There’s a time and a place for sit-ups, but developing core strength doesn’t have to revolve around repetitive spine-bending movements.
One of the best ways to build midsection muscle is through movements that require good stability like squats, as these exercises will challenge your core to support your spine.
You can find several of these exercises in this workout from personal trainer Julie Ledbetter (@MovementWithJulie), which combines strength and cardio training to engage your core and boost your metabolism at the same time.
All you need to try it for yourself is some floor space and a pair of dumbbells. If you don’t have any, we’d recommend investing in a pair from our guide to the best adjustable dumbbells, which will allow you to change their weight to suit your strength level. However, a fixed weight set will also work fine for this session.
Watch Ledbetter’s demonstrations as she takes you through each of the movements and details the correct technique, so you can perfect your form for each one before giving the full workout a go.
Watch Julie Ledbetter's seven-move dumbbell workout
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Complete three rounds of these movements using a circuit format, performing each exercise one after the other. Ledbetter calls this a go-at-your-own-pace workout, meaning there’s no time limit and you can work through the exercises at a speed that suits you.
Feel free to take a rest between each round, or if you want to increase the intensity of the session you can try moving through the exercises without taking breaks in between. However, never rush through the movements to the point you're forced to compromise on form.
Ledbetter says these go-at-your-own-pace workouts are designed to ensure you are properly working each muscle group, so make sure you’re focusing on mind-muscle connection by squeezing your core muscles during each exercise.
Try this 12-minute mobility routine before you get started to make sure you're ready for the more explosive exercises like jump squats, 90-degree half-burpees, and weighted skaters.
This short session also works well as a finisher to tag on the end of a longer workout. Pair it with a strength routine like this full-body 20-minute workout if you’re looking to fill an hour.
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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.
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