Using dumbbells really turns on the burn for everyday abdominal exercises. Adding even a light weight can increase the challenge on the ab muscles and take an easy or moderate workout to the next level. These exercises use the common dumbbell to effectively work each of the four abdominal muscle groups.
1. Standing Side Bend
Side bends sculpt the internal and external oblique muscles on the side of the stomach and help you attain defined, six-pack abs.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand erect with your arms hanging at your sides and a dumbbell in each hand. Slowly bend to one side until the dumbbell reaches your knee. Do not rotate your trunk. Your shoulders and chest should remain pointing forward at all times.
Hold this position for 1 to 2 seconds and then return to the starting position. After a set has been completed, repeat on the opposite side.
Windmills provide the abs with a comprehensive workout. In addition to holding a planked position, the stomach muscles are forced to control a challenging rotation.
HOW TO DO IT: While holding a dumbbell in each hand, assume a push-up position with your elbows extended and your body propped onto your toes. Your spine should remain completely straight throughout.
Shift your weight onto your left arm as you rotate to the right and lift your right arm and dumbbell in the air. When you are facing completely sideways and making a “T” with your arms, hold for 1 to 2 seconds before slowly returning to the starting position. Then, perform on the alternate side.
3. Weighted Crunch
Adding a weight to a standard crunch increases the burn on the rectus abdominis muscle in the center of the stomach.
HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your back with your knees bent. Extend your arms towards the ceiling holding a dumbbell in each hand. Lift your head and upper body in the air until the bottom of your shoulder blades clear the ground.
Your arms should remain outstretched throughout the exercise. Hold this position for 1 to 2 seconds and then lower your head and upper body back to the ground.
4. Plank Row
Planks are commonly used to strengthen the transversus abdominis muscle, which lies deep inside your abdomen. Adding a row to this position takes this exercise to the next level!
HOW TO DO IT: With a dumbbell in each hand, get into the push-up position with your elbows extended and your body propped up on your toes. Bend your right elbow and lift the right dumbbell towards your body as if rowing an oar.
As you do this, your spine should remain straight and your pelvis should not tilt. Hold this position for 1 to 2 seconds and then lower the weight to the starting position. Repeat with the opposite arm.
5. Russian Twist
This intense exercise challenges each of the four abdominal muscle groups at once . You'll quickly feel the burn as these twists fatigue your stomach muscles.
HOW TO DO IT: Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your arms extended holding a dumbbell. Lean back about 45 degrees. Then, rotate to one side keeping your elbows straight as you turn. Hold this position for 1 to 2 seconds and then slowly rotate to the opposite side.
Make sure to rotate with your trunk and not just with your shoulders.
To build abdominal strength, two to three sets of 10 repetitions of each exercise should be performed two to three times per week. Start with a 3- to 5-pound weight and focus primarily on performing the exercises in a slow, controlled manner. As they get easier, gradually increase the weight of the dumbbell.
Consult a doctor with questions or concerns prior to beginning a new routine and make sure to stop if the exercises cause pain.