You only need 1 dumbbell and 8 moves to carve your abs from every angle

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

Even the best abs workouts can start to get a little repetitive if you do them all the time, and mixing up your training not only keeps it interesting, but also ensures you challenge your core in new ways so no muscle is left behind.

If you like to try new things, this eight-move core routine from fitness trainer Kyle Knapp is sure to be of interest. Each of the eight moves involves a twist on classic abs exercises like planks and bird-dogs — sometimes quite literally, you’ll be doing a lot of twisting in the moves to improve your rotational strength.

You need one dumbbell for the routine, or you can use a couple of different weights if you want the option of something heavier for a couple of the exercises. An adjustable dumbbell is a useful option if you do want to change the weight you’re using quickly between moves. Some of the exercises involve lying down so a yoga mat could also be handy, but it’s not essential. 

What is the 8-move dumbbell abs workout?

The eight moves you’ll be doing are all quite complicated, so it’s worth watching the video demonstrations provided by Knapp. It’s important to do each move with control, so take your time and get them right – the extra time spent under tension will only make your abs stronger.

Knapp doesn’t give a set amount of time or reps to do each move for, so you can work through them at your own pace and rest in between as required. These are challenging exercises and doing each move for just 60 seconds is going to leave your abs burning, so don’t be afraid to just do 30 seconds on each. Or you can pick out a few of your favorite exercises and incorporate them into your regular core workout.

  • Layback pass through press
  • Plank swim
  • Kneeling crossover halo
  • Single leg cross reach
  • Synced bird-dog row hold
  • Bridge reach
  • Skydiver side hold
  • Cross crunch drive

It would definitely be best to start with a light dumbbell, or even do the exercises without any weight at first, just to get used to the movements and to get more of an idea of how hard they are. Knapp makes them look very easy indeed, but he is extraordinarily fit, and it’s best to focus on getting your form right and doing the exercises with a light weight or no weight rather than struggle with a dumbbell.

Knapp says you can swap in another type of weight like a kettlebell for most of the exercises, and suggest that if you have more than one weight to hand you can use a heavier one for some exercises like the kneeling crossover halo and synced bird-dog row hold.

It’s not always easy to get an effective abs workout done in a short amount of time, but this session is certainly going to improve your core strength and even if you do each move for a minute and take short rests it will only take 10 minutes.

Since you only need one dumbbell and the moves will challenge you even without any weight, it’s a workout you can do almost anywhere as well. It’s a routine worth sticking with too, because you’ll quickly improve even if you can’t do any move for that long the first time you try it. It can also be used as a tough finisher to another workout, like this 20-minute full-body workout that also only needs one dumbbell.

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Nick Harris-fry
Senior Writer

Nick Harris-fry is an experienced health and fitness journalist, writing professionally since 2012. He spent nine years working on the Coach magazine and website before moving to the fitness team at Tom’s Guide in 2024. Nick is a keen runner and also the founder of YouTube channel The Run Testers, which specialises in reviewing running shoes, watches, headphones and other gear.

Nick ran his first marathon in 2016 after six weeks of training for a magazine feature and subsequently became obsessed with the sport. He now has PBs of 2hr 27min for the marathon and 15min 30sec for 5K, and has run 13 marathons in total, as well as a 50-mile ultramarathon.

He runs 50-80 miles a week and races regularly with his club, which gives him a lot of opportunity to test out running gear: he has tested and reviewed hundreds of pairs of running shoes, as well as fitness trackers, running watches, sports headphones, treadmills, and all manner of other kit. Nick is also a qualified Run Leader in the UK.