According to celeb trainer Gunnar Peterson, the secret to awesome abs is “working consistently, working in different planes of motion, and adding weights to your abdominal work.” Take this advice to heart — here are a handful of exercises that put these principles into action using a set of dumbbells or a medicine ball. Incorporate a few of these exercises into your next workout to really kick your abs into action.
This dynamic exercise works the obliques and upper abs while keeping your heart rate up. Although this is a full-body move, it doesn’t require a lot of space, so you can do it almost anywhere. Use a five- to 10-pound dumbbell or a medicine ball.
- Squat, and twist left to hold the dumbbell on the outside of your left leg.
- Exhale, and lift the weight diagonally across your body, ending twisted to the right with the dumbbell above your head. Pivot on your left foot as needed.
- The move is a bit percussive, so focus on the rotation initiating in your torso.
- Control the weight back up to the starting position to complete one rep.
- Remember you are moving with force but also control. Don’t give into the momentum of swinging the weight around. Do three sets of 15 reps on each side.
In yoga, Camel Pose increases the flexibility in your spine, but this challenging variation using a weight strengthens your abs while helping to create a lovely, lean torso. Besides working the entire abdominal wall, this move gives the quads an active stretch to boot!
- Start on your knees. If this hurts your knees, fold up a mat or towel and kneel on that for a little cushioning. Your thighs should be parallel.
- Hold a five- to eight-pound dumbbell with both hands in front of your chest.
- Take a breath in, and as you exhale, lean back, squeezing your glutes, and use your abs to keep your spine straight. As you inhale, return your torso back to the starting position.
- Repeat for a total of 15 times. Complete a total of three sets.
Some call this move the flashlight, and we love it for the intense focus on the abs. Straighten your arms to increase the difficulty. Once you master the move, try speeding up.
- Stand with your knees slightly soft, holding a dumbbell at chest level.
- Keep your pelvis stable as you rotate your ribcage right and left, to complete one rep. Be sure to keep your abs pulled toward your spine as you twist from side to side.
- Do three sets of 30 reps each.
Seated Russian Twist
This classic move targets your obliques, and adding a dumbbell or medicine ball increases the challenge.
- Holding a dumbbell in both hands, sit on the ground with your knees bent and your heels about a foot from your butt.
- Lean slightly back without rounding your spine at all. It is really important, and difficult, to keep your back straight.
- Pull your navel to your spine, and twist slowly to the left, bringing the weight to your left side. The movement is not large and comes from the ribs rotating, not from your arms swinging. Inhale through center, and rotate to the right. This completes one rep.
- Do 16 full rotations.
You can also make the move more advanced by lifting your feet three or four inches off the floor, as pictured.
Plank and Rotate
Twisting in a plank position fires up the core and works those love handles.
- Begin in a plank position holding a five-pound dumbbell in each hand, keeping your wrists stiff to protect the joints. Open your feet a little wider than hip distance.
- Lift your left hand to the ceiling, twisting through your entire torso — keep the motion smooth and controlled. Your pelvis will rotate, but keep it level without letting it raise or drop.
- Bring your left hand back to the floor, and repeat this action on the other side to complete one rep.
- Do 10-15 reps to complete a set.