Instead of old-fashioned bodyweight abs exercises, dumbbell core exercises allow you to quickly and easily add resistance to movements while unlocking a different array of angles and planes for better core activation. Take your core training to the next level and sculpt a six-pack by adding these eight dumbbell exercises to your abs routine.
Dumbbell Bear Crawl
Get on all fours with your hands under your shoulders (holding onto hexagon-shaped dumbbells) and your knees under your hips; keep your knees an inch above the ground. Crawl forward by taking a small step with your right arm and left leg at the same time and alternate. Keep your hips low and your head up.
Turkish Get Up (TGU)
Lie on the ground with your right knee bent, right foot flat on the floor, right arm holding a dumbbell above you, and left arm and left leg at your side. Drive through your right foot and roll onto your left elbow. Then, straighten your left arm. Squeeze your right glute and drive your hips straight up. Pull your left leg underneath and behind your body, resting on the knee and ball of the foot. Move your torso straight up, then lunge to a stand. Reverse the sequence to descend. Do all your reps on one side and repeat on the other side. Keep your chest up and watch the dumbbell the entire time.
Single-Arm Farmer’s Carry
Grab a heavy dumbbell in one hand, keep your chest up and shoulder blades squeezed, and walk forward. By holding a heavy weight on just one side of your body while walking, your midsection works overtime to prevent your torso and hips from leaning.
The waiter’s walk is a great movement to safely target your six-pack: you’ll stabilize a heavy weight overhead while walking, which spikes your core activation.
Grab a heavy dumbbell in one hand and hold it overhead. Keep your shoulder down-and-back and walk while keeping your hips and shoulders level. Keep your wrists as straight as you can.
Lie on your back with your arms behind your head grasping a dumbbell, your knees above your hips, and your knees fully flexed. Start by lifting your butt off the ground and then curl your knees toward your head. Return your legs to the starting position and repeat. Keep your knees fully flexed throughout and do not let your thighs go past your hips on the way down.
To make this harder, use a lighter dumbbell.
Conventional pushups already target your core—take it to the next level by adding a twist. With T-pushups, you’ll lift one arm off the ground and point it to the sky, which amps the intensity on your shoulder shoulders and abs.
Start in a pushup position while holding dumbbells. Descend to the bottom and, as you’re pushing up, and extend one hand to the sky. Watch that hand with your eyes. Repeat and reach up with the other arm.
Single-Arm Dumbbell Overhead Press
Pushing heavy weights overhead will build tremendous total-body strength and sculpt a strong, ripped core. By pressing with only one arm, you’ll further boost the intensity on your abs because core has to prevent your body from twisting and leaning and you press the dumbbell.
With just one dumbbell held in front of your shoulder, drive it straight overhead and lock out your arm with your bicep by your ear. Don’t lean or twist with your body.
Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift
The single-leg Romanian deadlift challenges your stability like no other: by bending at your hips with just one leg supporting you, your abs work hard to keep your movement steady and prevent your body from falling over.
With a dumbbell in one hand, slowly bend forward at your hip and pull the weight-side’s leg behind. Keep your shoulder blades squeezed and your working knee slightly bent. Once the weights are below your knees, drive back up and squeeze with your glute. Don’t twist your hips to the side: keep them square and faced forward.
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