The word "abs" can seem intrinsically linked to Hollywood actors with rippling six-packs, but strengthening these midsection muscles holds benefits that go far beyond aesthetics alone.
You use your abs, and your wider core muscles, every day for functions such as bending, twisting and balancing. Simply sitting up and getting out of bed in the morning would be impossible without them, so we recommend unfurling a yoga mat and giving them some dedicated training time.
This doesn't have to take hours though. Fitness trainer Alexia Clark's three-move abs challenge uses just a single dumbbell to put your core to work in less than seven minutes, making it a great way to squeeze some exercise into a hectic daily schedule.
To try it for yourself, perform the first and second exercises for 30 seconds each with no rest in between. Next, take a 15-second breather before performing the weighted sit-up variation for 10 repetitions with the dumbbell in your right hand and 10 repetitions with the dumbbell in your left hand.
Repeat this sequence two more times to complete the workout.
You can watch Clark's video below to see demonstrations of all the exercises. Try practicing each one without any added weight until you feel comfortable using the correct form, then grab your dumbbell and get moving!
Watch Alexia Clark's home abs workout
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You might have noticed us using the terms "abs" and "core" above to describe the active muscles in this workout. This is because Clark's session uses both your rectus abdominis (responsible for the six-pack shape, and commonly shortened to "abs") and your wider core muscles which connect your upper body to your lower body.
As a result, there are subtle differences between abs vs core training.
This workout requires you to flex your spine during the crunch and sit-up variations, which is the primary function of the rectus abdominis.
By holding the dumbbell overhead and keeping your legs elevated during some of the exercises, it also recruits muscles like your transverse abdominis and multifidus, which play vital roles in stabilizing your spine, boosting your balance and maintaining your posture.
If you want more core workouts to try at home, give this sit-up-free two-move session a go. Or, if you're after a more comprehensive workout, why not try this 30-minute routine to build core strength and full-body muscle.
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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.
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