Shred Up Your Core By Adding Dumbbells to Your Abs Workout

Brett Williams
Photo credit: Charlee Atkins/Jorge Q
Photo credit: Charlee Atkins/Jorge Q

From Men's Health

Photo credit: Men's Health/Eric Rosati
Photo credit: Men's Health/Eric Rosati

To really shred your six-pack, you'll need more resistance than just your body weight.

Your abs work just like any other muscle group. If you train them with a load, they'll be able to grow more and adapt to be even stronger than unloaded movements. You can try planks with plates on your back, or work with medicine balls—or, even more simply, grabbing a dumbbell off the rack.

That minimal equipment setup makes training at home or outside super easy, which is especially enticing during the summer season when you might be traveling or short on time to get to the gym. That's how trainer Charlee Atkins, C.S.C.S. sells this style of ab workouts to her clients, even when they aren't quite sure that the moves they're performing will translate to a shredded core.

"People are obsessed with core exercises," Atkins says. "What most don’t realize is that these “core” exercises (otherwise known as anti-rotation, anti-extension, and stabilizing exercises in the training community) are variations of exercises we use when training the lower and upper bodies. For example, a renegade row is often thought of as an upper body exercise, but the core is doing most of the work stabilizing the body to keep it in the plank position."

This series of exercises from Atkins will target the core (and a lot of other muscles), and you can do it just about anywhere you can lug a dumbbell. If you struggle with the load, you can adjust and perform any of these exercises without weights. If you want to try these out at home and need a set of dumbbells, check out this adjustable option from Bowflex.

Complete each exercise for 40 seconds, with 10 seconds recovery.

  • Renegade Row

  • Alternating Single-Leg Crunch

  • Side Plank and Extension

  • Jack Knife

  • Crouch Back and Row

  • Dead Bug Variation

  • Down Dog and Row

Take on this series of dumbbell core moves for 3 to 5 rounds. Want to learn more moves from Atkins? Check out our series full of her workout tips, Try Her Move.

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