Dumbbell Abs Workout For A Solid Core

Dumbbell on a bedroom floor, between a laptop and trainers
Just a single dumbbell is all you need for this dumbbell abs workout (Image credit: Getty Images)

You can get fit at home without using any weights at all, but if you add resistance with a set of dumbbells you can add a new dimension to your home workouts. This dumbbell abs workout will do wonders for your core strength, and one weight is all that’s required.

While the core is the focus of this dumbbell workout, which targets your abs, obliques and lower back, the five exercises involved will also work muscles in your upper and lower body. It’s an effective home dumbbell workout that anyone can tackle, and you can adjust the difficulty by picking a weight appropriate for you.

If you don’t own dumbbells and plan to perform this session at home, we recommend buying an adjustable dumbbell so you can increase the weight once your body becomes accustomed to the workout. You’ll find a wide range of options in our selection of the best dumbbells. A set of dumbbells is a worthwhile investment, not least because this home abs workout uses one as well. 

How To Do This Dumbbell Abs 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. Here are our suggested weights.

Do six circuits in total

Beginner 8kg
Intermediate 12kg
Advanced 16kg

1 Swing

Dumbbell swing

(Image credit: Glen Burrows)

Reps 15 Rest 0sec

How 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? Our dumbbell abs workout begins with the classic kettlebell swing, but without the kettlebell. 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.

2 Side bend

Dumbbell side bend abs exercise

(Image credit: Glen Burrows)

Reps 15 each side Rest 0sec

How 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.

3 Woodchop

Dumbbell woodchop abs exercise

(Image credit: Glen Burrows)

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.

4 Crunch

Dumbbell crunch abs exercise

(Image credit: Glen Burrows)

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.

5 Russian twist

Russian twist abs exercise using a dumbbell

(Image credit: Glen Burrows)

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.

Former features writer

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.