dumbbell abs exercises

Dumbbell Abs Exercises

If you’re just starting on your path towards fitness, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the many myths about dumbbell ab exercises. The reality is, strong abs and six-pack abs are not synonymous.

Your body is unique, and, as a result, the way it responds to changes in your exercise regimen and diet may not match up with your preconceived notions of how your body “should” look. 

ab exercises with dumbbells

However, while you can’t always control how your abs look, you are in control of how strong they are. (1, 2)

By maintaining a strong core, you can improve your balance, stability, and overall posture. 

Additionally, regular core exercises may make it easier for you to perform physical activities and aid in weight loss while simultaneously strengthening and toning your abs. (3, 4)

Keep reading to learn five exercises for the abs using dumbbells that you can do at home!

PS! For a full list of exercises that you can do with a pair of dumbbells see here.

5 Abs Exercises Using Dumbbells

1. Oblique Crunch With Dumbbells

Standing Dumbbell Oblique Crunch to Stretch - YouTube

Target Muscle Groups: Core (Abdominals, Obliques)

What Do You Need: 1 Dumbbell, Exercise Mat

How To Do It:

  1. Stand on your exercise mat with your feet shoulder-width distance apart, and your knees slightly bent.
  2. Grab one dumbbell with your left hand, and remember to keep your back straight up through to your neck.
  3. Allow your arms to hang down so that your dumbbell is by your left leg. Your palm should be facing in towards your thigh.
  4. Bend your right arm at the elbow so that your right hand is cupping the back of your head. This is your starting position.
  5. Lower your dumbbell slowly towards your left foot while keeping your chest up. Try to reach down until your dumbbell is at level with, or just passing, your left knee.
  6. Pause at the end of your stretch down before pulling your dumbbell back up into the starting position to complete one rep.
  7. Repeat with your left side until you’ve completed half of your set before switching to your right side to finish.

Reps x Sets: Aim for 3 sets of 10 reps to start and, as the exercise becomes more manageable, increase to 4 sets of 12 reps to prevent muscle stagnation.

Youtube: Click here to see a video of oblique crunches in action for additional instructions, or click here to see a shorter, less explanatory video to get an idea of how your form should look.

2. Woodchop

How To Do The Dumbbell Woodchop | Coach

Target Muscle Groups: Core (Abdominals, Obliques), Shoulders (Deltoids), Lower Back (Latissimus Dorsi), Hips (Hip Flexors)

What Do You Need: 1 Dumbbell, Exercise Mat

How To Do It:

  1. Stand on your exercise mat with your feet slightly turned out and shoulder-width distance apart.
  2. Grip one dumbbell in both hands and bend your knees until your thighs are parallel with the floor in a squat position. Hold your dumbell in a horizontal position with your fingers wrapped firmly around both weighted ends and your palms facing in towards each other.
  3. Keep your back straight and twist your hips towards your right side. Position your dumbbell so that it’s in line with your right leg around your lower thigh or knee. This is your starting position.
  4. Use your right foot to pivot as you twist at the hips. Lift your dumbbell up and across your body diagonally.
  5. Pause at the top of your movement. Keep your core engaged as you return your dumbell to the starting position in a controlled motion and complete the rep.
  6. Repeat with your right side until you’ve completed half of your set before switching to your left side to finish.

Reps x Sets: Start with 3 sets of 8 reps, and, as you improve, you may want to think about upping your exercises to 4 sets of as many as 12 reps.

Youtube: To see an overview of what your wood chops should look like in less than 60 seconds, click here. If you prefer a guide to break things down and help you out along the way, then you may want to check out this longer format video by clicking here.

3. Crunch With Dumbbell

Dumbbell Abs Workout For A Solid Core | Coach

Target Muscle Groups: Core (Abdominals), Back (Latissimus Dorsi)

What Do You Need: 1 Dumbbell, Exercise Mat

How To Do It:

  1. Lay down, facing up, on your exercise mat with your back flat.
  2. Raise your feet 6 – 8 inches into the air so that your knees create a 90-degree angle, and your calves are perpendicular to the floor.
  3. Grip your dumbell horizontally, with your fingers wrapped firmly around the weighted ends and your palms facing in towards each other. You may also want to ask a friend or third party to hand your dumbbell to you after you’ve gotten into position.
  4. Rest your dumbell on or just above your chest so that it’s lower than your knees. This is your starting position.
  5. Squeeze your abs and slowly drive your dumbbell up until your arms are fully extended.
  6. Pause at the top of your press. Make sure your core is fully engaged as you continue to push up through your shoulders and your upper back leaves the floor.
  7. Pause again at the top of your movement before slowly lowering yourself and your dumbell, back into the starting position to complete the rep.

Reps x Sets: Go for 3 sets of 10 reps to begin. Once you’re more familiar with doing a crunch with your dumbell, you may find yourself moving through sets faster. At this point, you should consider increasing your routine to 4 sets of up to 15 reps.

Youtube: Need a quick demonstration to get started? Click here to see the correct form for your crunches in less than 30 seconds. Or, you can click here for an extended guided demonstration to help you along as you work out.

4. Russian Twists With Dumbbells

Seated Russian Twist | These Are the 17 Best Ab-Strengthening ...

Target Muscle Groups: Core (Abdominals, Obliques), Lower Back (Latissimus Dorsi, Erector Spinae), Hips (Hip flexors), Shoulders / Upper Back (Scapular muscles)

What Do You Need: 1 Dumbbell, Exercise Mat

How To Do It:

  1. Sit on your exercise mat with your knees bent at a 45-degree angle and your heels pressed into the ground.
  2. Lean back slightly and straighten your spine to create a shape with your thighs and torso.
  3. Grip one dumbbell with both hands so that your dumbbell is parallel with the floor. Your palms should be facing in towards each other.
  4. Make sure your hands are wrapped firmly around each weighted end and lift your dumbbell to chest level; this is your starting position. You may also want to consider having a friend or third party pass your dumbell to you after you’re in position.
  5. Squeeze your abdominals to engage your core and twist your torso to the left, back to your center, and to the right in one fluid movement.
  6. Pause as you return your dumbell and your torso into the starting position to complete the rep.

Reps x Sets: You may want to start with 8 reps at a time for 3 sets before escalating your workout game up to 4 sets of 12-15 reps.

Youtube: Click here to check out a quick 20-second video of what your Russian twists with dumbbells should look like in action. Or, you can click here to see a longer video with tips and tricks to help you master your routine.

5. Bicycle Crunch With Dumbbell

Bicycle Crunches: The Best Abs Exercise According to ACE | Coach

Target Muscle Groups: Core (Abdominals, Obliques), Hips (Hip Flexors), Legs (Hamstrings, Quadriceps)

What Do You Need: 1 Dumbbell, Exercise Mat

How To Do It:

  1. Lie down on your exercise mat facing up with your knees bent at a 45-degree angle, and your feet pressed into the floor.
  2. Grip your dumbbell in both hands, with your palms facing in towards each other. Your dumbbell bar should be parallel to the floor. You can also have a friend or third party hand you your dumbbell, if necessary.
  3. Hold your dumbbell above your chest so that it’s almost at level with your knees.
  4. Lift your feet so that your calves run parallel with the floor. Your hips and your knees should create a 90-degree angle. This is your starting position.
  5. Keeping your legs in the air, pedal your feet as if you’re riding an imaginary bicycle.
  6. While pedaling continuously, raise your torso off the floor slightly and twist with your dumbbell to the left.
  7. Twist your dumbbell and torso back towards the center and past your right leg, if possible, in one fluid motion.
  8. Twist your dumbbell and torso towards your center again to resume the starting position and complete one rep.

Reps x Sets: Begin with 3 sets of 12 reps and elevate your workout to 4 sets of up to 20 reps as this workout gets easier to perform.

Youtube: Want to see how to do this exercise, but short on time? Click here for an ultra-quick 6-second video demonstration of bicycle crunches with dumbbells. Or, you can click here for a longer video to keep you on track as you exercise.

Dumbbell Recommendations

Now you know the moves, but do you have the equipment? Keep reading to find out some of my top dumbbell recommendations for your in-home gym.

Powerblock

PowerBlock SPORT 24 Adjustable Dumbbells 3-24 lbs. Pair

If you’re looking for a set of dumbbells that will grow with you as you improve, then I highly recommend Powerblock’s Sports Series. 

To find out more about Powerblock’s Sports Series, as well as their other lines of adjustable dumbbells, click here for my full in-depth Powerblock Dumbbell review.

Bowflex

Bowflex SelectTech 552 - Two Adjustable Dumbbells on Galleon ...

Do you plan on putting your dumbbells through the wringer with intensive, regular exercises? 

Then Bowflex’s SelectTech adjustable dumbbells may be precisely what you’re looking for. You can find out for sure by checking out my thorough Bowflex Dumbbells review.

Ironmaster

IronMaster Quick-Lock Dumbbells - 75 LB SET | Fitness Experience

Ironmaster’s adjustable dumbbells are a compact, gym-quality weight lifting option for anyone who expects their dumbbells to last for years and years to come. 

Learn more about what Ironmaster has to offer by checking out my extensive review of their adjustable dumbbells here.

Hex Dumbbells

BodyMax Rubber Hex Dumbbell Sets - Shop Online - Powerhouse Fitness

Are you still unsure if working with dumbbells is for you? Then, your best option may be rubber hex dumbbells. 

Hex dumbbells are an affordable yet effective alternative to adjustable dumbbells that you can use to get accustomed to working out with dumbbells regularly. 

Click here to find out more about my top cheap rubber hex dumbbell recommendations.

The Bottomline

get abs with dumbbells

While it may never be possible for some people to attain photoshoot-ready washboard abs, you can make sure that you exercise your core regularly to keep your body looking and feeling fit. 

Rather than making your goal a certain aesthetic or weight loss, try to focus instead on improving how you move and perform as an athlete.

Below, I’ve included a full workout with dumbbells so you can start using today to help you on your path towards better health and physical fitness. 

Just grab your dumbbells, exercise mat, and a water bottle to stay hydrated!

Example Routine for Beginners:

  • Oblique Crunch With Dumbbells: 10 Reps x 3 Sets
  • Woodchop: 8 Reps x 3 Sets
  • Crunch With Dumbbells: 10 Reps x 3 Sets
  • Russian Twists With Dumbbells: 8 Reps x 3 Sets
  • Bicycle Crunch With Dumbbell: 12 Reps x 3 Sets

If you like this article, check out our other reviews on DumbbellsReviews.com by clicking here.

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