At-home fitness equipment might be harder to come by these days, but that doesn't mean you can't get a little creative with the tools you do have. If you have a lonely dumbbell lying around, this 20-minute ab workout is just what you're looking for.
While body-weight ab exercises like planks and sit-ups are great, you'll want to increase the resistance over time and make them more challenging, and adding load with one dumbbell is the perfect way to level things up.
Building strong abs can also help prevent and reduce lower back pain — a common complaint from people who are working from home more often. Just make sure to check with your doctor or physical therapist what exercises are safe for your back.
This 20-minute dumbbell ab workout, which is filled with rotations, will target your entire core and help you build the stability and strength to perform everyday tasks. If you own an adjustable dumbbell, it will particularly come in handy with these exercises because you can easily adjust the weight based on how heavy you'd like to go.
Check out more of our 20-minute workouts here — we’ve got something for everyone.
Move 1: Russian Twist
- Sit with your bent knees and feet on the floor. Hold a dumbbell with both hands and lean back until you feel your abs are engaged — about 45 degrees.
- Keeping your abs tight and back straight, twist your torso slightly from side to side without moving your legs. The movement should come from rotation in the torso and not the arms, and be sure to keep your gaze on the dumbbell the entire time.
- One twist counts as one rep. Continue for 15 to 20 reps.
Perform this exercise slowly and with control. Keep your abdominals tight throughout the entire movement.
Move 2: Sit-Up
- Lie face-up on the floor with your knees bent at 90-degree angles and feet firmly on the floor. Hold the dumbbell on each end with both hands by your chest.
- Holding the dumbbell by your chest and keeping your legs still, initiate movement from your abs to sit up, lifting your torso off the floor and straightening your arms to lift the dumbbell in front of you.
- Hold this pose for one count before slowly coming back down to the starting position. This is one rep.
- Complete 15 to 20 reps.
If you're not able to lift the dumbbell at the top of the movement, continue holding the dumbbell by your chest with both hands until you build the strength to do the more advanced variation.
Move 3: Wood Chop
- Stand tall with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and toes slightly turned out. Hold the dumbbell with both hands on the outside of your right thigh.
- Lift the dumbbell diagonally across your body, slowly twisting your torso to the left side, and finishing with the dumbbell to the left side overhead. Your right heel might lift slightly as you pivot to twist your torso.
- Hold the dumbbell in this position for one count and then bring the weight back down diagonally to the right side.
- This is one rep. Complete 12 reps on the right side before moving onto the left side.
Make sure you do this exercise slowly and with control. Avoid swinging the dumbbell from side to side.
Move 4: Ab Wheel
- If you have an adjustable dumbbell with rotating plates, you can use it as an ab wheel for a more advanced movement to work your entire core. If you have a non-adjustable dumbbell, you can do this exercise by stacking your hands on the handle. Once you choose your weight, get into a kneeling position and place a towel or exercise mat under your knees for support.
- Holding the dumbbell and keeping your abs tight, roll your hands, arms and upper body forward while contracting your abs. Roll as far forward as you physically feel comfortable. Keep your back flat and look straight down throughout the movement, and avoid allowing your hips to drop toward the ground or arch your lower back as you roll forward.
- The longer you can hold the position at the end of the movement, the more intensely you will end up working your abdominals. At the finish, use your core muscles to roll the dumbbell back toward your knees to the starting position.
- This is one rep. Complete 12 to 15 reps.
This is a very advanced movement that requires a great deal of core strength and stability to perform correctly. It is very easy to injure yourself if you rush into the movement or perform it incorrectly. If you aren't able to do this exercise with proper form, build your core strength with the other abdominal exercises, and slowly work your way up to this move.