The High-Rep Home Abs Workout

Woman performs Russian twist as part of an abs workout at home
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The best abs workouts for building a six-pack usually involve a mix of dedicated abs moves as well as compound exercises that engage big muscle groups, which build strength all over the body while also working your core. 

This approach is great for sculpting a six-pack, because you not only work the core muscles but also burn more calories through the challenging full-body compound moves, which helps reduce body fat to reveal the abs beneath.

However, to take this approach you generally need access to a gym, or an impressively well-stocked home gym that has heavy free weights to use for compound moves like barbell squats and deadlifts

If you don’t have that, then this home abs workout is a great alternative for those aiming to build a stronger core and more defined abs. The workout uses high-rep sets done as supersets to keep your abs under constant tension, and it works your core from a range of angles so all the muscles in your midsection get stronger. 

All you need for the session is one dumbbell. Although you’re doing high-rep sets there are only six exercises and not a lot of rest, so it’s a speedy workout you can easily fit into a lunch break or add to the end of a home HIIT workout.

Home Abs Workout

This session is made up of six moves, split into three supersets—which means you do two exercises back to back with little or no rest between them. That means you complete all the reps of move 1A then the same for 1B, only resting after all the reps of the second move. You’ll do three supersets of moves 1A and 1B then repeat this approach with moves 2A and 2B, and with 3A and 3B.

In the first superset the moves work your upper abs, then your side abs. The second superset hits your lower abs, then side abs, and the final superset primarily targets your side abs. Do this home abs workout once a week for a month and you’ll see your abs become stronger and more sculpted.

The workout requires a dumbbell. If you don’t have one, use our recommendations of the best dumbbells to find one which suits your budget, or go the DIY route and rustle up a makeshift free weight—anything from a tin of beans to a brick works.

To sculpt hard abs faster, engage your entire core region before you begin the first rep of each set. Starting with these target muscles fully activated means you’ll maintain better form during the set and work your abs harder.

1A Dumbbell crunch reach

Dumbbell crunch reach

(Image credit: Glen Burrows)

Sets 3 Reps 15 Rest 0sec

Targets: upper abs

Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and a dumbbell held above your chest with arms straight. Crunch upwards, raising the weight as high as you can. Pause at the top of the movement, squeeze your abs, then lower back to the start.

1B Seated dumbbell Russian twist

Seated dumbbell Russian twist

(Image credit: Glen Burrows)

Sets 3 Reps 15 Rest 2min

Targets: side abs

Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet slightly raised, holding a dumbbell in front of you secured in both hands. Keeping your feet off the floor, twist to one side, pause, and then twist to the other. That’s one rep.

2A Straight leg raise

Straight leg raise

(Image credit: Glen Burrows)

Sets 3 Reps 15 Rest 0sec

Targets: lower abs

Lie flat on your back with your legs straight. Engage your abs and keeping your legs straight, raise your feet as high as you can, then slowly lower them again. Make it harder by not letting your feet touch the floor between reps.

2B Straight-leg side twist

Straight-leg side twist

(Image credit: Glen Burrows)

Sets 3 Reps 15 Rest 2min

Targets: side abs

From the top position of the previous move, keep your legs together and slowly lower your feet down to one side, then back up and over to the other. That’s one rep. Keep each rep smooth and controlled.

3A Standing dumbbell Russian twist

Standing dumbbell Russian twist

(Image credit: Glen Burrows)

Sets 3 Reps 15 Rest 0sec

Targets: side abs

Stand tall with your arms out in front of you holding a dumbbell. Keeping your hips forwards, rotate your hands to one side and then back across to the other. Keep the reps smooth and your arms parallel to the floor.

3B Dumbbell side bend

Dumbbell side bend

(Image credit: Glen Burrows)

Sets 3 Reps 15 each side Rest 2min

Targets: side abs

Hold a dumbbell in one hand and bend your torso down towards your weighted hand, then straighten back up and lean slightly away to the other side. Keep your movement side-to-side only; don’t lean forwards or backwards.

Joe Warner
Former editor of Men’s Fitness UK

Joe Warner is a highly experienced journalist and editor who began working in fitness media in 2008. He has featured on the cover of Men’s Fitness UK twice and has co-authored Amazon best-sellers including 12-Week Body Plan. He was the editor of Men’s Fitness UK magazine between 2016 and 2019, when that title shared a website with Coach.

With contributions from