15-minutes, one dumbbell, and a workout to build abs and strengthen your core

This short abs and weight routine is an excellent alternative to sit-ups if you want to tone and define your core

Woman trains her core muscles with a kettlebell
(Image credit: Getty)

Forget about sit-ups and crunches if you loathe traditional ab workouts and instead try training your core a little differently with just a dumbbell. This weighted ab routine will target multiple muscles across your core, including your abdominal muscles.

Trying to sculpt your core or build a six-pack won't happen just by completing some of the best workouts for abs regularly. It's more to do with learning how to lower body fat and building up strength in this area. The weight lifting style ab circuit below is a good example of how to begin building and toning core muscle using one of the best adjustable dumbbells.

Online workout instructor, Pamela Reif (opens in new tab), created this weighted ab workout and demonstrates on her YouTube channel how to perform each exercise. A real bonus of this ab and core routine is that it requires minimal equipment - a dumbbell and something stable to lean against - and you don't need to move around a lot during it. So it's ideal for those who like to work out at home but maybe have limited space, or for people who train at a busy gym where it's hard to move around stations quickly.

The workout features various different exercises, some of the moves involve lifting the weight while others will just use your body weight as you challenge the resilience of your core muscles.

Watch Pamela Reif's 15-Minute Dumbbell Abs Routine

Unlike some ab workouts where there are no breaks factored in at all like the famous Daisy Keech ab workout that we tried out, you'll be glad to hear Reif does allow breaks in her 15-minute routine. However, you won't get to rest in between every exercise. You will complete a collection of moves for 30 seconds each and then get some 20 second rests thrown into the mix.

The variety of exercises in this workout will engage the core as you progress through the circuit and work with the weight. Reif says it will also target the side abs and the waistline as she has added in lots of twisting-based exercises.

She says that she likes to use both bodyweight and equipment weight to strengthen and grow her muscles. Reif explained why this gets better results, "You basically handle more weight during the exercise, than you usually carry around on your body all day. 

"That’s why your body needs to adapt and create 'extra' muscle fibers, that you usually don’t need. If you stop seeing progress with bodyweight training, you should consider getting some dumbbells."

As we mentioned before, dropping body fat will help you gain and notice definition across your abdominal muscles quicker. If you have tried eating less but find yourself feeling hungry all the time or weak in your workouts it's worthwhile considering adding more protein into your diet. 

In a study published in the Nutrition and Metabolism (opens in new tab) journal, researchers discovered that consuming 20 grams of protein every three hours, four times per day was a more efficient way of helping men build lean body mass over eating small portions of it more often or bigger amounts less often. Once you read up more on how to use protein powder to lose weight you can invest in one of the best protein powders for weight loss to make increasing your daily intake easier.

Jessica is Staff Writer at Fit&Well. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition. 


When she isn't writing up news and features for Fit&Well covering topics ranging from muscle building, to yoga, to female health and so on, she will be outdoors somewhere, testing out the latest fitness equipment and accessories to help others find top products for their own fitness journeys. Her testing pairs up nicely with her love for running. She recently branched out to running 10Ks and is trying to improve her time before moving on to larger races. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen. She shares all of this on her running Instagram account @jessrunshere which she uses for accountability and for connecting with like-minded fitness lovers.