You don’t need the gym to build a stronger core — just 15 minutes and these 5 dumbbell exercises

a woman performing a dumbbell Russian twist
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Core training isn't ever going to be a piece of cake but it definitely doesn't need to take long. You can work your deep core muscles and abs in as little as 15 minutes with one dumbbell and these six moves.

You don't always need to work with weight to form a good core-blasting workout but if you're able to get your hands on one of the best adjustable dumbbells, then you will be able to level up this session.

Adding a dumbbell to a core workout is beneficial because it increases the resistance and intensity of your exercise which should lead to greater muscle engagement and overall strength development. Plus, the additional weight challenges the core muscles to stabilize and control the movement which enhances activation and boots your muscle endurance. 

With that covered, you probably want to know what these six dumbbell exercises are. Let's take a look...

What is the dumbbell core workout?

If you're ready to give this routine a go, the main things to note are it's ten reps per exercise, 30 seconds of rest between each and the aim is to complete two to three rounds in total.

There is a list of the exercises below and we encourage you to take a minute or two to check out Britany Williams', the creator behind this routine demonstrate each move. 

Take note of her form and when you come to do the workout yourself, remember to keep your core engaged and control your breathing as you move through the exercises.

  • Hinge Dumbbell Pass Through
  • Weighted Single Leg Teaser
  • Split Squat Wood Chop & Knee Drive
  • Birddog Tricep Kickback
  • Russian Twist Shoulder Press
  • Weighted Alt Leg Lifts

The selection of exercises in this workout collectively targets various areas of the core, including the rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abdominis, and lower back muscles. Not only do they target your midsection but these exercises also engage the hip flexors, glutes, and even some of your upper body as you work with the weight.

With consistent practice, this style of core workout can contribute to significant results including increased core strength, improved posture, enhanced balance, and greater overall functional fitness. The added resistance from the dumbbells will help to accelerate muscle growth and endurance, making the core more resilient and better equipped to handle physical demands. 

Additionally, if you are working with an adjustable dumbbell or have access to more than one standard dumbbell size you can implement progressive overload into this core workout. You can do so by gradually increasing the weight of the dumbbells with each round or if you struggle to do this immediately, do this as your strength improves over time. 

As a rule of thumb, start with a weight that challenges you but allows for proper form, and aim to increase the weight by a small increment (e.g., 1-2 pounds). Alternatively, you can increase the number of repetitions or sets, or reduce rest intervals between sets to further challenge your muscles. Consistently adding more resistance or volume helps your muscles to continuously adapt and promotes strength gains.

However, you can't rely on this sole workout to drastically change your physique or fitness. To maximize results, you will want to complement this routine with things like a balanced diet, good rest and recovery time, and a varied fitness regimen that includes cardiovascular exercise alongside strength training for other muscle groups in your body.

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Jessica Downey
Fitness Writer

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her love for keeping fit and fueling her body with healthy and enjoyable food quite naturally led her to write about all things fitness and health-related. If she isn’t out testing the latest fitness products such as the latest running shoe or yoga mat for reviewing then she can be found writing news and features on the best ways to build strength, active aging, female health, and anything in between. Before then she had a small stint writing in local news, has also written for Runners World UK (print and digital), and gained experience with global content marketing agency, Cedar Communications.

Born and raised in Scotland, Jessica is a massive fan of exercising and keeping active outdoors. When at home she can be found running by the sea, swimming in it, or up a mountain. This continued as she studied and trained to become a PPA-accredited magazine journalist in Wales. And since working and living in London, she splits her time between weight training in the gym, trying new fitness classes, and finding scenic running routes. Jessica enjoys documenting this on her fitness-inspired Instagram page @jessrunshere where she loves engaging with like-minded fitness junkies.

She is a big fan of healthy cooking and loves learning more about this area with expert nutritionists she has met over the years. Jessica is a big advocate for building healthy relationships with food rather than building restrictive attitudes towards it. When she isn’t eating or running she also enjoys practicing yoga in her free time as it helps her to unwind and benefits her performance in other sports.