6 Weighted Abs Exercises for a Strong, Sculpted Core

Strong abs can improve your overall fitness in more ways than you can count. Oh, and they can also build you a six-pack.

While it's safe to say that most trainers are going to have amazing bodies, some are admittedly known for their sculpted arms, their tight butt, or, in celebrity trainer Astrid Swan's case, rock-hard, defined abs.

Whether you dream of having a six-pack or simply want to improve your core strength for better planks and less back pain (with you 100 percent), Swan's abs exercises will help you get there. Here, she demos some of her favorite core moves that she works into her own routine. And it's safe to say they work.

What you'll need: An 8- to 10-pound dumbbell

How it works: You'll move through each exercise, completing the allotted number of reps. When you reach the end of the circuit, you'll start from the top. Complete a total of 3 rounds.

Shot Put

A. Stand with feet hip-distance apart, holding dumbbell in right hand.

B. Bend knees slightly, twist body to right, and bring weight back behind right hip.

C. Reverse the twist and come to standing as you punch or throw right arm up and forward, as if throwing a shot put.

Reps: 15 on each side

Windmill to Oblique Crunch

A. Stand with feet hip-distance apart, all 10 toes pointed toward left corner, and dumbbell in right hand.

B. Stick right hip out, extend straight right arm above head but in front of the shoulder. Look up at dumbbell as you stretch left hand down to floor inside your left leg (think: reverse triangle in yoga). Both legs should remain straight.

C. Let weight lead you back up to starting position. Bring right elbow down as you bring right knee up and to the side, performing a standing oblique crunch.

D. Return right foot to floor and repeat movement pattern.

Reps: 15 on each side

Jackknife Split

A. Lie on back with legs together and extended long, arms stretched long behind head, holding the dumbbell in both hands.

B. Use core strength to lift upper body and lower body into V-up position with body balancing on tailbone, chopping dumbbell through the center.

Reps: 20

Pass the Weight

A. Lie on back with legs extended, left hand at side, and right hand holding dumbbell straight up.

B. Sit up, leading the weight up in the air, reaching and placing it next to left foot.

C. Roll back down to starting position, then sit up, then again reach for and grab the weight.

Reps: 20 on each side

Extended Bicycles

A. Lie on your back with hands under lower back or, to make it harder, clasped loosely behind head with elbows out. Lift head, neck, and shoulders up off mat (they remain lifted throughout exercise).

B. Bend knees to table-top position, roll hips up, then shoot right leg out like you would if performing a bicycle.

C. Return right leg to table top, then repeat extension on left side.

Reps: 15 on each side

Windshield Wiper

A. Lie on back with legs extended and arms down by your sides.

B. Lift both legs up, keeping them straight and together directly over hips.

C. Lift hips up, pivot to right, then drop hips to right. Lift hips, then pivot up and over to left side, dropping hips.

Reps: 20 (1 left + 1 right = 1 rep)

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