Forget crunches — this trainer’s three-move core workout develops your abs with just a set of dumbbells

Boost your balance, ease lower back pain and strengthen your core with these dumbbell exercises

A man exercising with dumbbells
(Image credit: Getty / SrdjanPav)

For years, sit-ups have been the go-to move for stronger abs, but we think you can do better. 

So too does certified personal trainer James Stirling, who took to Instagram to share three alternative core strengthening exercises you can do at home with just a couple of dumbbells.

Stirling (better known by his online moniker of the London Fitness Guy) demonstrates the moves below and claims they're "better" than traditional moves like sit-ups and crunches. They certainly offer a refreshing break from floor-based moves. 

To turn these exercises into a comprehensive abs workout, perform them as a circuit, completing each one for 40 seconds and resting for 20 seconds between them. Repeat this sequence until you reach three total rounds to finish the session.  

Watch the London Fitness Guy's three-move abs workout

You might have spotted that Stirling uses both "abs" and "core" to describe the muscles targeted by this workout. Both are correct in this case, but the terms aren't always interchangeable as they have slightly different meanings (as our abs vs core training feature explores). 

The abs, short for abdominals, are made up of the rectus abdominis (responsible for that famous six-pack shape), the transverse abdominis (a deep muscle, which wraps around your abdomen) and the internal and external obliques (which sit on the sides of your abdomen). 

The abdominals form just one part of the core, which comprises a wider range of muscles that connect your upper and lower body. Your core includes, among other things, your hip flexors, pelvic floor and diaphragm. 

These exercises from Stirling work both your abs and other muscles in your core, and offer plenty of benefits as a result. 

Strengthening your core muscles contributes to good posture, boosts your balance and stability, and can help prevent lower back pain by taking pressure away from the lower potion of your spine, according to the Harvard Medical School

If you're looking for more ways to build core strength, why not try one of the best ab rollers? These nifty bits of kit offer another compact way to train your midsection. Or try a dedicated Pilates abs workout, if you want to go equipment free.

Harry Bullmore
Fitness Writer

Harry Bullmore is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering accessible home workouts, strength training session, and yoga routines. He joined the team from Hearst, where he reviewed products for Men's Health, Women's Health, and Runner's World. He is passionate about the physical and mental benefits of exercise, and splits his time between weightlifting, CrossFit, and gymnastics, which he does to build strength, boost his wellbeing, and have fun.

Harry is a NCTJ-qualified journalist, and has written for Vice, Learning Disability Today, and The Argus, where he was a crime, politics, and sports reporter for several UK regional and national newspapers.