Build stronger abs with this 15-minute dumbbell core workout

This short routine packs 20 moves into 15 minutes, targeting your abs and strengthening your core

Man exercising with dumbbell
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Crunches and sit-ups are popular equipment-free ab exercises, but they can get repetitive. You can shake things up a bit and still get results with this short dumbbell workout; you only need 15 minutes and a bit of space. 

If you're training at home, it's worth investing in a set of the best adjustable dumbbells (opens in new tab). These customizable, compact training tools combine several dumbbells into one small package and allow you to quickly change weights mid-workout. 

Wondering which dumbbell weight to choose (opens in new tab)? Find a load that will challenge you to get through a set but won't affect your form. Then you'll be ready to take on fitness YouTuber DanielPT's (opens in new tab) 15-minute ab workout. 

There are 20 moves in this short session, so you'll exercise for 30 seconds, take a 15-second break, then start on the next move. There's a varied mixture of moves designed to target your upper and lower abdominal muscles and your side obliques for a comprehensive core strengthening workout. 

It's important to focus on your form to get the most from your training and avoid injury. You can follow DanielPT's demonstrations as you go to perfect your technique, and it's also worth taking another look at how to do a plank (opens in new tab) before starting. 

Watch DanielPT's 15-minute dumbbell ab workout

People use abs and core interchangeably, although there are differences. Your rectus abdominis six-pack ab muscle forms part of your core, a section of mid-body muscle that connects your upper and lower body. These core muscles are crucial to your stability, workout performance, and posture. 

This is why core strengthening exercises (opens in new tab) form an essential part of many routines, but DanielPT's session adds a bit of variety to keep things exciting and work several muscle areas simultaneously. So, despite only taking 15 minutes, you can still get ab-building results. 

If you want to develop visible muscle, you also need to reduce the amount of fat around your stomach. You can't burn fat from specific areas like your belly with particular exercises, so you'll need to find ways to raise your metabolism and burn energy throughout the day. That's the other reason this workout is so effective. 

Training your muscles in short bursts with minimal rests is a technique known as high-intensity resistance training (opens in new tab) (HIRT). This exercise style increases and sustains a higher heart rate than you'd get during an equivalent steady-paced routine. So you'll burn more energy during your workout and boost your metabolism for all-day fat burning. 

When you work your muscles, it causes small tears in the muscle fiber. Your body needs protein to repair these tears and grow the muscle, so it's worth adding the best protein powders for weight loss (opens in new tab) to your post-workout shake. These supplements are low in added sugar but high in protein to help you recover and promote lean muscle growth.

James Frew
Staff Writer

James is a London-based journalist and Staff Writer at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.


In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.