Develop your core with this super simple three-move ab workout

This time-savvy session takes less than 10 minutes

A woman performing lying leg raises
(Image credit: Future)

Sit-ups are all well and good, but there's a much wider world to explore when it comes to ab workouts. 

For example, this three-move workout will engage more of your core than a classic crunch, and you only need a single dumbbell to give it a go. The best adjustable dumbbells (opens in new tab) are a good option for at-home training as you can increase the weight to make exercises more difficult, but fixed-weight dumbbells, kettlebells and even filled water bottles will suffice for this session. 

This core circuit has been designed by Sweat (opens in new tab) app trainer Kelsey Wells (opens in new tab), who specializes in crafting clever workouts to help people of all fitness levels build strength, power and muscle. 

It's super simple and accessible too, consisting of just three exercises; weighted scissors, the plank and drag, and bent to straight leg raises. We recommend performing 10 repetitions of each move back-to-back, resting for 30 seconds, then repeating this circuit for three rounds in total. This way, you should have the workout wrapped up in under 10 minutes. 

Another big bonus of this session is you can scale it up or down to fit your fitness level. Increase the number of reps and rounds if you feel you need more of a challenge (an example of the strength-building progressive overload (opens in new tab) principle) or decrease them for a beginner-friendly version of the workout. 

Watch Wells' video below to learn how to perform each exercise, then give them a go for yourself. Just make sure to practice with perfect form before launching into the workout. 

Watch Kelsey Wells' three-move ab workout

A post shared by KELSEY WELLS (@kelseywells) (opens in new tab)

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Combined, these three core strengthening exercises (opens in new tab) work several muscles in your midsection (as the best abs workouts (opens in new tab) should). You see, your core is made up of more than just the "six-pack muscle" (or rectus abdominis, to give it the scientific name). 

This muscle is still in for a hard time courtesy of the weighted scissors and bent to straight leg raises included in the routine. However, the plank and drags in this workout will also put your internal and external obliques (often called "side abs") to work, while calling the stabilizing transverse abdominis into action too. 

Training a variety of your core muscles has plenty of health benefits, according to the Mayo Clinic (opens in new tab). These include boosting your balance and stability, which in turn can improve your performance in other sports and types of exercise.

If you want to slip this short session into your schedule, you can use it as a way to get moving on your lunch break or as a quick post-work workout. We also think it makes a good finisher – a short series of movements that can be tagged on to a weight training session to further fatigue the targeted muscles. 

However, to allow your core to recover, you might want to try a lower-intensity activity the following day. This could be a walk, cycle or session from our running plan for beginners (opens in new tab)

Harry Bullmore is a fitness writer covering everything from reviews to features for LiveScience, T3, TechRadar, Fit&Well and more. So, whether you’re looking for a new fitness tracker or wondering how to shave seconds off your 5K PB, chances are he’s written something to help you improve your training.


When not writing, he’s most likely to be found experimenting with a wide variety of training methods in his home gym or trying to exhaust his ever-energetic puppy.


Prior to joining Future, Harry wrote health and fitness product reviews for publications including Men’s Health, Women’s Health and Runner’s World. Before this, he spent three years as a news reporter with work in more than 70 national and regional newspapers.