Forget planks — this dumbbell abs workout builds core strength in just 8 moves

Man performing dumbbell renegade rows
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Push-ups, crunches, and sit-ups are staple ab workouts, but cranking out endless repetitions can get boring fast. Fortunately, you can shake up your mid-body routine with this 8-move dumbbell workout to strengthen your abs, build core muscle, and improve your posture.

All you need to get started is a set of the best adjustable dumbbells. These customizable weights combine several dumbbells, so you can quickly switch loads between exercises or gradually as you get stronger. Plus, they’re a space-saving alternative to a full rack for home workouts.

This core-strengthening routine was developed by personal trainer Bradley Simmonds and makes good use of your dumbbells to add variety to your sessions. There are a few sit-up and crunch variations, but they sit nicely alongside dumbbell drag-throughs and renegade rows.

Simmonds also includes barbell abs rollouts to challenge your mid-section, but if you only have circular dumbbells to hand, you can use them instead. The aim is to do the specified number of repetitions, start the next move, and repeat the circuit up to five times.

If you’re new to these exercises or could use a refresher, Simmonds demonstrates each move, so you can practice your technique and perfect your form to get the most from your training and avoid injury before you start.

Watch Bradley Simmonds’ 8-move abs workout

These weighted abs exercises target your mid-section and work your core, a collection of muscles that include your rectus abdominis six-pack abs muscle to connect your upper and lower body. So while people use abs and core interchangeably, targeting your core means working more than just your abdominal muscles.

That’s why Simmonds includes several exercises like dumbbell drag-throughs, renegade rows, and rollouts to challenge muscles all over your core. And for good reason — strengthening your core helps increase your balance, improve your posture, and boost your overall workout performance.

However, if you’re hoping to build visible abs, it’ll take more than just these 8 exercises. You’ll also need to focus on reducing the amount of fat around your stomach, but since you can’t spot-target fat in certain areas, that means looking for ways to increase the amount of energy you burn throughout the day.

One of the most efficient ways to boost your metabolism and burn fat is to use high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. These are designed to get you to exercise intensely with minimal rest, raise your heart rate, and work your whole body. If you’re not sure where to start, the best beginner HIIT workouts are a great introduction.

You may have also heard trainers say that abs are made in the kitchen. Exercise plays a vital role, but so does sticking to a healthy diet with plenty of protein. However, if you’re combining intense core workouts with good food, there are other reasons you might not be seeing your abs yet too.

However, Simmonds’ routine is an advanced session, so if you’re new to training your midsection, you should focus on staples like learning how to do a plank, progress to these plank variations, and then add weights into the mix. This way, you can practice good form before increasing the intensity.

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James Frew
Fitness Editor

James is Tom's Guide's Fitness Editor, covering strength training workouts, cardio exercise, and accessible ways to improve your health and wellbeing.


His interest in fitness started after being diagnosed with a chronic illness, and he began focusing on strengthening his core, taking regular walks around the city, and practicing meditation to manage the symptoms. He also invested in fitness trackers, home workout equipment, and yoga mats to find accessible ways to train without the gym.


Before joining the team at Tom’s Guide, James was the Fitness Editor at Fit&Well, where he covered beginner-friendly exercise routines, affordable ways to boost your wellbeing, and reviewed weights, rowing machines, and workout headphones.


He believes that exercise should be something you enjoy doing, so appreciates the challenge of finding ways to incorporate it into everyday life through short muscle-building sessions, regular meditation, and early morning walks.