You only need one dumbbell, five moves, and 25 minutes to develop your core and boost your balance

Build stronger abs at home, reduce back pain, and develop your mind-muscle connection with this short, effective routine

A man preparing for a dumbbell abs workout in his apartment
(Image credit: Getty / Gorodenkoff)

If you're bored of standard abs workouts (sit-ups, sit-ups, and more sit-ups) then why not take this alternative core session for a spin instead?

There are five new moves to learn and you only need one dumbbell (or adjustable dumbbell) to give them a go at home. The routine is the brainchild of fitness trainer James Stirling, better known as the London Fitness Guy on Instagram.

It's designed to work your mid-body muscles to improve your posture, boost your balance, and reduce back pain. To try it yourself, perform the moves one after the other for 40 seconds each, leaving a 20-second rest between each one.

After you've finished all five, you can leave it there or go back to the start for an extra challenge. Stirling suggests tackling five rounds in total for a 25-minute workout, but you can tinker with this figure to suit your experience level.

So, if you want to build serious core strength, all that's left to do is warm up, watch Stirling's demonstrations, and practice your technique. Then you're ready to get the most from your training and avoid injury.

Watch the London Fitness Guy's dumbbell abs workout

Stirling uses a 22lb/10kg dumbbell for each of the moves in this workout. But, if you're new to weighted core strengthening exercises like these, you might want to start lighter (or without any weight at all) to perfect your form. 

Then, when you feel comfortable with the movements, you can start pushing yourself to use heavier dumbbells. If you're not sure where to start and want to know which dumbbell weight you should use, there are a few things to look out for. 

You want to pick a load that'll challenge your muscles, but won't affect your form. So a set should be difficult but achievable. Then, as you get stronger, you can use the progressive overload technique to gradually increase the load. 

Our other top tip is to focus on squeezing your core during these exercises. This won't just help you drown out distractions, it will also encourage mind-muscle connection, which can increase activation of the targeted muscles to make for a more effective workout. 

If you enjoyed the variety on offer in this abs workout, you might be interested in other alternative ways to train these muscles that aren't the age-old bodyweight staples of sit-ups, crunches, and planks. 

If that's the case, take a look at our roundup of the best ab rollers, which will help put a different spin on your next core session. These wheels are lightweight, easy to store, and lower cost than weights, too. 

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.