Develop core strength and build muscle with this eight-move dumbbell workout

All you need is a set of dumbbells to work your upper body and build a stronger core

Person exercising with dumbbells
(Image credit: Getty Images)

You might imagine that you need to do hours of sit-ups and crunches to work your abs and build core strength. These exercises have their place, but you can develop your core and upper body muscle with this eight-move dumbbell routine.

To get started, all you'll need is a set of the best adjustable dumbbells. These are great for working at home as they combine several weights into one, and you can quickly change the load mid-workout.

The secret to this routine, developed by personal trainer Bradley Simmonds (opens in new tab), is the combination of weights and multi-muscle compound exercises, like those favored by Chris Hemsworth's trainer.

You'll do each of the eight exercises for 10-20 repetitions and aim to complete four rounds in total. Simmonds uses a weight plate for a few of the moves, but if you don't have access to one, you can switch this out for a dumbbell.

Getting the technique right is essential if you want to get the most from your training and avoid injury. Helpfully, Simmonds has posted short tutorials for all of the exercises, so you can practice your form before you get started.

Watch Bradley Simmonds' eight-move dumbbell workout

A post shared by bradleysimmonds (@bradleysimmonds) (opens in new tab)

A photo posted by on

The routine builds upper body strength, but it's also a varied way to train your abs and develop a stronger core. Your core, a section of mid-body muscle including your rectus abdominis (the six-pack ab muscle), plays a crucial role in your body. 

It helps promote circulation, aids stability, and improves your overall workout performance, so many people look into how to build a stronger core and include several core strengthening exercises in their workout routine. If you want to try Simmonds' routine, we've listed all the moves you need below.

  • Overhead press x12
  • Bent over rows x12
  • Bicep curls x20
  • Weighted commandos x10
  • Hollow hold x30 seconds
  • Weighted sit-up x10
  • Weighted knee crunch x10
  • Weighted twists x20

These are effective ways to train your mid-body, but Simmonds' routine uses exercises that work multiple muscles simultaneously. These are known as compound exercises, and they help you build strength in several areas at once.

If you enjoy exercising with weights and training this way, it's worth investing in one of the best kettlebells and learning how to do kettlebell swings. This compound exercise works your whole body, boosts your metabolism, and helps build core strength.

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.