You only need three moves and a pair of dumbbells to build a stronger core

Target a wide range of core muscles with this simple dumbbell routine

Woman doing the chest fly exercise on the floor with a pair of dumbbells
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If there's one area of your body it's worth strengthening, it's your core. This collection of mid-body muscles play a part in almost every movement you make, from squatting down to tie your shoes to putting your shopping away.

A lot of people use crunches and sit-ups to strengthen the core. These exercises primarily target the rectus abdominis (the abs), which are found at the front of your stomach, but they don't strengthen other important core muscles. To get a more comprehensive core workout, you need to do a wider range of movements.

Doing a routine like the one below from Sadie Lee will fire up additional mid-body muscles like your obliques, found along the side of your abdomen, and your transverse abdominis, which lies deep within your midsection and wraps around your trunk. 

The workout only has three moves to master and requires a simple set of dumbbells. 

Watch Sadie Lee Thomas' deep core dumbbell workout

To do the workout, complete 20 repetitions of each exercise and repeat the circuit four times. Pick a pair of light dumbbells for the routine, as the focus should be on slow and controlled movements, rather than lifting heavy.

Keep your core engaged throughout by tucking in your ribcage and squeezing your abdominals muscles. 

Benefits of core workouts

Training your core could make everyday activities feel easier and improve your sporting performance. It could even help alleviate back pain, as the muscles in this area support your spine and stability.

Speaking with Fit&Well about the importance of the core muscles, trainer Eliza Flyn said: “You can’t make any significant movements without using your core. Picking clothes up from the floor, throwing a ball, crawling on the floor with your pets or children, gardening—all these depend on your core muscles."

Looking for some new weights? See our guide to the best adjustable dumbbells

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.