We all know that a strong core is vital to any workout routine, don’t we?
Well, strengthening your core helps to develop the muscles in your lower back, abdominal, and pelvis. This also comes with many benefits; you’ll be more toned to improve your overall appearance, plus more stability, which aids with function and movement. Let’s also not forget the improved balance, coordination, and posture.
A great way to work out your core and increase stability is by incorporating dumbbell exercises into your routine as these build weighted ab exercises into your practice.
Another good thing about these dumbbell exercises is that you can do them anywhere, at home, at the gym, or even at your office on your lunch break. They’re perfect for a short and sweaty workout or build them into a longer routine to get your heart racing, and they’ll be building your core strength in no time.
If you’re struggling with ab workout ideas, then read on for our ultimate dumbbell workout; your core will get an intense workout with a selection of exercises designed to target your obliques, upper and lower abs, and lower back – just using a set of dumbbells!
Why do we need a strong core?
As we mentioned above, a strong core is an essential part of a healthy body; without it, you’d just flop in half. Your core muscles support your spine, stabilize your body and structure, and promote proper posture.
Without realizing it, you rely on your core for all movements, from twisting to the side, reaching above your head, and moving heavy objects. Plus, you utilize these muscles when sitting down and standing up.
Building a healthy and strong core can prevent and relieve lower back pain, build muscle mass, and improve your flexibility.
The importance of a full body workout
As well as ab exercises, you want to work out your whole body. And a balanced fitness routine must include cardio, flexibility, balance exercises, and strength training.
Doing a full body workout not only promotes strength, toning, and flexibility in your whole body but also prevents you from getting bored or not challenging yourself enough.
Are you in need of professional help?
If you’re a fitness newbie, or perhaps you’re recovering from an injury, or living with a health condition. Either way, you may want to consult the help of a professional like a personal trainer to create your workouts for you. Or even to help you to level up your current schedule.
A personal trainer or a fitness pro can assess your current fitness level, needs, and goals to create a personal plan. Additionally, they’ll keep you safe by teaching you the correct form and technique and how to build on your lifts and progressively gains. In addition, they can give you motivation and feedback that can help you progress and modify your routine, if needed.
What weight is right for you?
You should choose a dumbbell weight based on your strength level, begin with a low weight, for example, 5 pounds, and complete a few reps of an exercise. Increase the weight by 2.5 pounds until you get to a challenging but not impossible weight.
You want to choose a weight that’s aligned with your goals, so generally:
- For strength training, choose a suitable weight that allows you to do 1-6 reps.
- If you’re looking to build muscle, choose weights that allow you to perform between 8-12 repetitions.
- For training muscle endurance, choose a weight that allows you to lift at least 15 reps.
However, with that said, let’s look into some essential dumbbell exercises to include in your next workout, as well as their benefits and how to do them.
Warmup, warmup, warmup
Before you get into any exercise, start with a gentle warm-up of around 3-5 minutes. This could be a quick walk on a treadmill, using a cross-trainer, or a rowing machine, or you could follow the short circuit below:
- 30 seconds of jogging on the spot
- 30 seconds of jumping jacks
- 30 seconds of high knees
- 30 seconds of butt kicks
- Rest for 20-30 seconds and repeat
The best dumbbell exercises for your core
For each exercise, complete 1-3 sets, each consisting of 8-15 reps. If you’re new to training or recovering from an injury, start low and work your way up. If you’re unfamiliar with weights, start by doing a few reps of each exercise without any weight. Once you’ve nailed the form, begin by adding a lightweight and then gradually increase the load.
- Begin by sitting on the ground with your legs stretched out ahead of you
- Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor
- Hold a dumbbell in front of your chest, and slowly start to hinge at your hips, brace your core, and lean slightly back with your upper body, slowly twisting your upper body to the right.
- Return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side
- Begin by lying on the floor with your knees bent and pressed to the ground
- Hold the dumbbell close to your chest with both hands
- Use your upper abs to lift your shoulders and torso off the floor and towards your knees
- Gently lower back down to the starting position
- Start in a standing position and hold the top of a dumbbell in both hands
- Hinge at your hips, bending your knees slightly as you swing the weight between your legs
- Using your hips, thrust the weight up to shoulder height
- Slowly lower the weight to the starting position
Side plank raise
- Start by lying on your left side with your legs extended
- Leaning on your left forearm for support, stack your feet and place a dumbbell on your right hip
- Lift your hips and legs as high off the ground as possible
- Hold this position for a few seconds before slowly returning to the starting position. And then repeat on the right side.
- Sit with your legs stretched out in front of you and hold a dumbbell in front of you
- Begin to slowly lift your feet off the floor and keep your core engaged as you twist to the right
- Slowly return to the center before repeating on the opposite side
Alternating overhead press
- Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart
- And holding a dumbbell in each hand, bending your elbows so your hands are at shoulder height with your palms facing forward
- Straighten your left arm to raise the weight above your head, engaging your core and keeping your lower back straight
- Slowly lower your arm to the starting position, and then repeat with your right arm
Squat to overhead press
- Start in a standing position, holding two dumbbells towards your chest with your palms facing your body
- Throw your hips back like you’re going to sit down and lower into a squat
- Stand up straight, and at the same time, extend your arms above your head with your palms facing away from your body.
- Return to the starting position.
Long arm dumbbell crunch
- Start lying flat on your back with your knees bent and press the soles of your feet into the ground
- Using both hands, hold a dumbbell behind your head
- Engage your core and lift the weight above your head as you do a sit-up
- Slowly lower back to the starting position.
- Start by lying on your back with a dumbbell held between your ankles
- Lift your legs to a 45-degree angle, clenching the weight
- Slowly lower your legs back to the starting position.
Standing weighted twist
- Begin in a standing position, holding a dumbbell in at your chest
- Rotate your torso to the right
- Return to the center
- Rotate to the left
Also Read: The ultimate exercises for bigger traps
Lying overhead reach
- Lie down on your back and hold a dumbbell in each hand over your chest
- Your knees should be above your hips with your calves parallel to the floor (so your legs are creating a 90-degree angle)
- Next, gently lower your arms to the floor behind your head and pause for a few seconds
- Slowly return your arms to the starting position
So, there it is, the ultimate dumbbell workout for your core. It’s guaranteed to strengthen and stabilize your abs and lower back in no time!
Top tips for a toned stomach
- Follow a healthy, balanced diet that includes fiber, protein, and probiotics
- Try your best to get at least 7 hours of high-quality sleep every night
- Steer clear of sugary drinks such as fruit juice, soda, and alcohol
- Drink water and loads of it
- When it comes to hot beverages, stick to unsweetened tea and coffee
- Make sure to balance your workout routine with activities that help you to relax and unwind
What else can you do to build a strong core?
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