I just tried this Pamela Reif ab workout with 6.3 million views — here’s what happened

Pamela Reif ab workout with weights
(Image credit: Pamela Reif)

There’s a reason why Pamela Reif has more than eight million subscribers on her YouTube channel — her workouts will work you hard in a short amount of time. Got ten minutes between meetings? Grab one of the best adjustable dumbbells (or a full water bottle), and your exercise mat, and try this ab workout with weights. 

Sculpting a strong core isn’t just an aesthetic goal — strong abdominal muscles are important for most sports, and can help relieve lower back pain and improve your posture. Remember, abs are made in the kitchen, so no amount of crunches or 10 minute ab workouts will tone your midsection if you’re not eating a healthy, balanced diet. Take a look at our guide to calculating your body fat percentage, and why it matters, here. 

It goes without saying that what works for Pamela might not work for you, so if you’re a complete beginner, or you’re returning to exercise after some time off with injury, it’s a good idea to check with a personal trainer to ensure your form is correct before adding weights.

Looking for more workout inspiration? Here’s the best ab exercises to try, according to Chris Hemsworth’s PT, how long you need to hold a plank for to see results, and what happened when I did 100 dead bugs a day for a week

What is the Pamela Reif weighted ab workout? 

The workout is 10 minutes long and Reif suggests using a 4kg (approximately 9 pounds) dumbbell, although you can use a lighter weight if you’d prefer. If you don’t have a dumbbell, Reif suggests using a water bottle, a bag or rice, oats or other grains, or a carton of milk (make sure it’s not been opened). Alternatively, you can do the workout without any weights — a large portion of the workout is done with bodyweight, so don’t stress too much if you can’t find a spare milk carton or water bottle.

a photo of Pamela Reif doing ab exercises

(Image credit: Pamela Reif)

The workout follows a simple structure — you follow along with Reif and do 30-seconds of each exercise, without any breaks. 

Reif adds some important form explainers for some of the exercises included in the workout bio, writing “if we lay down on our back, make sure to keep your LOWER BACK flat on the mat. Only lower your legs as far as possible, so your lower back is not lifting off the mat!” She also reminded viewers that it was important to think about engaging your core for the entire workout — here’s what that means and why it matters. 

I tried this Pamela Reif ab workout with weights — here’s what happened

It’s been a while since I did one of Pamela Reif’s workouts (read what happened when I tried her famous six-minute ab routine here), but a quick glance at the YouTube video’s comments let me know that I was in for an intense ab burner. “Damn this was a killer workout,” one user wrote. 

They weren’t wrong — Pamela doesn’t give you any warm-up. You’re straight in to the crunches and sit ups holding a dumbbell in between your hands. I own a set of 3kg and 5kg dumbbells (6.6 and 11 pounds, respectively), so I challenged myself to perform the exercises with the heavier weight. 

a photo of Pamela Reif doing ab exercises

(Image credit: Pamela Reif)

As I’ve mentioned in previous workout stories, I suffer from sciatica, so have to be mindful of my lower back when practicing certain exercises, especially if there is weight added. For the jackknifes and the leg raises, I reduced the range of motion to ensure my lower spine stayed pressed into the mat at all times. 

At five minutes in, my core was definitely working hard. Like a lot of Reif’s workouts, the lack of breaks really forces you to work hard. Although you didn’t need it for a big chunk of the workout, adding the dumbbell to some exercises really forced me to engage my core, squeezing my belly button in towards my spine as I twisted and crunched up. 

As I begin another marathon training block, this workout reminded me that actually, a good workout doesn’t require me to head to the gym and sweat for an hour — I can just as easily grab a dumbbell and move in the ten minutes between meetings. I often use the excuse that I’m too busy to strength train, but once again, Pamela has proved this definitely isn’t the case. 

Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.