Use this trainer's five-move dumbbell routine to build a strong core

Hit a plateau building core strength? Challenge yourself with this weighted workout

Mature man performing plank dumbbell row in gym
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you want to get fit and build muscle, it's worth dedicating some time to core-strengthening workouts. The core comprises the muscles at the center of the body, including the abdominals, the hips, and the lower back, all of which play a big role in day-to-day movement and exercise.

Developing core strength will not only make you stronger overall, allowing you to lift heavier, but it can also reduce lower-back pain and make daily activities such as walking, sitting, and carrying things easier.

NASM-qualified personal trainer Fernanda Shaw recently shared a simple routine designed to target the muscles in the core and all you need to do it is a pair of light dumbbells.  

Watch Shaw's dumbbell core workout

Complete 15-20 repetitions (reps) of each movement, aiming for the higher end of the rep range but only if you can with proper form.

If you notice that your lower back starts to arch during the dead bug or scissor exercises, or your hips drop during the high plank, try doing the movements without weights or reduce the number of reps.

Complete three rounds of the workout, taking time to rest between rounds if needed.

Benefits of this workout

Weighted workouts like this one are great if you want to advance your usual bodyweight core exercises. Incorporating light weights into the routine provides an extra challenge to your mid-body muscles, helping you build strength in the area.

It's a good idea to train your core like you would with any other muscle in the body, increasing the load over time. This principle is known as progressive overload, and it's one of the best ways to ensure you steadily build strength and muscle.

We recommend investing in a pair of the best adjustable dumbbells if you don't already have some, so you can increase the weight as you get stronger without having to buy new sets of weights each time. Progressive overload made easier. 

Alice Porter
Freelancer Writer

Alice Porter is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle topics including health, fitness and wellness. She is particularly interested in women's health, strength training and fitness trends and writes for publications including Stylist Magazine, Refinery29, The Independent and Glamour Magazine. Like many other people, Alice's personal interest in combining HIIT training with strength work quickly turned into a CrossFit obsession and she trains at a box in south London. When she's not throwing weights around or attempting handstand push-ups, you can probably find her on long walks in nature, buried in a book or hopping on a flight to just about anywhere it will take her.