13 Exercises with Dumbbells to Strengthen Your Abdomen

A strong abdomen not only looks good aesthetically, but also allows you to better direct your power in other activities. Find out how to train it with 13 exercises with dumbbells.
13 Exercises with Dumbbells to Strengthen Your Abdomen
Leonardo Biolatto

Reviewed and approved by the doctor Leonardo Biolatto.

Written by Editorial Team

Last update: 15 December, 2023

Exercises with dumbbells are ideal for increasing the weight load when your goal is to strengthen the abdomen. While strong, defined abs depend, to a large extent, on maintaining a proper diet and a low body fat percentage, training is also key.

In fact, working this area of the body is crucial to reduce the risk of back injuries, correct body posture, and better redirect strength into other exercises. That way, you have to make sure to involve not only the rectus abdominis, but also all the muscles that make up the core.

To do this, it’s a good idea to go beyond the classic abdominal exercises and opt for comprehensive exercises that also cover the internal and external obliques, the pelvic floor, the diaphragm, and the muscles of the spine. In this article, we’lll share 13 options that, by using dumbbells, will give an extra boost to your six-pack.

1. Dumbbell side planka

One of the best exercises with dumbbells to strengthen your abdomen is the side plank. Because of the posture involved, it’s ideal for working the obliques, rectus abdominis, and transverse abdominis.

It also involves the serratus anterior, deltoids, trapezius, gluteus Maximus, and hip flexors. Therefore, in addition to contributing to a strong and toned abdomen, it improves stability, balance, and coordination skills.


Plancha lateral con mancuerna
The dumbbell side plank is a comprehensive exercise that strengthens the abdomen and the entire core.

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How to do it?

  1. To begin, lie on your left side on the mat.
  2. Place your feet on top of each other and place your left elbow just below your shoulder.
  3. Rest your forearm and palm against the floor.
  4. With your free arm, hold the dumbbell.
  5. Now, lift your hips off the floor and raise the arm holding the dumbbell.
  6. Inhale and tighten your core, gluteal, and arm muscles.
  7. Try to hold for 10 to 15 seconds; when you gain endurance, you can hold longer.
  8. Lower your hips to the floor, switch sides, and repeat.
If you are not yet strong enough and you do not get this complete variation, perform the exercise on your knees and not on your feet to maintain your balance.

2. Exercises with dumbells: Dumbbell Russian Twists

Russian twists are popular in CrossFit routines because of their benefits for strengthening the entire core. Of course, you can practice them regardless of your training focus. You’ll be strengthening the rectus abdominis and the internal and external obliques of the abdomen.

Giros rusos con mancuerna
Although the main focus of Russian twists is the obliques, they also work the rectus abdominis, lumbars, and hip flexors.

How to do them?

  1. Sit on the mat, bend your knees, and lift your feet slightly. If you are still in beginner mode, you can leave your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Hold the dumbbell with both hands in front of your chest.
  3. Then, tilt your upper body back slightly and rotate the dumbbell from side to side. This is one repetition.

Make sure your movements are controlled to maintain balance. Perform 20 reps.

3. Planks with unilateral rowing

The plank with unilateral rowing is one of the exercises with dumbbells that allow you to fully strengthen the muscles of the abdomen and, in turn, those of the back. However, try to focus more on the correct execution of the movement than on the amount of weight.

Plancha con remo unilateral
If you want a strong back and a toned abdomen, include this exercise in your routine.

How to do it?

  1. Grab some light dumbbells and get into the classic plank position, arms outstretched.
  2. Bring one of the dumbbells to the side of your chest, bending your elbow.
  3. Return to the starting position and repeat the movement with the opposite arm.
  4. Perform 10 to 12 repetitions, alternating right and left.

4. Plank with rotation

Another plank variation that you can include in your workout to strengthen the abdomen and the entire core is the plank with rotation. It involves a circular movement from the extended plank position that maximizes work on the obliques.

Plancha rotación
The plank with rotation is one of the full-body exercises that you can include in your workout routine.

How to do it?

  • Start by getting into a plank position on the mat, with your arms outstretched.
  • Support yourself with one hand and, with the other, hold the dumbbell. At a more advanced level, the support hand can also hold a dumbbell.
  • Make sure your body is aligned, with your hips high.
  • From this position, raise the arm holding the dumbbell toward the ceiling.
  • Then, lower the arm in a circular motion, bringing it in under your chest, without touching the floor.
  • Perform 10 to 12 repetitions on each side.

5. V-Abdominal crunches

V-Abdominal crunches, also known in the fitness world as V-ups, are ideal for increasing the strength of the upper and lower abdominal muscles. Incidentally, they also help strengthen the lower back. For extra intensity, in this case, add dumbbells.

Abdominales en V, uno de los mejores ejercicios con mancuernas para fortalecer el abdomen
The movement of the V-ups should be controlled to keep the body stable and work isometrically.

How to do them?

  1. Lie on your back on a mat or exercise mat.
  2. Stretch out your arms and hold light dumbbells in each hand.
  3. Then, slowly raise your legs and back to form a V-shape with your body. At the same time, hold your arms in a static position.
  4. Carefully lower back down and perform 10 to 15 repetitions.

6. Exercises with dumbells: Lift yourself up from the floor and squat

This is one of the exercises with dumbbells that will test your fitness, while helping you work the abdomen, legs, and buttocks. It’s more dynamic than the previous exercises, so it requires more energy.

Del suelo a arriba y en cuclillas
This dynamic exercise will take your workout to another level and add a cardiovascular aspect to the routine.

How to do it?

  1. First, you lie on the floor, knees bent, hands above your head, holding light dumbbells.
  2. Lift the weight overhead and push yourself up into a squat, holding the dumbbells out in front of you.
  3. Lower in slow motion and do it again.
  4. Complete 8 to 10 repetitions.

7. Dumbbell Superman

The Superman exercise involves a simultaneous movement of the arms and legs, which also activates the abdominal muscles to maintain posture. This exercise is ideal for strengthening core muscles and decreasing back tension.

Superman con mancuerna
In addition to strengthening the abdomen, this exercise works the lower back muscles.

How to do it?

  1. Lie on your stomach with your arms above your head (holding light dumbbells) and your legs extended.
  2. Tighten your abdominal muscles to give your spine more stability and immediately lift your legs and arms off the floor simultaneously.
  3. Keep your head and neck in a neutral position.
  4. Hold the raised arms and legs for 3 to 5 seconds and return to the floor.
  5. Repeat 10 to 12 times.

8. Cross V-ups with Dumbbells

Another dynamic dumbbell exercise you can do in your ab routine is the cross V-ups. Its movements involve working all the core muscles, as well as the glutes and upper body.

Los ejercicios abdominales cruzados con mancuernas son ideales para fortalecer tu abdomen
This variation of the V-ups involves more coordination, strength, and balance.

How to do it?

  1. On a mat or mat, lie on your back and lift your upper body and legs at the same time.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and now cross your right leg so that your foot meets the dumbbell in your left hand.
  3. Return in slow motion to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side.
  4. Perform 8 to 10 repetitions on each side.

9. Dumbbell trunk raises

In this variation of the trunk raises we suggest using a dumbbell to add more intensity to the exercise, while you get more stability when performing the movement.

You will be working the rectus abdominis and rectus abdominis. Also, the tensor fascia lata and the greater oblique.

Elevaciones de tronco con mancuerna
If you are a beginner, you can do this exercise with your feet flat on the floor for more stability.

How to do it?

  1. Lie on the mat with your legs bent and your hands above your head, holding the dumbbell.
  2. Lift your feet off the floor a little (or leave them supported if you are a beginner) and, at the same time, raise your trunk, keeping your arms straight.
  3. Return with a slow movement to the starting position and complete 10 to 12 repetitions.

10. Swiss ball dumbbell press

The Swiss ball dumbbell press is focused on strengthening the pectorals, shoulders, and triceps. Secondarily, it involves the abdominal muscles, which are responsible for maintaining stability throughout the exercise.

Press con mancuernas en pelota suiza
While strengthening the lower body muscles, this exercise activates the core.

How to do it?

  1. Take a dumbbell in each hand, sit on the ball, and walk your feet forward until only your upper back is resting on the ball.
  2. The weights should be at the sides of your chest, so that your elbows are at about a 90° angle.
  3. From there, extend your arms upward with your palms facing each other.
  4. Inhale and lower your arms until the dumbbells are parallel to the floor again. Inhale and exhale as you tighten your abdomen with each movement.
  5. Perform 10 to 12 repetitions.

11. Abdominal cruches

One of the classic exercises to strengthen the abdomen is the crunch. In this case, we share with you a dumbbell variation. Its practice allows you to work the rectus abdominis and, secondarily, the obliques.

El crunch es uno de los ejercicios clásicos para fortalecer el abdomen
Crunches are short crunches that focus on working the rectus abdominis.

How to do it?

  1. Lie on the mat on your back with your knees bent.
  2. Grab a dumbbell with both hands above your chest and slightly raise your trunk.
  3. Return to the floor with a slow movement.
  4. Come back up and perform 15 to 20 repetitions.

12. Plank rowing leg raise

This variation of plank rowing requires more coordination and balance. Your abdominal muscles, as well as your back muscles, will be fully engaged to give your body the necessary stability. In addition, you’ll work your lats and glutes.

Remo en plancha elevando pierna
Ideal for a full-body routine, this exercise helps strengthen your abs, glutes, and back.

How to do it?

  1. Get into a plank position with your arms extended and hold a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Bend one of your arms until the dumbbell is to the side of your chest; simultaneously, raise the leg on the opposite side as far as you can.
  3. Perform a controlled movement, return to the starting position, and repeat on the opposite side.
  4. Alternate right and left and complete 10 to 12 repetitions.

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13. Dumbbell burpees

Burpees are one of the most complete exercises to strengthen the abdomen. Meanwhile, the dumbbell variant adds more intensity and resistance. Through its practice, you make a comprehensive work of all muscle groups, because you cover all the core, upper body, lower back and lower body.

This is one of the most recommended activities to increase calorie burning and improve physical fitness.

How to do them?

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Next, lower yourself into a deep step and place the dumbbells on the floor. Without releasing them, jump backward into a plank position.
  3. Once your body is extended, perform a push-up before jumping forward again.
  4. Lift yourself back to the starting position, holding the weights.
  5. Do 8 to 10 repetitions.

What should you keep in mind for your dumbbell ab workout?

Just like the other muscle groups in the body, the abdominals need progression in training to become stronger and more defined. In this sense, a good option to get out of conventional routines is to do exercises with dumbbells; by adding weight, you help to achieve more strength.

Anyway, keep in mind that abs alone are not enough to lose abdominal fat or get a marked belly. You need a complete training program that builds and strengthens all muscles in a balanced way, not just focusing on one area.

In addition to this, diet and body fat level play a key role. Even if you have a strong abdomen, muscle tone will not be noticeable if you accumulate fat. Therefore, if you want to define or tone, both the routine and diet should be adjusted towards your goal.

Can you do abdominal exercises every day?

The frequency with which you perform these exercises with dumbbells for the abdomen depends on the type of training you want to perform. However, you can take into account the rule that you usually apply with other muscles.

For example, if you work your legs twice a week, with an interval of two or three days of rest in between, you can do the same with your abs. The advantage? You don’t need to separate abdominal work from other body parts; that is, you can combine leg and ab days or upper body and ab days.

The frequency for performing them, as well as the repetitions or the execution time, depends on your objectives. They may vary depending on your goal: to burn fat, achieve hypertrophy, increase flexibility, or increase strength.

Examples of abdominal training with dumbbells in one routine

  • Option 1: lateral plank with dumbbells (10 per side), Russian twists (20 reps total) and dumbbell trunk raises (12 to 15 reps).
  • Option 2: abdominal crunch (20 reps), floor up and squat (10 to 12 reps), dumbbell Superman (12 to 15 reps) and burpees (10 reps).
  • Option 3: V crunches (10 to 15 reps), plank with rotation (10 per side), abdominal crunch (20 reps) and dumbbell Swiss ball press (12 reps).

The idea is to perform 3 to 4 sets of each option. You can alternate these workouts for a month; once your body adapts, aim for progressive overload, either by adding reps or adding weight with heavier dumbbells.

Note that you can also include these dumbbell exercises in training approaches such as Tabata, HIIT, and EMOM.

Include ab dumbbell exercises in your workout routine

When it comes to working the abdomen and strengthening the core, dumbbell exercises are a good option. The additional weight helps to generate a better stimulus in the muscles of the area, which will be reflected in both strength and endurance and definition.

Of course, it should be clear that these are only a complement to the training. You need a program that covers all muscle groups and is tailored to your individual needs or goals. For best results, try to design your routines with the help of a trainer.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.