This dumbbell core workout only took me 10 minutes but it put my strength to the test

Just five moves and a dumbbell helped me strengthen my abs, obliques and arms

Woman doing dumbbell halo exercise
(Image credit: Alice Porter)

I make it a priority to work on my core strength. It's essential to overall strength and fitness, and developing the upper body muscles helps me to lift heavier weights and move efficiently, as part of my regular CrossFit workouts.

As someone who works a desk job, I also spend a lot of time sitting down and often deal with lower-back pain. Building strong core muscles is one of the best things you can do if you're in the same position, as these muscles support the back and minimize the damage of constant sitting.

I came across this 10-minute core workout created by personal trainer Elise Young and decided to give it a go. It incorporates a dumbbell and five exercises that are fairly challenging. If you're a complete newcomer to fitness, you might want to try some core workouts for beginners before attempting this routine, but if (like me) you're looking for a challenge then this session should fit the bill. 

I did this workout in the gym and I used a 5KG dumbbell for a couple of the exercises and a 10KG dumbbell for the less challenging moves. You can easily do this routine at home, but we'd recommend investing in a set of the best adjustable dumbbells, so you can quickly change weights depending on the move.

Watch Elise Young's dumbbell core workout

There are five moves to master here. To complete the workout, do 45 seconds of each exercise, followed by 15 seconds of rest, then repeat this two times.

Most of the moves in this routine are functional exercises, which means they engage a range of body parts and mirror the way the body moves during everyday activities. For example, the overhead dumbbell lifts can feel a lot like putting your shopping away. 

During the exercises, it's important to actively engage your core and think about posture and form. I found myself getting lazy during certain points of this workout, slouching or leaning back when I should have been squeezing my abdominal muscles and thinking about keeping the core tight. 

Woman doing v-sits over a dumbbell.

(Image credit: Alice Porter)

When I actively engaged my core, my abs and the muscles around them were forced to work a lot harder. I started to feel the burn after only a couple of minutes exercising. 

My arms got a good workout too, thanks to the heavy dumbbells I used during the overhead press moves. And I could feel that the routine also strengthened the muscles around my hip flexors and glutes, which was noticeable during the v sit over exercises. 

It felt like a super efficient workout for me, as so many different muscles were firing up at the same time. Despite the fact it was only 15 minutes long, I felt like I'd thoroughly exercised my core muscles. 

We'd recommend tagging this one onto the end of a running session or pairing it with one of our best leg workouts, if you want to work your entire body. 

Alice Porter
Freelancer Writer

Alice Porter is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle topics including health, fitness and wellness. She is particularly interested in women's health, strength training and fitness trends and writes for publications including Stylist Magazine, Refinery29, The Independent and Glamour Magazine. Like many other people, Alice's personal interest in combining HIIT training with strength work quickly turned into a CrossFit obsession and she trains at a box in south London. When she's not throwing weights around or attempting handstand push-ups, you can probably find her on long walks in nature, buried in a book or hopping on a flight to just about anywhere it will take her.