This quick but intense ab workout targets every muscle in your core to build strong, defined abdominal muscles. No crunches; instead, we’re using unilateral training and weights to build muscle in the upper abs, lower abs, obliques, low back and glutes. These are the 5 BEST Weighted Ab Exercises to tone and define your midsection!
In my opinion, the best abdominal exercises train your core to do what it is INTENDED to do — stabilize your torso as your limbs move away from your body.
We spend our days bending, twisting and reaching. These functional ab exercises are designed to mimic everyday movements, strengthening your core so it can support your body through these daily movements.
By adding a dumbbell, we’re strength training our abdominal muscles with weights to increase muscle mass and achieve the ‘toned’ look most people strive for in the midsection.
These are the type of ab exercises that mimic the way you use your core in real, every-day life. This dumbbell ab workout is functional training for your abs, back, hips, glutes, and pelvic floor.
Feel Ab Workouts in Your Thighs or Hip Flexors? Get my favorite instructor cues to ACTUALLY engage your core during ab workouts in this post: 10-Minute Lower Abs.
Toning the rectus abdominis (aka the six-pack abs) and lower abs tend to be a common training goal. While spot reduction doesn’t work (The American Council On Exercise), strengthening the deep, transverse abdominal core muscles has many benefits.
Remember, the best way to ‘get abs’ isn’t to do 1000’s of crunches! Rather, it’s to include core strengthening exercises into a well rounded fitness routine.
5 Weighted Ab Exercises (10-Minute Weighted Ab Workout)
Five weighted ab exercises to majorly sculpt and strengthen your core and add muscle definition to your midsection.
Add this quick, 10-minute weighted abs workout to your weekly workout routine 2-3 times a week to build a strong core at home.
Beginner:Use just your bodyweight or substitute a sweat towel for the single dumbbell (follow Rachel on the left in the workout video). Advanced:Single dumbbell, medium weight. I’m using a 15 lb dumbbell in this weighted ab workout video.
*These weighted ab exercises could also be performed with a small weighted plate.
Perform all single-sided moves (1, 2, 4 and 5) on the right side of the body for the first set, then on the left for the second set.
Single Leg Deadlift Dumbbell Pass + Knee Drive Pass Under
Forearm Plank Dumbbell Pass + Side Plank Toe Touch
Weighted Single Side Dead Bug
Quarter Turkish Get Up
You’ll perform each ab exercise for 40 seconds of work, which equates to around 10-12 reps per exercise.
5 Weighted Ab Exercises
1. Single Leg Deadlift Dumbbell Pass + Knee Drive Pass Under
Targets: Deep transverse abdominals, obliques, lower abs, upper abs, low back, hamstrings and glutes.
How to do a Single Leg Deadlift Dumbbell Pass and Knee Drive Pass Under:
Start standing with feet spaced hip-width apart, right leg forward, left toe popped slightly behind the right leg. Most of your weight should be in your standing right leg.
Hold a weight in your left hand, and stand tall with a flat back and neutral spine.
With your right knee bent, hinge at your hips (hip flexors), extending the left leg behind you as you balance on your right leg. Keep your hips even, square to the mat, as you press them back towards the wall behind you.
Once you’ve reached the bottom (range of motion looks different for everyone), transfer the dumbbell from your left hand, to your right hand, then back to your left hand. Side bends and wobbles are normal as you transfer the weight from side-to-side.
Then, press through your right heel to stand tall, returning to standing. As you stand, drive your left knee up, so your left thigh is parallel to the mat.
Pass the dumbbell underneath your left thigh, from left hand to right hand, and back to left hand again.
Switch sides, performing this movement on the left leg for the second set.
2. Wood Chop
Targets: The deep transverse abdomens muscles, oblique muscles, legs, hips, back and shoulders.
How to do a Staggered Woodchop:
Start standing in an athletic stance, feet shoulder width apart, soft bend in your knees, core engaged. Stagger your feet, so your left foot is slightly behind your right. Most of your weight is in your right foot.
Hold one dumbbell horizontally between your hands.
Bend your knees as you bring the dumbbell to the outside of your left knee.
Then exhale as you use your legs, hips, glutes, abs and obliques to drive the dumbbell crossbody, extending your arms up overhead on the right side. Think left knee to right shoulder.
Lower the dumbbell with control back towards your left knee. Returning to the starting position, and repeat this movement.
Switch sides, performing this movement on the right side for the second set.
3. Forearm Plank Dumbbell Pass + Side Plank Toe Touch
Targets: Upper abs, lower abs, obliques, shoulders, glutes and thighs.
Beginner:Take the forearm plank and side plank from your knees. You can also reduce the range of motion by bending the knee you’re pulling towards your hand for the toe touch.
How to do a Forearm Plank Dumbbell Pass + Side Plank Toe Touch:
Start in a forearm plank position, arms stacked horizontally beneath your shoulders, core engaged, one long line from your head through your heels. Place your dumbbell on the right side of your body, outside of your right elbow.
With your left hand, reach underneath your body to grab the dumbbell and pull it across the mat. Stay in plank position holding hips square to the mat as you slide the dumbbell across the mat; dumbbell ending outside of your left elbow.
Keep your right forearm planted on the mat as you open up to the left into a side plank position.
Hold side plank as you pull your left toes towards your midline, left leg straight, meeting your left hand.
Return your left forearm to the mat, rolling back into a forearm plank.
Then use your right hand to reach under and pull the dumbbell across the mat, back to your right elbow.
Repeat the side plank and toe tap on the right side.
4. Weighted Single Side Dead Bug
Targets: Rectus abdominis (six pack ab muscles), transverse abs (deep corset abs under the six pack ab muscles), obliques, hips, shoulders and back.
How to do a Weighted Deadbug:
Start lying on your back, core activated to press your lower back into the mat.
Lift your knees towards your chest, knees bent to form a 90 degree angle (knees stacked on top of hips), and extend your arms straight overhead. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand, palm facing in.
Contract your ab muscles as you extend your right arm overhead while simultaneously straightening your left leg. Return to the starting position.
Repeat on the right side for the entirety of the first set. Then switch sides performing on the left side (left arm, right leg) for the second set.
5. Quarter Turkish Get Up
Targets: Upper abs, lower abs, obliques, shoulders, chest and triceps.
How to do One Quarter Turkish Get-Up:
Lie on your back, holding a dumbbell in your right hand extended above your right shoulder, palm facing in. Set your gaze on the dumbbell in your right hand
Extend your left arm out at a 45 degree angle.
Bend your right leg, placing your right foot flat on the mat just outside your right hip.
Then push through your right heel and your left elbow as you squeeze your core to lift your neck, shoulders and torso off the mat. Left shoulder should be stacked over left elbow, right arm locked overhead, and gaze on your dumbbell. Chest should be facing the wall in front of you (not the ceiling).
With control, reverse the motion slowly rolling back down to the mat. Again keeping your right arm extended overhead throughout the movement.
Switch sides, holding the dumbbell in the left hand for the second set.
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