When it comes to ab training, you would be making mistake if you did not include dumbbell exercises into your workouts. In this video, I’m going to show you the best dumbbell exercises for abs, each based on a different training criteria. I’m going to cover the categories of strength, power, hypertrophy, metabolic training, total body, corrective exercise and a miscellaneous movement that needs to find it’s way into your routine.
We start with strength. Here it is worth noting that often times, any lower ab exercise (or movement that requires you to lift your legs) is going to be challenging enough and create overload. This is because the weight of the legs provides enough external resistance to bring down the rep counts and ramp up the intensity. That said, there is a big difference in our ab strength levels when moving from the top down and bottom up. For that reason I included two different weighted ab exercises to cover each.
The first is the single arm Otis-Up. This is a no-momentum movement that requires you get your back off the floor without the assistance of your legs or feet pushing into the ground. Get to a high sitting position and slowly lower yourself back to the ground. From the opposite end of the kinetic chain we can do the weighted Dragon Thrust. This involves placing a dumbbell between your feet and lifting the pelvis off the ground to engage the lower abs. This may be too difficult for some beginners but it does provide an option for those that are ready for it.
Next, we move onto power. This involves not just moving a weight but being able to do so quickly and explosively. The best movement for this is the dumbbell twisting toe taps. This upper and lower body timed movement allows for you to preload the abs by placing them on a rotational stretch on every repetition. The kick of the leg on the opposite side gets the body to move in it’s preferred cross pattern and allows the stored elastic energy of the core to do it’s job on resisting and creating rotation.
For hypertrophy we want to be sure to include an ab exercise that allows for a stretch to be placed on the abdominal muscles. Given that most ab exercises are done on the floor, the ability to extend beyond neutral is something that isn’t possible. That’s why the introduction of a physioball as shown here is so valuable. You can stretch the abs over the ball and get an eccentric overload when performed with a dumbbell in hand. Slowly crunch up on each rep to ensure a good, purposeful contraction and optimal ab development.
Next is the metabolic training category. While some have concerns about accumulating a lot of reps or time flexing and extending the spine (I am actually not one of them if the abs are trained properly and the stability of the supporting core musculature is maintained), this would allow for both without worry. The Rock the Boat and the Hollow Rock are isometric challenges for the core and involve maintaining stability rather than dynamic contraction. Less strain but still maintain all the benefits of the burn inducing metabolic overload that has been shown beneficial to development.
CORRECTIVE, TOTAL BODY, & MISC.
Other categories covered here are the total body ab exercise, corrective ab exercise and a miscellaneous option that hits the neighboring muscles of the abdominal region especially well. All of these exercises are going to be effective for their intended purpose and make for a super effective dumbbell workout routine for abs if you choose to do them together.
If you are looking for a complete ab workout that guides you through every day in just minutes of training, be sure to check out the Google Play Store and App Store for the “6 Pack Promise” app by ATHLEAN-X. If you are looking for a complete training program that trains all of the muscles of your body to be ripped, athletic and strong, be sure to head to the link below and check out the A-X program that is best suited to your current goals.
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Jeff Cavaliere M.S.P.T, CSCS
Jeff Cavaliere is a Physical Therapist, Strength Coach and creator of the ATHLEAN-X Training Programs and ATHLEAN-Rx Supplements. He has a Masters in Physical Therapy (MSPT) and has worked as Head Physical Therapist for the New York Mets, as well as training many elite professional athletes in Major League Baseball, NFL, MMA and professional wrestling. His programs produce “next level” achievements in muscle size, strength and performance for professional athletes and anyone looking to build a muscular athletic physique.