Use this dumbbell abs workout to develop strong, sculpted abs and enhance core stability.

You won’t be able to build strong abdominal muscles and a solid core this year simply by doing thousands of sit-ups. You need to target all the muscles of your midsection, and that means doing exercises that work your upper, lower and side abs as well as your deep-lying muscles. This dumbbell abs workout has got you covered – grab your best adjustable dumbbells or fixed dumbbells and let’s get started. 

The first move in this dumbbell abs workout involves moving the weight from a high to low position while simultaneously moving it from one side of your body to the other. This teaches your upper and lower body to work together to control the dumbbell across a big range of motion. The side plank snatch also requires good core control as you balance in an unstable position while doing a complicated dumbbell movement

The other moves in the workout make sure that you work every area of your abs – including those hard-to-hit, and frequently overlooked, lower abdominals. 

How to perform this dumbbell abs workout

  • Do exercises 1-6 in order 
  • Rest for 1 minute between sets 
  • Rest for 2 minutes between exercises 

Tip: Try to maintain a good posture throughout the day, even while sitting at your desk. Doing so will strengthen your deep-lying stabilising muscles. 

Dumbbell abs workout: the exercises

1. Dumbbell woodchop (10 reps each side)
2. Dumbbell side plank snatch (10 reps each side)
3. Dumbbell rollout (10 reps each side)
4. Dumbbell side bend (10 reps each side)
5. Dumbbell reverse crunch (10 reps each side)
6. Dumbbell side plank with lateral raise (10 reps each side)

topless fitness model performing dumbbell woodchop as part of a dumbbell abs workout
topless fitness model performing dumbbell woodchop as part of a dumbbell abs workout

1. Dumbbell woodchop 

Reps: 10 each side
Rest: 60 secs
Sets: 2 

This move is great for sports like tennis that require twisting power, because it connects your upper and lower body with one big rotational lift.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees bent so your thighs are almost parallel to the floor.
  • Keep your back flat and twist your torso to the side, holding a dumbbell in both hands on the outside of your thigh.
  • As you stand up, turn your torso to the opposite side, lifting the dumbbell up and across your body with straight arms.
  • Use your core muscles to control the movement and pivot on your backfoot as you twist.
topless fitness model performing dumbbell side plank snatch as part of a dumbbell abs workout
topless fitness model performing dumbbell side plank snatch as part of a dumbbell abs workout

2. Dumbbell side plank snatch 

Reps: 10 each side
Rest: 60 secs
Sets: 3 

Moving the dumbbell from a side plank position requires high levels of core control and co-ordination – it’s a good one to add to dumbbell chest and core workouts.

  • Get into a side plank position, as above.
  • Let the dumbbell hang down across your stomach.
  • Initiate the movement from your shoulder so you generate momentum that lifts the dumbbell vertically until your arm is straight and pointing up.
topless fitness model performing dumbbell rollout as part of a dumbbell abs workout
topless fitness model performing dumbbell rollout as part of a dumbbell abs workout

3. Dumbbell rollout

Reps: 10 each side
Rest: 60 secs
Sets: 3 

This challenging move will build a rock-solid core, but make sure you keep good form to prevent lower back injuries.

  • Kneel on all fours with your spine and neck neutral and your hands below your shoulders.
  • Keeping your spine neutral, contract your abs to roll the dumbbells out in front of you as far as you can without arching your back.
  • Roll the dumbbells back to the start.
topless fitness model performing dumbbell side bend
topless fitness model performing dumbbell side bend

4. Dumbbell side bend 

Reps: 10 each side
Rest: 60 secs
Sets: 2 

If you want to get the most out of this workout, use a heavy dumbbell set to really hit your side abs in this standing move.

  • Hold a dumbbell in one hand by your side. Put your other hand to the side of your head for stability.
  • Lean as far as you can to the side holding the dumbbell without leaning either forwards or backwards.
topless fitness model performing dumbbell reverse crunch
topless fitness model performing dumbbell reverse crunch

5. Dumbbell reverse crunch 

Reps: 10 each side
Rest: 60 secs
Sets: 3 

Your lower abs are often neglected in favour of doing upper abs moves, such as the crunch. Target them with this move, which is perfect for adding to any lower-abs workouts.

  • Lie on the floor and hold a dumbbell above your head.
  • Contract your abs to pull your legs towards you, bending your knees as you go. At the same time, lift the dumbbell towards your knees.
topless fitness model performing dumbbell side plank with lateral raise
topless fitness model performing dumbbell side plank with lateral raise

6. Dumbbell side plank with lateral raise

Reps: 10 each side
Rest: 60 secs
Sets: 2 

Finish off the dumbbell abs workout with this core-targeting move. Adding a lateral raise to a side plank increases the challenge to your core and improves your co-ordination.

  • Hold your body in a straight line from head to heels and position your elbow directly under your shoulder.
  • Hold the plank position while slowly raising and lowering the weight.
  • Use a light weight to maintain perfect form.