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Dumbbell Abs Workout For A Solid Core

home gym equipment
(Image credit: Unknown)

If you’ve been hunting down home gym equipment like we have for the past year, you’ll know the price of dumbbells has gone through the roof. That’s a consequence of the high demand and production issues that arose during the COVID-19 pandemic – and demand remained high even after the lockdown restrictions were lifted and gyms reopened.

As a result of these high prices, you may be considering investing in only one dumbbell instead of two. And that would be a very smart decision, because you really don’t need two dumbbells to get a top-quality workout in.

This abs workout is a testament to that. Your whole core gets a good going-over, with a selection of moves designed to blitz your obliques, abs and lower back, all using just one dumbbell. Alternate with this home abs workout which only uses one dumbbell. And once you’ve done both workouts, you can start shopping for more home workout kit with the money you saved on that second weight. Kettlebell, anyone?

How To Do 
The Workout

Do the following five moves in order, performing 15 reps of a lift then moving on to the next one without rest. After the final move, rest for 60 seconds, then repeat. Do six circuits in total. Make the circuit easier with a lighter dumbbell, or harder with a heavier one.

Weight

Beginner: 8kg
Intermediate: 12kg
Advanced: 16kg

Swing

Circuit training

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Reps 15 Rest 0sec

Hold a dumbbell in both hands. Bend from the hips to lower the weight between your legs, then push your hips forward to raise it up to shoulder height. Reverse back down to the start.

Why? This is a take on the classic kettlebell swing that offers all the same benefits. The hip hinge that forms the basis of this move is one of the core foundational bodyweight movements that you should work on mastering before beginning any weight training programme.

Side bend

Circuit training

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Reps 15 Rest 0sec

Stand tall, holding the dumbbell in one hand. Keeping your chest up, lower the weight – this will hit your obliques. Complete all the reps, then switch hands and repeat.

Why? Most abs routines veer too far down the crunch route, leading to an imbalance whereby the obliques are not developed enough. This exercise is one of the best for targeting the latter. Strong obliques provide a foundation of rotational strength, vital for those who play contact sports or are in physical/manual occupations.

Woodchop

Circuit training

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Reps 15 Rest 0sec

Squat, holding the weight in both hands to one side. Raise it across your body to head height, then back down. Do all the reps, then switch sides.

Why? Another excellent oblique-targeting move, this also improves your body’s co-ordination and core strength because you need to resist rotating the torso.

Crunch

Circuit training

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Reps 15 Rest 0sec

Lie flat on the floor with your knees bent, holding the dumbbell to your chest with both hands. Use your upper abs to raise your torso, then lower slowly to the start.

Why? The crunch is the true test of fundamental core strength and provides great stimulation to the abdominals. The only way to increase its difficulty is to add weight, and the dumbbell crunch does this perfectly. Pick a weight you can perform eight to ten reps with, and initiate through the abs muscles themselves, not the hip flexors.

Russian twist

Russian twist

(Image credit: Unknown)

Reps 15 Rest 60sec

Start at the top of the crunch but with your feet off the ground. Rotate back and forth, keeping your abs braced. A twist to one side then the other counts as one rep.

Why? The elevated position of the feet in this exercise places enormous strain on both the upper and lower abs, which are typically a tricky area to stimulate. The twisting movement involves the obliques also which you will find invaluable when stabilising the body on heavy, compound lifts.

Richard worked as a features writer in 2013 and 2014 for Men’s Fitness UK, which predated and later shared a website with Coach. Richard went on to a career as a professional journalist and editor, working for brands like Red Bull, Total Film, Den of Geek and others.