A 20-Minute Ab Workout to Strengthen Your Core With Just a Single Dumbbell

Exercising with just one dumbbell recruits more of your stabilizing core muscles.
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Your core is your body's powerhouse. Most physical activity depends on a stable core, so strengthening yours makes daily movements and exercises easier to perform. Plus, you don't need fancy gym equipment or hours of crunches: All it takes is 20 minutes and a single dumbbell.


While body-weight core exercises are great, adding a dumbbell can help you activate muscles that your usual workout misses. A dumbbell can also mean more dynamic movement, because it forces you to stabilize your core. Plus, it might simply be a welcome change to your regular routine.

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Dumbbells are also endlessly versatile, and they don't take up much space. While most come in a set of two, a single weight can be just as beneficial: Using one dumbbell challenges your balance and strengthens the muscles that keep your core stable.

Try the 20-minute workout below using a single dumbbell. Each exercise lists a specific amount of reps; repeat for 3 rounds.

​Check out more of our 20-minute workouts here — we've got something for everyone.​

20-Minute Single-Dumbbell Core Workout

Move 1: Dumbbell Pass-Through

Sets 3
Reps 10
  1. Place a dumbbell on the floor and get into a high plank position on your hands and toes. Your wrists should be under your shoulders with your back flat and butt down. Position the dumbbell on the outside of your left arm.
  2. Using your right hand, scoop the dumbbell from the left side of your body and bring it to your right.
  3. Repeat in the opposite direction, with your left hand scooping the dumbbell from the right. That's one rep.


If your hips are wobbling, spread your feet wider.

Move 2: Dumbbell Knee Tuck

Sets 3
Reps 20
  1. Lie on your back with your legs hovering over the floor and your arms holding a dumbbell over your head.
  2. Simultaneously lift your arms above your head while bringing your torso to an upright position and your knees to your chest. Think of going from a straight line to forming an “N” with your body.
  3. Lower back down, keeping the dumbbell over your head, and repeat.

Move 3: Standing Press

Sets 3
Reps 15
  1. Stand with your legs hip-width apart.
  2. Hold the dumbbell between both palms with your arms straight down by your thighs. Don't let your fingers grip the dumbbell.
  3. Press the dumbbell with your palms as you raise the dumbbell to shoulder height. You should feel your lower core engage.
  4. Slowly lower back down, keeping your arms straight, and repeat.

Move 4: Dumbbell Roll-Up

Sets 3
Reps 15
  1. Lie on your back with your legs straight and your arms outstretched overhead holding a dumbbell by each end.
  2. With your arms straight, slowly roll up vertebra by vertebra until you’re in an upright seated position. Be sure to keep your heels on the ground while rolling up.
  3. Roll back down to starting position and repeat.

Move 5: Russian Twist

Sets 3
Reps 10
  1. Start sitting with your knees bent. You can either place your heels on the ground or elevate them for an extra challenge. Flex your feet.
  2. Hold a dumbbell with both hands at your chest. Lean your torso back slightly. You should feel your lower core and back engaging.
  3. While twisting your torso to the left, bring the dumbbell to the left side of your hip.
  4. Touch the dumbbell down to the ground outside your hip.
  5. Repeat on the right side. That's one rep.

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