You don’t need the gym to sculpt your abs — just try this 5-move dumbbell routine

fit woman's abs
(Image credit: Getty Images)

So you want to build some definition in your abs and strengthen the muscles in your core, but keep it simple? We hear you. The last thing you need is for an ab workout to take forever to complete and require you to use lots of equipment. That's why we've sourced a simple five move ab routine designed by Kayla Itsines that uses just your body weight and one pair of dumbbells to get results.

You won't need to travel to the gym to try this workout: you'll just need to pick up some of the best adjustable dumbbells or any standard pair of dumbbells to get started. Incorporating dumbbells into an ab routine adds resistance, increasing the intensity of exercises and encouraging muscle growth, which can lead to stronger and more defined abdominal muscles.

When selecting a dumbbell weight for training your abs, it's generally recommended to start with lighter weights, such as two to five pounds, and gradually increase as your strength and endurance improve. The weight should be challenging enough that you feel resistance during exercises without compromising form or causing strain on your lower back. It's always best to consult a professional fitness trainer if you aren't sure what weight you should be working with or if you need help correcting your form.

What is the workout?

The workout consists of five exercises in total. This is broken down the video below where Itsines demonstrates each move. Make sure to watch her form as correct form leads to greater results and helps to prevent injury.

It's important to understand the distinction between abs and the core. While abs typically refer to the visible muscles of the rectus abdominis, a strong core encompasses a broader group of muscles, including the abdominals, obliques, lower back, and pelvis. 

Having a strong core is vital for maintaining stability, balance, and proper posture in daily activities and exercise performance. Strong core muscles also assist in injury prevention, particularly in the lower back and pelvis, through providing support and stability to the spine during movement.

Building visible abdominal muscles takes time and consistency. Abs don't appear overnight, and results vary from person to person based on factors such as genetics, body composition, and overall lifestyle. Sustainable ways to build ab muscle include maintaining a balanced diet, incorporating regular cardiovascular exercise to reduce body fat, and performing targeted ab workouts like the one shown above.

When you train your core, aim to focus on controlled movements rather than solely aiming for high repetitions or heavy weights. Additionally, varying your ab workouts by incorporating different exercises and equipment can prevent plateauing and keep your muscles challenged.

Ready to give this five-move routine a shot?

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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.