This 5-Move Full-Body Dumbbell Workout Has a Big Core Payoff

A ROCK-SOLID training plan doesn't need to be complicated. If you're low on time, equipment, or even just patience, this effective workout split—which happens to blast your core from every angle—can be your solution. All you need is a pair of dumbbells, a bench, and willingness to work.

This five-move workout builds total-body muscle and strength and rocks your abs by turning every exercise you do, from bench presses to squats, into a stern test for your core.

DIRECTIONS: Do this workout 4 days a week, resting at least 1 day between sessions. On days you rest, aim to go for a 20-minute walk or run.


Child's Pose with Cross-Body Reach

Start on all fours, hands directly below your shoulders. Push your butt back as far as possible, sitting on your calves. Then reach your hands forward as far as possible, decompressing your spine. Squeeze your shoulder blades as you do this. Maintain this position as you lift your left hand and thread it under your right armpit, reaching as far to the right as possible. Repeat on the other side, then return to the start. Do reps for 40 seconds, then rest 20 seconds. Do 3 sets.


DIRECTIONS: Do the exercises in order. Rest 30 seconds between sets and 60 between moves. Use medium-weight dumbbells.

1. Hinge to Alternating Pause Row

Stand holding dumbbells at your hips, abs and glutes tight. Keeping the dumbbells close to your legs, push your butt back and lower your torso until it’s nearly parallel to the floor or until you feel your hamstrings tighten, whichever comes first. Pause. Row the right dumbbell to the right side of your rib cage, then lower. Repeat on the other side, then stand and squeeze your glutes. That’s 1 rep; do 3 sets of 8.

2. V-Sit Halo

Sit on the floor, legs straight, a dumbbell held in front of your chest with both hands. Tighten your abs and raise your legs a few inches from the floor. This is the start. Maintain this position as you rotate the dumbbell around your head in a tight circle. Do 6 reps clockwise and 6 reps counterclockwise. Do 3 sets.

3. Half-Bench Single-Arm Press

Lie with your back on a bench, a dumbbell held in your left hand over your shoulder, feet flat on the floor. Now shimmy to the left side of the bench so that your left shoulder blade, your left glute, half your head, and your spine are off the bench. Tighten your abs and glutes. This is the start. Bend at the elbow and shoulder, lowering the dumbbell to your left shoulder. Press it back up. That’s 1 rep; do 3 sets of 10 per side. Do not rest between sets.

4. Heels-Elevated Goblet Squat Countup

Place a 45-pound plate or small block on the floor and stand with your feet close together, heels on the plate or block. Hold 1 end of a dumbbell at your chest, abs and glutes tight. Bend at the knees and hips and lower your torso until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Pause here for 1 second. Stand. Lower again, this time pausing for 2 seconds. Stand. Repeat this pattern, adding 1 second to the pause with each rep, for 8 reps. Do 3 sets.

5. Plank to Bear Plank Alternating Row

Get in pushup position, hands on dumbbells. Keeping your hips and shoulders square to the floor, row the right dumbbell to your rib cage. Pause, then lower. Repeat on the left side. Jump your feet forward so your knees are below your hips, shins off the floor. Keeping hips and shoulders square to the floor, row the right dumbbell to your rib cage. Repeat on the other side. Jump back to plank position. That’s 1 rep. Do reps for 40 seconds, then rest 20 seconds. Do 4 sets.