your head
- Lower the weight slowly back down to the starting position
So, there you have it, our ultimate dumbbell workout for your core that’s sure to strengthen and stabilize your abs and lower back in no time!
What do you need to know about abs and how they look
If you’re looking to achieve six pack abs or blitz belly fat, ab workouts alone aren’t enough to do this. Even if you strengthen your abs, the muscle tone won’t be visible if it’s still covered in a layer of fat. Visible abs also aren’t possible for everyone, so while exercising, eating well, and feeling healthy is a great goal, focus on how exercise makes you feel rather than how it makes you look.
If fat loss is essential to you, you’ll need to include abs and core exercises as part of a fitness routine that targets your entire body to lower your body fat percentage, and this should also include cardio.
If you want to develop a strong core, include these dumbbell exercises in your fitness program. Once you’ve mastered the form without weights, start with low weight, and as you progress, build upon your skills by increasing the weight of the dumbbell.
If you’re in pain, tired, or struggling to lift, take a step back for a few days. Don’t forget rest is also an essential part of your exercise routine.
Top tips for a toned stomach
- Follow a healthy, balanced diet that includes fiber, protein, and probiotics
- Avoid sugary drinks such as fruit juice, soda, and alcohol
- Drink plenty of water
- Unsweetened tea and coffee are great beverage options
- Make sure to balance your exercise with activities that help you to relax and unwind
- Aim for at least 7 hours of high-quality sleep every night
What else can you do to build a strong core?
Although we’ve listed some of the best dumbbell exercises for working out your abs, lower back and building a solid core, if you really want to level up your progress, then PhenGold, PrimeShred, and Brutal Force are here to support you.
So, who’s going to help you level up?
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