If you’re looking for a way to level up your ab workout, adding some resistance is a great idea. Incorporating load into your core routine makes the moves more intense, more strenuous for your muscles, and gets results. “If bodyweight abdominal or core exercises are no longer challenging for you, add weights,” says Kristen McParland, CPT, a strength-focused personal trainer.
While increasing reps is one way of progressing, doing an ab workout with weights will help you gain strength and definition while maintaining a low rep range. (That means you don’t have to spend more time sweating.) Repetitions over 20 tend to focus more on muscular endurance and less on strength and hypertrophy. So, using a kettlebell, dumbbell, or any form of weight for 6 to 15 reps of each exercise in your core training program can further your toning while keeping your reps to a minimum, says McParland.
Meet the expert: Kristen McParland, CPT, is a NASM-certified fitness and nutrition coach with 10 years of experience.
If your main goal is adding muscle definition to your midsection the best (read: fastest) way to get abs is via weighted ab workouts. Performing exercises with a load that’s heavy enough to make you struggle by the last couple of reps is key to ultimate definition success.
The extra pounds make your whole system work that much harder, and that’s especially true of the muscles in your middle, because that’s your center of gravity. So, when you pick up a weight and lift it overhead, for example, or move it from the floor toward the ceiling, all of that coordination comes from your core engaging and supporting your other muscles as they move.
17 Best Weighted Abs Exercises
Instructions: Complete all moves on the list, and do as many reps as possible (AMRAP) of each exercise in 40 seconds, with 20 seconds of rest in between before continuing immediately to the next. Rest for 2 minutes, then, repeat the entire circuit again.