Many of us choose some of the same basic exercises—crackles, anybody ? – and end up doing them again and again. But a dumbbell workout can shake things up, as it challenges you to incorporate some surprising core moves that you might not necessarily consider ab exercises.
There are two main ways to work your abs: through movement and through anti-movement, Sivan Fagan, CPT, owner of Strong with Sivan in Baltimore, tells SELF. Traditional ab work uses movement to challenge your core, often through flexion, such as with crunches. But anti-movement can also be a very effective way to work your core.
With these types of abdominal exercises, you train your core to resist movement, which builds core stability, she says. You do this by anti-flexion, where your spine resists bending forward under load (as with a deadlift), anti-extension, where you resist extending your lumbar spine to prevent your lower from back to hyperextend (as with a plank), anti-lateral flexion, where you resist lateral flexion (like with a suitcase) and anti-rotation, where your core resists twisting (like with a one leg deadlift).
During anti-movement abdominal exercises box Similar to traditional abdominal exercises – like the plank does – many of them also double as upper and lower body exercises. And using dumbbells for added resistance can help kick them up a notch.
These exercises will challenge your entire core, which is important to help you lift more weight in your workout and function better in everyday life, whether you’re rolling sideways to pick something up or you lift a heavy box above your head. Additionally, a strong core can help prevent and reduce lower back pain.
Since these dumbbell moves are quite varied, try picking three or four that you like to string together in a circuit for a simple dumbbell workout. Aim to do 10 to 12 repetitions of each movement and repeat the circuit three times. You can also choose one or two to swap for a similar exercise you already do but no longer feel excited about.
The demonstration of the movements below is Amanda Wheeler (GIF 1, 4 & 7), a certified strength and conditioning specialist and co-founder of Forming strength; Cookie Janee (GIF 2 and 5), background investigator and specialist in security forces in the Air Force Reserve; Rachel Dennis (GIF 3 & 6), a weightlifter who competes with USA Powerlifting and holds multiple New York State powerlifting records; Nathalie Huerta (GIFs 8 and 10), coach at The Queer Gym in Oakland, California; Erica Jasmine Moon (GIF 9 & 11), a personal trainer and graduate student obtaining a license as a marriage and family therapist; and Shauna Harrison(GIF 12); a Bay Area-based trainer, yogi, public health scholar, advocate and journalist for me.