How to Do Sit-Ups With Dumbbells

Sit-ups are an integral part of any workout routine. People of all ages complete the move — from children in gym class to adults in workout classes even to professional athletes in competition. But for extra resistance and to add difficulty to this simple exercise, just add dumbbells.

Get a strong core by adding dumbbells to sit-ups (Image: Ibrakovic/iStock/Getty Images)

Lauren Conner, personal trainer and owner of CrossFit ARX says that adding weight to your ab exercises, "helps you hit different 'corners' of your core that you cannot get to as easily with a non-weighted sit-up."

How to Perform

  1. Lie down on a mat or bench with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place a dumbbell in your hands and hold the dumbbell to your chest.
  2. Engage the core and slowly roll up so that the dumbbell touches your knees. Emphasize proper body position to get the best abdominal results.
  3. Lower back down with control and repeat.

Adding weight to your ab exercises, "helps you hit different 'corners' of your core that you cannot get to as easily with a non-weighted sit-up."

—Lauren Conner, personal trainer and owner of CrossFit ARX

Alternatives

Explore alternative ways to hold a dumbbell to complete a dumbbell sit-up.

  • Hold a dumbbell out in front of you with straight arms as you sit-up.
  • Alternatively, hold two dumbbells, one in each hand with your arms straight out in front of you. The two dumbbells challenges your abs with a sit-up and forces you to brace your entire core and arm muscles to balance during the action.
  • Another option to activate the obliques is to hold one dumbbell in each hand. As you sit-up, punch your right arm across your body and crunch up towards the left side. Lower back down and repeat on the other side.
Add dumbbells to sit-ups for a more advanced exercise (Image: Rawpixel Ltd/iStock/Getty Images)

Advanced Option

For the advanced athlete, perform weighted sit-ups on a decline bench. Start by hooking your feet into the end of the bench and lower down.

Perform a sit-up holding the dumbbell as you would normally, but because of the angle of the decline, you'll feel greater activation in your core muscles.

Crunches May Offer More Acute Activation

According to a study done by the Journal of Sport Rehabilitation, the crunch exercise activates the rectus abdominis to a greater extent than the sit-up. Therefore, try adding crunches with a dumbbell to your ab routine for more core activation.

Warning

For anyone with low back problems, sit-ups should be avoided since they can put unnecessary pressure and compressive force on discs in your back.

If you’d like a core workout while still using dumbbells, try incorporating planks into your routine with a dumbbell on your back. The added weight on your back will challenge your core without putting pressure on your low back.

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