Let’s face it, every one of us needs fat. The American Heart Association lists fat as an essential part of our diets, mainly for its role in providing energy to our bodies and supporting cell growth.
Many of us struggle with one particular area in our body that seems to hold a bulk of our fat stores—the belly. Belly fat is fat that sits around our abdomen.
There are actually two kinds of belly fat. Subcutaneous fat is fat that is just under our skin, while visceral fat surrounds our organs, like the liver. Of these two, visceral fat is more dangerous to our health as it poses a risk for diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, asthma, and even certain types of cancer and dementia.
What Causes Belly Fat?
A lot of factors contribute to a person accumulating excess fat in the belly area. Consuming a diet that is high in refined carbohydrates, sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, alcohol, and trans fats is one factor. These four types of food contribute to belly fat, especially when taken in excess amounts. Stress and genetics also play a role, as can poor sleep and smoking.
Finally, lack of exercise can also cause excess belly fat in men and women. Physical activity should always be a part of your daily routine if you want a healthy and fit lifestyle.
There are many ways to be physically active and burn off extra calories, but many people find it difficult to get rid of abdominal fat. It doesn’t help that normal daily activities don’t usually engage your abdominal muscles, so you have to be really intentional in targeting your belly.
Fortunately, there are a lot of exercises that will help you engage your core muscles and burn off that unwanted belly fat. Got a dumbbell or two? Then you’re ready to amp up your ab exercises beyond crunches and sit-ups.
Achieve a Flat Stomach Using Dumbbells:
Dumbbells give your workout routine extra oomph. The added weight, even just a few pounds, can provide you with a much-needed boost if you feel that doing crunches isn’t cutting it anymore. There are some exercises that you might already be familiar with, but not as core strengthening or belly fat-busting exercises. The dumbbells add some resistance that will force your core muscles to work harder to maintain your posture, burning off stubborn belly fat in the process.
So what are you waiting for? Grab those dumbbells, pull out your exercise mat and your workout playlist, and exercise your way to a flatter stomach with these ten dumbbell exercises that will help you shed off those extra pounds.
Remember that you also need to be following a proper diet as well as cardio to help reduce your weight and achieve a flat stomach.
10 Dumbbell Exercises You Can Do to Get a Flat Stomach
1. Dumbbell Offset Shoulder Carry:
This simple exercise may not look like an ab workout, but because of the extra weight of the dumbbell, you’ll need to engage your core. Doing this exercise properly—keeping your core tight all throughout the routine—is key to achieving good results in your tummy area.
Hold the dumbbell with your right hand, elbow bent in a V-shape, with the dumbbell just below your face. Walk a few steps forward, making sure your core is tight and engaged. Switch hands and repeat.
2. Knee Raises:
Grab the dumbbell with both hands, grasping it on both ends. Start with your elbows in a 90-degree angle with the dumbbell just a little above your head. Your upper arm should be parallel to the floor.
Lower your arms toward your right leg, at the same time raising your right knee to meet the dumbbell. Push in on the dumbbell to really engage your ab muscles. Lift your arms back up to the starting position, then push down again, this time to the left side while raising your left knee.
Level up this exercise by squeezing your elbows in as you push down, then by rotating your torso so your right elbow touches your left knee, and vice versa.
3. Overhead Side Bend:
Work your oblique muscles with this exercise. Start with the dumbbell in your right hand, and drop your arm straight down the side.
Bend your torso laterally toward the right side, careful to keep your right arm straight down. Only your torso should be bending; make sure your hips and legs are steady. Simultaneously, raise your left hand overhead as you bend to the right. Do the same procedure with the left side.
Another, more difficult variation of this exercise is to hold the dumbbell straight overhead with the left hand and your right hand on your hip. Bend to the right, keeping the left arm straight as you move toward the left. Once you feel the tightness in your external obliques, return to the starting position. Alternate between arms.
4. Straight Arm Climb:
Hold a dumbbell in each hand, and lie down on the floor, facing up. Extend your arms straight above, keeping a 90-degree angle with the floor and palms facing away from your head.
Next, lift your neck and head off the floor, and look up to the ceiling. Lift your right arm up together with your head and right shoulder blade. Then quickly lower your right shoulder, and do the same with the left arm and left shoulder.
5. Dumbbell Row:
With feet apart and knees slightly bent, lean forward with your torso. Make sure your back is straight. Hold the dumbbell with your right hand, palm toward your torso, and let your arm hang straight down. Place your left hand behind your back.
Pull up the dumbbell to the side of your chest. Only the arms should move during this maneuver; keep the torso steady. Your upper arm should be kept close to your side. Then lower the weight back down to the starting position.
6. Plank Pull Through:
Planks are a popular type of workout that really strengthens your core. This exercise combines the effectiveness of planks with the bonus resistance training of a dumbbell, so your abs get a total workout.
To begin, assume a full plank position—straight body, elbows under the shoulders, hands shoulder-width apart. Look down on the floor, not up or forward. Then straighten your arms as if you’ll be doing push-ups.
Your dumbbell should be a few inches off to the side of your right hand. Slowly reach for the dumbbell with your left hand behind the right, taking care to engage your core so your torso remains steady. Once you have the dumbbell in your left hand, pull it across to your left side. Release it just outside your left arm then return to the plank position. Do the same with the right arm.
7. Dumbbell Hot-Potato Squat:
This exercise actually engages several large muscle groups and works your abs from different angles.
To do this workout, stand straight with the dumbbell in your right hand in the racked position. Keep your elbow bent, and make sure the end of the dumbbell is just above your shoulder. The left hand should be in a similar position, just without a dumbbell.
Squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor, keeping your upper body steady. Then quickly pop up to a standing position while you toss the dumbbell to your left hand in front of your face, just like a hot potato.
8. Dumbbell Overhead Walking Lunge:
While lunges are a pretty common exercise, they don’t really work out your ab muscles. Adding dumbbells to your lunges makes this exercise great for your core.
Grab two dumbbells, and raise them over your head, keeping your arms straight. Press the dumbbells together with your palms facing each other. Maintain a good posture; shoulders down, back straight.
Perform a lunge with your arms straight above you. Step forward, get into a lunge position, then bring the back leg forward to keep both feet together. Do the same with the other leg, alternating them as you move forward.
9. Dumbbell Ground and Pound:
Kneel on a mat, keeping your upper body straight and upright. Grab a dumbbell with the right hand, holding it next to your face. Make a fist with your left hand, and protect your face.
Punch downwards with the right hand toward the left side; keep the left hand near your face. Don’t let the dumbbell touch the ground, and be sure to rotate your torso when you punch. Raise your right arm back up to the starting position, and repeat. Switch hands to engage the other side of your core. Keep your eyes down throughout this exercise.
10. Dumbbell swing:
For some people, this exercise is usually performed with a kettlebell, but you can also do this with a dumbbell.
Stand straight, then bend at your hips. Grab a dumbbell with both hands, palms facing inward. Swing your arms toward the back, hiking the dumbbell between your legs as if you’re a football player about to pass the ball behind you.
Squeezing your glutes, thrust your hips forward with a good amount of force while you swing the dumbbell up until shoulder height. Bring the weight back down, and repeat.