20 Weighted Ab Workouts and Core Exercises

Bodyweight ab exercises are adaptable and effective. However, to bolster your abdominal muscles and thicken six-pack abs, you should incorporate some weighted core exercises into your training regime.

Doing ab exercises using weights such as dumbbells, weight plates, and resistance machines can significantly improve your core muscle endurance to a greater extent and help a person develop six-pack abs.

In this article, I’ve shared as many as twenty best weighted ab exercises you can do to hit your rectus abdominis and obliques.

Here’s a quick list of all the exercises:

  1. Weight Plate Crunches
  2. Dumbbell Straight-Arm Crunches
  3. Seated Cable Crunches
  4. Dumbbell Toe Tap Crunches
  5. Decline Cable Crunches
  6. Dumbbell Leg Raise
  7. Weighted Reverse Crunches
  8. Hanging Dumbbell Leg Raises
  9. Weight Plate Lying Leg Hold
  10. Hanging Dumbbell Knee Raise
  11. Weighted Russian Twist
  12. Weighted Side Plank
  13. Dumbbell Side Bend
  14. High Cable Woodchop
  15. Low to High Cable Chop
  16. Landmine Oblique Twist
  17. Weighted Plank
  18. Alternate Toe Touch Crunches
  19. Overhead Circles
  20. Plank Row

To build a defined and solid core, you need to train your midsection from multiple angles. That’s why I’ve divided the exercise into different sections, containing exercises for upper abs, lower abs, and obliques. It will help you integrate the right core exercises into your training program.

The Best Weighted Core Exercises for Upper Abs

weighted ab exercises

1. Weight Plate Crunches

Crunches strengthen the abdominal muscles and increase core muscle endurance.

You can perform weighted crunches with a dumbbell, barbell, as well as medicine ball, depending on the equipment available.

Steps to do it:

  1. Lie on your back and grab a weight plate in your hands.
  2. Bend your knees and keep your arms straight above your chest.
  3. Brace your core, inhale, and lift your torso off the floor until your abs are fully engaged.
  4. Pause for a moment, and then return to the start.

To make it tougher, you can hold the weight plate behind your head and ask your friend to hold your feet to maintain balance during the movement.

2. Overhead Barbell Walk

The overhead barbell walk is a total body exercise that enhances strength, endurance, and mobility. It works throughout the body, including the abs and obliques.

Steps to do it:

  1. Grab a loaded barbell and press it overhead until your arms are straight.
  2. Brace your core and walk as far or long as possible.

3. Seated Cable Crunches

The seated cable crunch keeps the abs under constant tension and increases core strength. It also puts less stress on the lower back compared to the other abdominal exercises, so people with lower back issues can include it in their workout routines.

How to do a cable crunch:

  1. Attach the rope in the cable machine to an appropriate height.
  2. Sit on your knees on the mat and hold the cable firmly.
  3. Slightly lean your torso forward. This is your starting position.
  4. Pull down until you feel the stretch in your abs muscles.
  5. Hold for a couple of seconds and then return to the start. That’s one rep.

4. Dumbbell Toe Tap Crunch

Ab workout with weights

The toe taps are an excellent exercise to stimulate the abdominal muscles and increase core strength and definition. It’s one of my favorite exercises that helps me improve the shape of my abs.

Steps to do it:

  1. Start with lying on your back, holding a pair of dumbbells in your hand.
  2. Raise your legs together so that your body makes an L shape.
  3. Brace your abs and legs, and try to touch your toes as many times as you like.

5. Decline Cable Crunches

You can also use a decline bench and cable pulley to train your abs effectively. The decline cable crunches hit the abs and build a muscular core.

Steps to do it:

  1. Place an abdominal crunch bench in front of the cable machine and set the D handles or rope in the lowest section. Head position close to the cable machine.
  2. Lie down on the bench with your feet under the pads.
  3. Grab the rope behind your head and pull forward until your palms are facing your ears.
  4. Keeping your elbows bent and holding the rope firmly, do as many crunches as you like.

Weighted Exercises to Bolster Your Lower Abs

ab exercises with weights

6. Dumbbell Leg Raise

The leg raise primarily works on the lower abs and helps improve abs muscle definition.1 Park DJ, Park SY. Which trunk exercise most effectively activates abdominal muscles? A comparative study of plank and isometric bilateral leg raise exercisesJ Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2019;32(5):797-802. doi:10.3233/BMR-181122

Steps to perform:

  1. Lay down on your back with your arms straight at you just below your glutes.
  2. Clamp a dumbbell between your feet and keep your legs straight.
  3. Brace your core and raise your legs together as high as you can.
  4. Pause in that position for a moment and then lower your legs on the ground and repeat for the desired number of times.
  5. You’ll feel the contraction in your core during the movement.
  6. Keep your legs straight throughout the workout.

7. Weighted Reverse Crunches

dumbbell abs exercises

The weighted reverse crunch is a great way to bolster the lower abs without putting much stress on your spinal muscles. It is also easier to perform than many abs exercises; even beginners can try this exercise to sculpt their core.

Steps to perform a dumbbell reverse crunches:

  1. Lie on your back with your arms straight at your sides for support.
  2. Clamp a dumbbell between your feet, lift your feet off the ground, and keep your legs straight.
  3. Hold your core tight, inhale, and bring your knees toward your chest until your abs are fully engaged.
  4. Pause for a moment and then extend your knees until they are straight. That’s one rep.

You can also do this movement safely with the help of a cable machine.

8. Hanging Dumbbell Leg Raises

The hanging leg raise works on the overall core, including the upper abs, lower abs, and obliques. You can make it more effective using the dumbbell.

How to perform the leg raise with a dumbbell:

  1. Grab the pull-up bar with an overhand grip, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and hang on it.
  2. Clamp a dumbbell between your feet.
  3. Now tighten your core, hold a dumbbell using your feet, and raise as high as you can.
  4. Keep your leg extended during the whole movement.

9. Isometric V-up Hold

Weight Plate Ab

The V-up hold is an isometric ab exercise that builds core strength and stability and enhances endurance in abdominal muscles.

Steps to do it:

  • Holding a medicine ball, lie on the floor.
  • Lift your legs and torso off the ground, forming a V shape.
  • Hold into this position for as long as you can.

10. Dumbbell Knee Raises

The hanging knee raise is my favorite ab exercise that I often do to reinforce my midsection. It particularly targets the lower abs.

Adding dumbbells to this exercise can increase resistance and muscle engagement and help you develop a well-defined and sculpted midsection.

Steps to do it:

  1. Clamp a dumbbell between your feet and hang onto the pull bar with an overhand grip.
  2. Keep your hands slightly wider than a shoulder-width apart and your legs straight downward.
  3. Raise your knees toward your chest as high as possible.
  4. Pause for a couple of seconds and extend your knees downward. That is your one rep.

Weighted Oblique Workouts to Sculpt Your Core

Weighted Core Exercises

11. Weighted Russian Twist

The Russian twist is a compound exercise that primarily trains the obliques, the side portion of your abdominal muscles, increases torso flexibility, and improves the appearance of six-pack abs.

How to Russian Twist with weight plate

  1. Sit on the floor holding a weight plate in your hands.
  2. Bend your elbows and hold the weight plate in front of your stomach.
  3. Keep your legs slightly off the ground. This is your starting position.
  4. Brace your hips and core, and twist your torso on both sides.

12. Side Plank

The side plank is an isometric exercise that keeps your core engaged throughout the hold. It primarily works on oblique muscles and helps increase abdominal strength.

Steps to perform side plank using a dumbbell:

  1. Get yourself onto either of your forearms in a way that your leg stays on one another.
  2. Grab a dumbbell in the opposite arm and keep it extended toward the ceiling.
  3. Hold as long as you can, then perform with the other side.

13. Dumbbell Side Bend

The side bend is an excellent exercise to isolate the external and internal obliques and help achieve a balanced and toned midsection. It also increases upper body flexibility and improves functional fitness.

Steps to do a dumbbell side bend:

  1. Grab a dumbbell in your right hand and stand upright.
  2. Keep your right arm straight at your side with your palms facing in.
  3. Bend your torso to the left until you feel the full contraction in your oblique.
  4. Return to the start and repeat for the desired times.
  5. Once you complete, switch to the opposite side.

14. High to Low Cable Woodchop

You can perform various ab exercises on a cable machine, including the high-to-low chop. The high cable woodchop works on the overall core, especially the obliques.

Doing the incline chop on a machine avoids unnecessary movement, allows you to adjust the resistance, and helps you train your abs effectively.

How to perform a high-cable woodchop:

  • Set the rack higher than your height and stand on the side of the machine.
  • Grab the handle with your hands and pull the cable down and across your body until it crosses your hips.
  • Hold into the position for a moment and then return to the beginning.
  • Keep your core engaged throughout the movement.

15. Low to High Cable Wood Chop

The low-to-how cable chop hits the oblique muscle from a different angle than the incline chop and helps build defined abs.

Steps to do it:

  1. Attach the D handle to the cable and set the pulley to the lowest section.
  2. Stand upright with your left shoulder facing the machine.
  3. Keeping your arms straight, pull the cable across your body while twisting your torso toward your right shoulder. Make sure your core is fully engaged.
  4. Reverse the movement to return to the start. That’s one rep.

16. Landmine Oblique Twist

The landmine twist is a core-strengthening exercise that bolsters the various upper body muscles simultaneously, especially the obliques.

I usually include this exercise in my barbell complex training to shed some calories while sculpting my abdominal muscles.

Steps to do it:

  1. Insert the desired weight into the bar and grab it firmly with your hands.
  2. Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart, take a step back, and hold the bar at your head level with your arms straight.
  3. Slightly lean forward and keep your back straight and core tight.
  4. Twist the bar to your left side until it reaches your hips level.
  5. Pause for a moment and bring the barbell to the starting point.
  6. Twist the bar to the other side to complete the first rep.

Weighted Ab Exercises to Boost Core Endurance

Forearm Plank

17. Weighted Plank

Plank is a simple yet great exercise for core development. It not only bolsters the abs but also engages the arms and shoulders throughout the movement.2 Zahiri A, Alizadeh S, Daneshjoo A, Pike N, Konrad A, Behm DG. Core Muscle Activation With Foam Rolling and Static PlanksFront Physiol. 2022;13:852094. Published 2022 Mar 8. doi:10.3389/fphys.2022.852094

Planks also torch significant calories in a short time and help tone your abdominal muscles.

Steps to perform the weighted plank:

  1. Get yourself into the plank position, holding your body weight on your forearm and feet.
  2. Keep your body straight in line from top to bottom while keeping your spine straight.
  3. Now tighten your core, hips, and hamstrings, and ask your friend to put a weight plate on your lower back.
  4. Hold as long as you can, then remove the weight plate.

You can also incorporate the multiple weighted plank variations into your training program.

18. Alternating Toe Tap

The alternating top tap crunches are a core exercise that targets the upper abs, lower abs, and obliques all at the same time and helps build a toned and sturdy midsection.

Steps to do it:

  1. Lie on your back with your legs straight.
  2. Grab a dumbbell in your right hand and keep the other arm resting on the floor.
  3. Extend your right arm behind your head. That’s your starting position.
  4. Now brace your core and start raising your right arm and left leg simultaneously until they are close to each other. Return to the start and repeat.

19. Overhead Circles

Overhead Circles

The overhead circle is a compound exercise you can do with a weight plate. It works on multiple upper body muscles, from rectus abdominis and obliques to arms and shoulders.

Steps to do it:

  1. Grab a weight plate and stand upright.
  2. Hold the bar overhead with your arms straight.
  3. Brace your core and circle the weight plate overhead.
  4. Circle the weight plate as many times as you can on both sides.

20. Plank Row

The plank row is a multi-joint exercise that forges the core, back, shoulders, and arms simultaneously. It also enhances balance and muscle coordination.

It is a part of my core workout routine. That’s why I’ve added it to this list. You can also try it to see if it works for you.

Steps to do it:

  • Get into a high plank position onto the dumbbells, and keep your feet firmly on the ground shoulder-width apart. Your body will be in an elevated position, straight from the top to the bottom.
  • Now brace your core and lift your right elbow to row, then bring the dumbbell into the plank position and repeat with the opposite elbow. Do as many repetitions as you can do.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can You Build Abs with Weights?

Yes, adding weights to the bodyweight ab exercises can be beneficial for building a firm and sculpted core. The weight provides extra stress on the muscles and helps you thicken your rectus abdominis (six-pack abs) and obliques.

How Often Should You Train Your Core with Weights?

You can do weighted core exercises once to twice a week. If you want to expose the six-pack muscles, train at least twice a week. I usually hit my abs two times with weights and once a week without weights to solidify my score. It’s because I perform various compound movements, such as the deadlift, bench press, bent-over tow, and squat throughout the week, and a strong core helps me lift more during these exercises.

Do Weighted Ab Exercises Burn Belly Fat?

No, neither bodyweight nor weighted exercises torch fat. They primarily increase strength and thicken your hidden abs muscles under your stomach. If you want to lower your belly fat, you’ll have to focus more on your calorie consumption. Generally, a low-calorie meal plan can help decrease body fat and help you get lean.


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Murshid Akram
I'm an online personal trainer, fitness blogger, and fitness enthusiast. I love researching and writing about exercise and nutrition. I share science-based, practical, and logical information that can help you achieve your desired fitness goal.

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