How do you get stronger legs? Add weight to your squats. How do you get sculpted biceps? Add weight to your curls. How do you get a stronger back? Add weight to your rows. At this point you've probably noticed the pattern: If you want to get stronger, add more weight.
Yet for some reason, many people just keep adding rep after rep of body-weight crunches to their weekly exercise routine in pursuit of six-pack abs. Like your legs, biceps and back, your abs are muscles and need resistance to grow and strengthen.
Adding a dumbbell to these common ab exercises will take your core strength to the next level — and they won't leave you crunching for hours each week. Mathew Forzaglia, certified personal trainer and founder of Forzag Fitness on the NEOU App, recommends you give these dumbbell ab exercises a go.
1. Russian Twist
- Begin seated with the dumbbell in your hands, arms extended in front of you.
- With your knees bent and feet flat on the ground, lean back slightly, engaging your core.
- Keeping your lower body stable, twist your torso to the right and bring the dumbbell to the right side.
- Twist to the left and move the dumbbell at the same time.
- Alternate twisting and moving the dumbbell to your right and left.
2. Weighted Crunch
- Hold a dumbbell directly over your chest and lie on the ground, knees bent and pointed up to the ceiling with feet flat on the floor.
- Exhale and contract your abs and raise your head, neck and shoulders off the ground, continuing to hold the dumbbell slightly away from your chest.
- Inhale and lower back down.
3. Weighted Swiss Ball Crunch
- Hold a dumbbell directly over your chest and lie on a stability ball. Your knees should be at 90 degrees with your middle back supported by the stability ball.
- Contract your abs and raise off the ball, continuing to hold the dumbbell slightly away from your chest.
- Inhale and lower back down so that your head is past slightly parallel with your torso.
4. Side-Lying Dumbbell Raise
- Begin lying on your left side with your legs and hips stacked, a dumbbell in your right hand.
- Prop yourself up on your left elbow, keeping it directly in line with your shoulder.
- Raise the dumbbell up to the ceiling with your arm straight.
- Lower the weight slowly to your right hip.
- Perform all your reps with the right arm, then switch sides.
You can make this exercise even more challenging by coming into a full side-plank position.