There’s no denying every serious gym-goer is after a strong core. Not only do powerful abdominal and back muscles give you a fit physique, but they’re key in preventing injury and providing support for the rest of your body down the line. And if you’re already doing ab workouts regularly, you’re ready for a challenge. That’s where the weighted ab moves come into play.
Try this 10-minute ab workout for a challenge. Try including the weight at first (between 5 and 20 pounds is a good place to start), and if it’s too difficult, you can always modify the movement. Complete each exercise for 50 seconds, taking a 10 second rest between each.
1. Russian twists
Woman doing Russian twists with a weight | iStock.com/jacoblund
Muscles worked: Obliques, lower abs, upper abs
Begin this move by sitting on the ground with knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and back straight. Hold your weight at chest level and begin to lean back slightly. When you’re ready to start, float your feet a few inches off the floor while keeping your knees together. Twist side to side, bringing your weight with you, as you work to both balance and challenge your obliques.
You don’t need to rush through this move, either — try performing the exercise slowly and with control until you get the hang of the movement.
2. Ab roll-ups
Muscles worked: Upper abs, back, shoulders
This crunch variation targets the abs better than the average sit-up thanks to the weight and straight legs. Begin by lying on your back with legs straight and long in front of you. Grab your weight and hold it at your chest. Start by slowly rolling your upper body off of the ground (like a sit-up) while keeping your legs completely straight. At the top of the movement, reach forward with your weight, and then bring it back to your chest. Slowly roll back down to the ground to complete one rep.
3. Jackknife split
Muscles worked: Upper abs, lower abs, back, hips
Shape recommends this challenging move. Start by lying on your back with legs together and extended long. Your arms should also stretch long behind the head next to your ears while holding your weight in both hands. Begin the move by lifting your upper and lower body into a “V” position (you’ll balance on your glutes at the top of the movement). When you’re in your V shape, bring the weight down to your chest. Lift it back overhead and lower both arms and legs to the ground to complete one rep.
4. Hanging leg raise
Man doing ab exercises on a pull-up bar | iStock.com/dolgachov
Muscles worked: Lower abs, hips, glutes, shoulders, back, grip
You’ll only need a light weight for this move from Muscle & Fitness. Grab on to a pull-up bar and roll the shoulders back and down to prepare for the movement. Also, make sure your hips are tucked under to engage the core. Place your weight between your feet, and with straight legs, lift to your highest point before slowly lowering down. If this is too difficult, try bending your knees.
5. Toe touch crunches
Muscles worked: Lower abs, upper abs, hips, obliques, shoulders
Start this exercise by lying on your back, holding your weight at chest level. Straighten your legs above your hips so they create a 90-degree angle. To begin, hold your weight with straight arms above your chest and lift your upper body to reach toward your toes. Slowly lower back down to the ground for one rep. For even more of a challenge, add little pulses at the top.
6. Leaning camel
Muscles worked: Back, glutes, upper abs
PopSugar recommends this yoga-inspired weighted move. Start this move on your knees (don’t sit on your legs, though — remain upright) and hold the weight at chest-level. With a straight back, slowly lean backward as far as you can while engaging your core to keep your spine straight. You’ll also need to squeeze your glutes here to stay balanced. Gently lift yourself back to the starting position to complete one rep.
7. Hollow body hold
Muscles worked: Upper abs, lower abs, back, shoulders
Start on your back with legs long in front of you and arms straight on the ground past your ears. You have two options for the weight here: You can hold it in both of your hands overhead when you begin, or you can hold it between your feet. Whatever you choose for the weight, you’ll be entering the same position. When you’re ready, press your lower back into the floor to engage your core, and lift straightened arms and legs a few inches off the ground.
8. Side plank with a row
Woman doing side planks | iStock.com/undrey
Muscles worked: Obliques, back
This move is a great challenge for your obliques. Get into proper push-up position with your back flat, abs engaged, and shoulders directly above your hands. Have your weight resting by your right hand. When you’re ready to begin, get into side plank position from here by turning your body to the right and balancing on your left hand. Your left wrist should be directly under your left shoulder, and your right leg should be stacked on top of your left leg. Make sure your hips are lifted, too.
Grab the weight with your right hand and row while holding your side plank. Switch sides midway through the set.
Muscles worked: Obliques, upper abs
You’ll need one heavy weight for this exercise. Begin in a squat position with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Take your weight in both hands and twist down so it falls to your left side while squatting. When you’re ready to start, stand from your squat and bring straightened arms from your left side body up above your head to your right side body. Squat and bring the weight back down to your left to complete the rep. Midway through the set, switch sides.
10. Kettlebell swing
Muscles worked: Back, hips, glutes, shoulders, upper abs, chest
This total-body exercise is more difficult than it first appears. Begin with a heavier kettlebell (20-30 pounds to start) in both hands in front of you. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart with toes pointing slightly outward and knees soft. To start, keep your lower back slightly arched as you bend your knees and bring the kettlebell between and slightly behind your legs. Then, squeeze your glutes and straighten your legs to explosively swing the kettlebell upward. Let the weight swing back down between your legs as you bend again and keep the momentum into the next rep.
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