The 6 Hardest Ab Exercises You Can Do With a Single Dumbbell

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Just like any muscle group, your abdominals need to be constantly challenged to get the chiseled, defined midsection you desire. And you're not going to get it from doing a bunch of sit-ups every day.

Adding some resistance, like a light dumbbell, to your ab workouts will give your muscles a new challenge while building strength and balance. With dumbbell core workouts on board, over time, you'll also find that daily tasks, such as opening doors and lifting heavy things, are easier and less painful.

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If you're looking to try some dumbbell core workouts, consider incorporating these advanced dumbbell ab exercises. These tough dumbbell core exercises not only incorporate plyometrics, but they also use speed and power to build muscle. Plus, with the added resistance of using a dumbbell, they require a great deal of stability to do them correctly, forcing you to recruit more muscles.

Just remember that when you're introducing load to any exercise, the key is to start light and build up gradually. In this case, you want to start with a one- to three-pound dumbbell.

If you aren't able to do these dumbbell ab exercises with proper form, it's a sign you need to scale back on the load or regress to body-weight versions of the moves.

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1. Dumbbell Plank Lean and Drag

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Type Strength
Region Core
  1. Start in a high-plank position with your shoulders directly over your wrists and your legs extended behind you. Hold a dumbbell with your right hand.
  2. Tuck your pelvis to brace your core and keep your quads and glutes tight.
  3. Slide the dumbbell back toward your right foot and then bring it back to the starting position.
  4. Next, slide the dumbbell across your body under your left arm and then bring it back to the starting position.
  5. Switch sides and continue to alternate.

2. Dumbbell Side Plank With Reach Under

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Type Strength
Region Core
  1. Lie on your left side with your forearm on the floor and your shoulder directly above your elbow. Extend your legs, stacking your top and bottom hips, and hold the dumbbell with your right hand.
  2. Keeping your hips square and slightly forward, lift your hips off the ground and reach your right arm toward the ceiling.
  3. Next, rotate your torso toward the floor to bring the dumbbell underneath your body.
  4. Then bring the dumbbell back up to the starting position and switch sides.

3. Dumbbell Woodchop

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Type Strength
Region Core
  1. Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and toes slightly turned out.
  2. Rotate your torso toward the left side, pivoting on the ball of your right foot, and hold the dumbbell with both hands overhead to the left.
  3. Then, pivot on the ball of your left foot to bring the dumbbell diagonally across your body, rotating your torso to the right and squatting down to hold the dumbbell outside of your right leg.
  4. Switch sides and continue to alternate.

4. Dumbbell Pullover to Squat

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Type Strength
Region Core
  1. Lie down on the floor with your knees bent and feet firmly on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Hold the dumbbell with both hands and extend your arms overhead.
  2. Keeping your arms straight and engaging your abs, pull the dumbbell toward your feet as you sit up and get into a low squat. Try to keep your feet planted on the ground as you sit up into a squat.
  3. Slowly roll your body back down to the floor to return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat.

5. Dumbbell Oblique Twist

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Type Strength
Region Core
  1. Lie on your back with your left leg straight and your right leg bent, with your foot against your inner left thigh. Hold the dumbbell with both hands and extend your arms overhead.
  2. Keeping your arms straight and engaging your abs, sit up until your back is upright.
  3. Next, rotate your torso to the left, keeping your arms straight and the dumbbell in front of your chest.
  4. Return to the center and then lower your body back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat, then switch sides.

6. Dumbbell to Toe Raise

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Type Strength
Region Core
  1. Lie on your back with your legs straight and hold the dumbbell with both hands, arms extended overhead.
  2. Lift your legs and arms off the ground at the same time and bring them toward each other so the dumbbell lightly taps your shins.
  3. Pause for a second at the top and then slowly lower your body back to the starting position.

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