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A 5-Move Dumbbell Core Workout For A Stronger Center

BB Arrington, CPT
Personal trainer & holistic nutritionist
By BB Arrington, CPT
Personal trainer & holistic nutritionist
BB Arrington is NASM-certified personal trainer, holistic nutritionist, and sustainability advocate.
Image by Andreas von Scheele
January 17, 2022
Welcome to mbg moves! For the first installment of 2022, we're changing things up a bit with a strength-training-at-home series, from BB Arrington. Check out the full strength-training-at-home guide here, which includes tips, advice, and insight for beginning the journey to a stronger you. Plus, tune in each week for a new at-home workout to include in your routine.
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You've heard it before, but let me say it again: Your core is essential to supporting pretty much every movement you do. When it comes to your life outside the gym, engaging your core stabilizes your body when you're, say, picking up your child or putting your suitcase in the overhead bin. Engaging your core during a workout also helps you move more efficiently, increase your strength, and take pressure off of the spine.

To break it down, the core is composed of the muscles that run the length of your trunk. This includes the back, abs, glutes, and even the diaphragm. To get more technical, your multifidus, erector spinae, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, obliques, and pelvic floor play a large role—and to a lesser degree, your latissimus dorsi, trapezius, and gluteus muscles.

That's a lot to take in, but just know that paying attention to this valuable group of muscles is so important. For the purposes of this workout, we're going to focus on non-glutes core strength (stay tuned for a more glutes-specific workout). In this five-move routine, you'll find your strength by working to control torque and rotation, firing up the obliques, and calling on lower abdominal control—all with one single dumbbell.

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Workout Summary

  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Equipment: Single dumbbell
  • Instructions: Complete three sets of 8 to 12 reps of each exercise. Move from one exercise to the next with some rest in between.

Plank Walkover

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  1. Find a plank on your hands: feet shoulder-width apart, palms pressing the floor away, and tip your tailbone toward the back of your knees to shorting the distance between the high hip and the low ribs.
  2. One arm at a time, drop down to your elbows, then lift back up to your hands.
  3. Each time you land back on your hands is one rep.
  4. Note: This exercise can be modified by planking on your knees.
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Corkscrew

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  1. Lie down on your back and stack your hands to make a pillow for your head.
  2. Cross your legs, feet to the sky.
  3. Lower your legs tracing a small imaginary clock moving clockwise.
  4. When you hit 12 o'clock, lift your tailbone off the floor like you're trying to touch your toes to the ceiling.
  5. Repeat counterclockwise.
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Weighted Side Plank

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  1. Find a side plank on your elbow keeping the body tight from your feet to your shoulders. 
  2. For the arm on the floor, press your elbow down toward your hips to create stability.
  3. With a dumbbell in your free hand, lower weight to tap the floor and back up to the sky.
  4. Resist the temptation to allow the hips to rotate toward the sky or the hips to push backward.
  5. Note: This exercise can be modified by side planking with your knees on the floor.
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Weighted Leg Lower

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  1. Lie down on your back and stack your hands to make a pillow for your head.
  2. Sandwich a dumbbell between your legs and lengthen your legs to the sky.
  3. Keeping your ribs down, lower the legs down to the floor, then return to the starting position.
  4. Note: This exercise can be modified by removing the dumbbell. Make sure the low back doesn't flex and extend as you work. Your low back doesn't need to touch the floor, but it shouldn't lift and lower throughout the exercise. 

Windmill

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  1. Stand with feet just outside of shoulder width.
  2. Turn one leg out about 30 degrees.
  3. Hold the dumbbell in the hand with the turned-out leg.
  4. Reach your other arm up to the sky.
  5. Like you are tracing your turned-out leg, lower the weight down toward your foot, bending over without twisting your chest to the floor.
  6. Using your obliques, lift back up to the start position.
BB Arrington, CPT
BB Arrington, CPT
Personal trainer & holistic nutritionist

BB Arrington is NASM-certified personal trainer, holistic nutritionist, and sustainability advocate. Not only are fitness and nutrition integral to healthy function, but the way we treat the planet and others. She advocates for a true wellness that is inclusive of all six tenements: physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, environmental, and social.