One Dumbbell, Five Exercises And 30 Minutes Are All You Need To Build Stronger Abs

Woman performs V-up abs exercise over dumbbell
(Image credit: Kosamtu / Getty Images)

You probably already know that finishing your workouts with a couple of sets of sit-ups won’t get you a six-pack. Targeted abs workouts on top of a progressive strength training plan are a much more effective way to increase the strength of your abs. 

If you’ve mastered bodyweight abs exercises and want to step up the difficulty, try a dumbbell abs workout.

This workout from James Stirling, better known online as the London Fitness Guy uses a dumbbell to help you target the abdominal muscles by challenging your stability, coordination and strength.

Take a look at Stirling’s Instagram Reel where he demonstrates each move.

Stirling suggests performing each exercise for 40 seconds, followed by 20 seconds of rest. Complete five rounds in total for a 30-minute workout that will leave your abs burning.

Use a challenging weight, but one that allows you to complete all the moves with good form. If, for example, on the dumbbell halo or overhead pull you can’t maintain your posture it’s a sign that you’ve chosen a weight that’s a bit too heavy. Because you’re isolating the abdominal muscles and relying on them to keep you stable, a lighter weight than you’re used to might still be surprisingly challenging. 

Prevent excess pressure on the lower back by tucking in your ribcage and pelvis, squeezing your glutes (the muscles in your butt) and tightening your abdominal muscles towards your spine. This is especially important as you tire.

If this routine as written is too difficult, you can perform the butterfly sit-ups and plank taps with just your bodyweight—they’ll still challenge your abdominal strength even without adding load. You could also do three rounds of the circuit instead of five.

Alice Porter

Alice Porter is a journalist who covers health, fitness and wellbeing, among other topics, for titles including Stylist, Fit & Well, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Grazia, VICE and Refinery29. When she’s not writing about these topics, you can probably find her at her local CrossFit box.