We have compiled an article with exercises where you benefit using only one dumbbell! That’s right ONE dumbbell! Believe it or not these exercises will target your core, obliques, back and biceps, and still give you the defined, strengthen muscle mass you require. The reason for this, is we appreciate the annoyance when you arrive at the gym and everything is in use, but a single dumbbell can be equally effective as using two or any other equipment to target your abs.
The best thing about these exercises are, if dumbbells aren’t free, you can easily subsidies them for a kettle bell or even a weight plate. These carefully executed exercises will leave your upper body burning for more!
- Complete the following five moves in the order shown.
- Perform 15 reps of a lift and then move on to the next without rest.
- After the final move, rest for 60 seconds.
- Do six circuits in total.
- Make the circuit easier with a lighter dumbbell, or harder with a heavier one.
- Hold a dumbbell in both hands.
- Bend from the hips to lower the weight between your legs, then push your hips forward to raise it up to shoulder height.
- Reverse back down to the start.
This is a take on the classic kettlebell swing that offers all the same benefits. The hip hinge that forms the basis of this move is one of the core foundational bodyweight movements that you should work on mastering before beginning any weight training programme.
Side bend with dumbbell:
- Stand tall, holding the dumbbell in one hand.
- Keeping your chest up, lower the weight – this will hit your obliques.
- Complete all the reps, then switch hands and repeat.
Most abs routines veer too far down the crunch route, leading to an imbalance whereby the obliques are not developed enough. This exercise is one of the best for targeting the latter. Strong obliques provide a foundation of rotational strength, vital for those who play contact sports or are in physical/manual occupations.
- Squat, holding the weight in both hands to one side.
- Raise it across your body to head height, then back down.
- Do all the reps, then switch sides.
Another excellent oblique-targeting move, this also improves your body’s co-ordination and core strength because you need to resist rotating the torso.
Crunch with dumbbell:
- Lie flat on the floor with your knees bent, holding the dumbbell to your chest with both hands.
- Use your upper abs to raise your torso, then lower slowly to the start.
The crunch is the true test of fundamental core strength and provides great stimulation to the abdominals. The only way to increase its difficulty is to add weight, and the dumbbell crunch does this perfectly. Pick a weight you can perform eight to ten reps with, and initiate through the abs muscles themselves, not the hip flexors.
Dumbbell Russian twist
- Start at the top of the crunch but with your feet off the ground.
- Rotate back and forth, keeping your abs braced.
- A twist to one side then the other counts as one rep.
The elevated position of the feet in this exercise places enormous strain on both the upper and lower abs, which are typically a tricky area to stimulate. The twisting movement involves the obliques also which you will find invaluable when stabilising the body on heavy, compound lifts.