The 30-Day Dumbbell Challenge builds strength from head to toe. Get all the details on the challenge here.
A set of seriously sculpted abs is the unicorn of the fitness world: hard to track down, but once you do, you want to show it off. And if you've stopped seeing progress with your body-weight ab workouts, it's time to add a dumbbell.
"This is a style of training called progressive overload,"says Mathew Forzaglia, certified personal trainer and founder of Forzag Fitness on the NEOU App. "We add more weight to a specific muscle group, forcing it to adapt to a heavier stimulus." Ultimately, that leads to stronger, more defined abs.
"We can also add a dumbbell into core workouts to create a distraction for the primary movement," Forzaglia says. "For example, a dumbbell plank drag: We are focusing on a plank position, but by pulling the dumbbell through side to side, this will force the body to have to work together to control the hips and core."
Ready for a tighter core? Check out the four exercises below from Forzaglia, our 30-Day Dumbbell Challenge host. You'll do this workout every time our 30-day calendar says "Abs." (You can also do this workout anytime outside of the challenge!)
Every six days, the rep scheme changes so that you're doing the following:
Sets and Reps per Exercise
Try This Dumbbell Workout for Abs
For this workout, you'll need a dumbbell. If you don't have one, try one of these creative alternatives to dumbbells.
First, start with a quick warm-up: Walk briskly for 5 minutes or jog in place for 3 minutes to get your chest and arm muscles ready to work. You can also try these core activation exercises.
1. Dumbbell Weighted Crunch
- Lie down on your back, knees bent and pointed up to the ceiling with your feet flat on the floor.
- Hold one end of a dumbbell in each hand directly over your chest.
- Exhale and contract your abs as you raise your head, neck and shoulders off the ground, continuing to hold the dumbbell near your chest.
- Inhale and lower back down with control.
2. Russian Twist
- Start seated, holding a single dumbbell with one end in each hand in front of your abdomen.
- Lean back slightly to engage your core.
- Twist your torso to the right, tapping the weight to the ground on that side.
- Use your abs to rotate back through center, then twist to the left side. That's 1 rep.
3. Dumbbell Woodchop
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart holding a heavy dumbbell with one end in each hand.
- Bend your knees slightly and hinge your hips back into a semi-squat as you lower the weight toward your right shin.
- As you stand back up, use your core to swing the weight up over your head and to the left.
- Return to the semi-squat position with the weight to your right side. That's 1 rep.
- Do all your reps on one side before repeating on the other.
4. Dumbbell Plank Drag
- Start in a forearm plank with your elbows below your shoulders and your body in a straight line from head to hips to heels.
- Position a dumbbell just behind your right elbow.
- Engaging your glutes, lower back and abs, reach your left arm across your chest to grab the dumbbell, dragging it under your body.
- Pause when the dumbbell is beneath your left shoulder.
- Return your forearm to the ground and repeat on the opposite side. That's 1 rep.
Follow Along With the Challenge
Use the calendar below to help you stay on track with the 30-Day Dumbbell Challenge. Do the workout (or rest day) listed, then check off each day as you complete it. (Get a printer-friendly version here.)
Back to the 30-Day Dumbbell Challenge