You don't need weights to build a stronger core, just this 4-move bodyweight workout

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

Those looking to build core strength and increase definition across this muscle group will need to consider incorporating a variety of core exercises that target different muscle groups within the core.

You will also want to ensure that you focus on maintaining proper form during your exercise to effectively engage the muscles. We have found a perfect workout to help you do just this.

The best ab workouts don't require equipment to get you results. In this core building routine designed by Zanna van Dijk there are four exercises to perform, all of which just use your bodyweight.

You will notice Dijk uses a dumbbell, but this is just for working around in the exercises rather than for lifting. You could simply use your water bottle if you don't have access to a dumbbell.

4-move bodyweight workout for the core

This workout ditches the more traditional ab exercises that you may be more familiar with such as planks and crunches and instead uses moves like V-Sits and Pike Lifts to target your deep core muscles.

You will perform a set number of reps per exercise and repeat the entire workout three times over. The main thing to pay attention to is hitting the right form on every exercise to target the right muscles and prevent injury. Below you can watch Dijk perform each move and find a breakdown of the routine.

Lateral V Sits (16 reps)

Demonstrating this move in the video, Dijk has an upright dumbbell placed on the floor and sits on the floor next to the dumbbell with her legs extended to one side of it. Her hands are on the floor behind the hips for support. She then brings legs back towards the body before extending them out to the opposite side of the dumbbell.

Pike Leg Lifts (10 reps)

For this exercise, Dijk lies on her back with her legs extended and hands holding two dumbbells behind her head — any heavy item that you can hold onto will do. She engages her core muscles by pressing her lower back into the floor. Then Dijk lifts her legs toward the ceiling, keeping them straight before lowering back down and repeating for 10 reps.

Bear Dumbbell Taps (12 reps)

Sitting on the floor with her knees bent and hands planted on the ground behind her Dijk lifts her feet off the ground, bringing her knees towards her chest to form a V-sit position. She extends her legs straight up towards the ceiling, keeping them together before lowering her legs down towards the ground, stopping just before they touch the floor. Dijk holds for a moment and then lifts her legs back up to the starting V-sit position.

Bear Dumbbell Taps (12 reps)

In the final exercise demonstration Dijk starts in a plank position with her wrists aligned under her shoulders and her knees bent at a 90-degree angle, hovering a few inches off the ground. A dumbbell is placed upright under her chin, a water bottle could be uses her instead. She lifts her right hand off the ground and taps the top of the dumbbell. Then Dijk returns her hand to the starting position before repeating the movement with her left side. Alternate between your hands for 12 reps.

Why should you strengthen your core?

a woman performing a V-Sit

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Core exercises such as Lateral V Sits, Pike Leg Lifts, Extended V-Sit Lowers, and Bear Plank Dumbbell Taps target the major muscles of the core, including the rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abdominis, and hip flexors.

If you consistently engage these muscles in your workouts, you can expect to stimulate muscle growth and development, leading to increased core strength and definition over time.

However, when you're trying to build any muscle group, getting results require consistency and something called progressive overload. Regularly engaging in core-focused workouts and gradually increasing the intensity and difficulty of exercises over time will create the stimulus necessary for muscle growth and definition. 

Just remember, all bodies are different and some will display results more noticeably than others. Other factors also come into play such as levels of body fat and dietary habits. It's worth consulting a personal trainer to help tailor a safe and sustainable plan tailored to your goals and needs.

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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.