You don’t need a home gym to get this weighted abs workout done, just one medium or heavy weight of your choosing and a hot 10 minutes. I’m a bit obsessed with this dumbbell abs workout, and if your goal is to build strong and defined abs, I reckon you will be too.
I’ve been on a core-torching mission lately, testing creations like this 15-minute dumbbell abs workout and a particularly torturous but effective bodyweight Pilates ab workout for abs and glutes, but this one was the toughest. And while there’s no sign of a rippling six-pack just yet, this workout has every potential. All you need is an exercise mat and one of the best adjustable dumbbells (or sub in a kettlebell), and voilà.
The weighted abs workout follows a no-repeat format, which is great news if you — like me — prefer to empty the tank on each exercise and never see or speak of it again (at least for another week). It’s perfect for tacking onto the end of an existing routine or breaking up your lunch hour. But if you’re suffering from a lower back injury, always check in with a qualified health professional before undertaking new workouts.
Good to go? Read on for my results when I tackled this 10-minute weighted abs workout.
Watch the 10-minute weighted abs workout
This creative weighted abs workout requires tip-top form and Dan — who owns this workout — recommends being ‘deliberate’ with your movements to get the most from your core. If you’re unsure what this means, try to squeeze your core throughout each exercise and work through the full range of motion.
For example, during the dumbbell sit-ups (found at 1:40 in the video), exhale as you sit up and reach the dumbbell as far as you can. On your inhale, slowly lower while still squeezing your stomach muscles until your upper back touches the floor.
I used a 15 lb/ 7kg dumbbell, the same as Dan, but I recommend having one heavier and a lighter option on standby, if possible. This weights abs workout follows 30 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest, but while it doesn’t sound like an arduous workout split, 10 seconds goes painfully fast when you’re shaking your way to the finish line.
I like that the video timestamps each core exercise, so you can get a brief idea of what torture is in store. Although the idea is to use one weight throughout, movements like the plank dumbbell drag (3:00) and Russian twists (4:20) might require you to drop down if you’re new to ab workouts, so find a challenging middle ground.
According to the Mayo Clinic, any exercise that requires your stomach and back muscles to work in coordination counts as a core exercise, and using free weights like dumbbells trains and strengthens your core and other muscles. "Classic" core exercises, like the ones in this video, can help tone and define your underlying muscles, but building definition also comes down to burning fat and maintaining a balanced diet — you can learn how to calculate your body fat percentage and why it matters here.
I tried the 10-minute weighted abs workout to build strong and defined abs — here’s what happened
Although the best core exercises can build a solid trunk, they can feel repetitive and uninspiring. A balance that most personal trainers try to strike is keeping workouts fun while creating a program consistent enough to produce results. There’s a method to the mundanity, but training should be inspiring, too.
The beauty of a 10-minute weighted abs workout is that you can add it to your existing routine to spice things up. I gave the exercises a glance over before giving them a go and was pleased that the workout targets pretty much all your core muscles by working you through different planes of motion.
For example, you can expect twisting, crunching, isometric (static) holds, and some savage pulsing movements, too. This provides variety, and most importantly, challenge. Two exercises that floored me were the lean-back pulses and extended overhead crunch. Both use a small crunching pulse to fire up your abs; 30 seconds has never felt so long and 7kg never felt so heavy. To truly rinse these, squeeze your abs in time with the pulse, and send blame this way tomorrow.
The side plank sequence is a three-minute madness. A 30-second side plank is followed by 30 seconds of dips, all while holding your dumbbell to your hip, repeated on both sides. Dan doesn’t seem to break a sweat once during this workout which is still baffling me. I, on the other hand, was a mess.
If you don't have a dumbbell to hand, fear not, because a kettlebell works just as well. They can be harder to grip, so I recommend scaling back on weight if it's unstable to hold.
Next: I tried this 30-day kettlebell challenge to build strength all over — and here’s what happened. Also check out what happened when I did ab wheel rollouts every day for a week — and here are my results.
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Sam Hopes is a level III fitness trainer, level II reiki practitioner, and senior fitness writer at Future PLC, the publisher of Tom's Guide. She is also about to undertake her Yoga For Athletes training course. Having trained to work with mind and body, Sam is a big advocate of using mindfulness techniques in sport and fitness, and their impact on performance. She’s also passionate about the fundamentals of training and building sustainable training methods. When she's not writing up her experiences with the latest fitness tech and workouts, you’ll find her writing about nutrition, sleep, recovery, and wellness.