Dumbbell workout to improve your ab training results

Challenge your core with this these dumbbell exercises for abs. They work mainly the “6-pack” and the oblique muscles, for ab tone and waist shaping.  For best results do the workout 3 times a week – the PDF includes a schedule for you to plan and track your workouts.

Dumbbell exercises for abs PDF printable

Info int 10 min

Needed for this workout

An exercise mat or something else to lie on that will cushion your spine – a folded quilt or blanket for example.

A set of handweights or dumbbells: If you don’t usually do abs work with weights, then start with small weights. A weight of 2-4lbs/0.5-1kg is a good starting point. As you get stronger you can increase your weights. Adjustable handweights allow you to increase your weight without having to buy a new set. The most comfortable way for you to hold the weight will depend on the size and type you use. When using both hands on one weight, it may be more comfortable to grip the ends of the weight rather than the shaft.

Safety information

This is an intermediate workout. You should be used to doing ab exercises without weights before trying it. You should also be comfortable doing crunches without supporting your head with your hands.

Please read these general safety guidelines before doing the workout

Exercise instructions

There are 6 exercises and the full set of exercises should be repeated 3 times per workout. There’s a 4 week program chart below, showing the number of reps you should do of each exercise.

Make sure that you’re not holding any tension in your neck and shoulders. For most of the exercises in this workout, the head would be supported by at least one hand when working without weights. As your hands are not free to support your head here, you need to make sure that your upper body stays relaxed.

#1 Crunches


  1. Lie on the floor, knees bent, feet about hip distance apart.
  2. Take one weight in both hands, palms facing down towards the floor.
  3. Engage your abdominal muscles and curl your spine smoothly away from the floor.  It shouldn’t be a jerky movement.
  4. Stop when your shoulder blades have left the floor and start to reverse the movement.  Again, it should be a smooth, curling movement on the way down.

#2 Russian twist

Russian twist

  1. Start by sitting with a straight back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor, about hip distance apart and holding a weight with both hands, palms facing each other, or downwards – whichever is more comfortable.
  2. Engage your abdominal muscles and lower your back towards the floor, until it is at about 45° to the floor. Hold this position.  You will feel your abs working.
  3. Maintaining the angle of your back with the floor, reach your arms from side to side, pointing the end of the weight down towards the floor.

#3 Side reach

Dumbbell exercises for abs side reach

  1. Lie on the floor with knees bent and feet about hip distance apart, a weight in your right hand with your palm facing your body.
  2. Lift your head and shoulders slightly off the floor, with your left hand supporting your head.
  3. Reach the weight towards your right foot.  Complete your reps on this side and then lower your head to the floor, change the weight to your left hand and repeat to the left.

#4 Straight leg crunches

Dumbbell exercises for abs straight leg crunches

  1. Start by lying on the floor with legs vertical and a weight in each hand, with your palms facing your legs.
  2. Curl your head and shoulders off the floor as you reach your hands towards your feet.

#5 Oblique crunch

Dumbbell exercises for abs oblique crunch

  1. Lie with your back flat on the floor, knees bent and feet lifted, as shown. Have a weight in each hand, with your palms facing in towards your body.
  2. Curl your head and right shoulder off the floor in a smooth movement as you reach your right hand towards the outside of your left knee.
  3. As you return to the floor, make sure the movement is smooth and controlled.
  4. Repeat on the other side and continue alternating side to side until you’ve done all the reps.

#6 Pulse reaches

Pulse reach

  1. The starting position is the same as for the Russian twist: sitting with your back about 45° to the floor, knees bent and feet flat on the floor, about hip distance apart and holding the weight in both hands. Your palms can either be facing inwards or downwards, whichever is more comfortable.
  2. From the start position, make small pulse movements (1-2 inches) towards your knees.

Reps chart

Core dumbell workout reps

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