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6 Benefits of Weighted Ab Workouts

Whether you’re brand new to working out or you have a long-time love for the gym, there’s one muscle group of your body that can make or break your fitness abilities—your core. A strong core is the foundation of balance and stability, and it can help you build muscle mass more efficiently and mitigate possible injuries. 

Whether you like morning or evening workout, heavy strength training or light weights, working on your core is important. And one of the best ways to strengthen your core muscles is through weighted abs exercises. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the benefits of weighted ab workouts and share some of our favorite exercises for you to try.

#1 Improved Muscle Mass

One benefit of ab workout is improved muscle mass. If you want to see those defined abs, weighted moves are the way to go—adding weight to your core workouts can help you build muscle mass. A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research compared the effects of high and low resistance strength training and discovered the following:1 

Lower loads with higher repetitions produced greater muscle mass
Fewer repetitions at higher weight also increased muscle mass
Higher weights also increased strength

Essentially, adding weight to your ab exercises can help to build muscle mass and tone your abs. Heavier weights are more effective at increasing strength. However, lighter weight and high reps are an excellent way to get started if you’re a beginner to ab workouts, and you can add more resistance as you grow stronger.

#2 Increased Core Strength

It comes as no surprise that a weighted ab exercise helps increase the strength of your core, which can benefit your overall fitness. A strong core is also advantageous beyond the gym: Research shows that core strength is an important factor in reducing the risk of lower back pain.2 A stronger core and pain-free back mean you’ll likely have:

Better posture
An easier time performing daily activities
Improvement in athletic endeavors

So, don’t skip those weighted core exercises—they’ll pay off in many ways both in and out of the gym.

#3 Better Stability and Balance

Picture a spinning top—you give it a whirl and it wobbles from side to side. If your core muscle is weak, you may find yourself doing the same. That’s because your core doesn’t perform solo—it works in conjunction with your hips, pelvis, and lower back to keep you upright and stable. 

A strong core can help prevent wobbles by improving your stability and balance. This is especially beneficial when at the gym. When you’re performing exercises, it’s critical to maintain proper form and balance to target the proper muscle groups and avoid injury. 

#4 Enhanced Flexibility

If you’ve ever performed a yoga routine, you know how critical it is to engage and control your core muscle to maintain each posture. To that end, weighted ab workouts can help to strengthen your core and improve the flexibility of your hips and pelvis for full-body strength. 

Better flexibility is linked to:3

Improved posture
Enhanced balance
Fewer injuries
Better athletic performance

If you see a trend here, you’re correct. All of these aspects of fitness are connected. Adding weights to your core routine improves strength, which in turn improves flexibility, leading to better overall health and performance.

#5  Reduced Injury Risk

When your core is made stronger with weighted ab workouts, you have better balance, flexibility, and muscle stability. To better understand why this is important, think about your car’s tires. When your car is properly balanced, the tires wear evenly. When something is off, one tire may wear more rapidly than the others, causing problems for your vehicle.

Your body is similar—your core doesn’t work alone, and when it’s strong, the rest of your body can rely on it to provide balance and stability and reduce one-sided wear and tear. This lessens the likelihood that you’ll suffer from unwanted injuries from the unbalanced use of one part or one side of your body.

#6 Improved Athletic Performance

Lastly, a stronger, more flexible, and better-balanced body will perform better athletically. A strong core is critical for athletes of all types, including:

Runners
Cyclists
Swimmers
Yogis
Weight lifters
Team sport performers

Whether you’re new to working out or you’re a competitive marathoner, adding weighted exercises to your core exercise routine can help you reach your fitness goals across the board.

What Are the Best Weighted Ab Exercises?

Weighted ab workouts can be quite challenging, but the benefits make them well worth it. While there are countless exercises you can perform, we’ve narrowed it down to our 5 favorites which can also be found on our iChuze app for better visualization. These moves will help to target your entire core, including:

Upper abdominals
Lower abdominals
Obliques

#1 Weighted Plate Crunches

Crunches are the bread and butter of core work. They are excellent for targeting your upper abs and, when you add a little weight, they can help to define that six-pack you’ve been working toward. To perform weighted plate crunches, you should:

Select a weight plate that is challenging but not too heavy to lift
Lie on your back with the weight plate in your hands
Bend your knees at a 90-degree angle, lifting your feet off of the floor
Extend your arms straight above your chest
Engage your core and lift your entire torso off of the floor
Hold for several seconds and then release
Repeat for up to 20 reps, keeping your arms straight and knees bent

As you increase your strength, you’ll be able to complete more reps or use a heavier weight plate.

#2 Weighted Leg Raise Crunches

Next, you should work on your lower abdominal muscles. We love laying dumbbell leg raises to strengthen those hard-to-reach muscles. To perform this core exercise, you will:

Select a dumbbell that isn’t too heavy
Lie on your back on an exercise mat with the dumbbell between your ankles
Engage your core 
Keep your legs straight and lift them as high as you can
Slowly lower your legs back to the mat and repeat
Make sure you keep your back, shoulders, and hips in contact with the floor throughout

You should feel your core working as you lift and lower your legs.

#3 Weighted Russian Twist

You should also work on strengthening the oblique muscles. These are the muscles running along the side of your abs. To strengthen the obliques, we love the weighted Russian twist abs workout. This is an easy to perform move in which you:

Use a weight plate, dumbbell, or kettlebell
Sit on your mat holding the weight in front of you
Bend your elbows and pull the weight in toward your stomach
Lift your feet slightly off the ground
Engage your core and twist your entire torso to the left, then the right

You’ll need to fully engage your core to remain upright and keep your feet from touching the floor throughout the exercise.

#4 Weighted Plank

Want to work your entire core with one move? Try a weighted plank. You’ll need a weight plate and a friend to help you get into position:

Get into a plank  position—either forearm or fully upright
Engage your core to balance your body
Have your friend or trainer gently place the weight plate on your lower back
Hold the plank as long as you can
Have your partner remove the plate before lowering your body to the floor

This ab exercise adds a little more difficulty to a standard plank.

#5 Dumbbell Plank Row

Another weighted ab workout that helps strengthen your entire core (with a bonus arm and shoulder boost) is a dumbbell plank row. To perform this move:

Gather a pair of dumbbells at a challenging (but not maximum) weight
Place the dumbbells under your shoulders and get into a plank position
Fully engage your core
Alternate lifting each dumbbell, bringing your elbow to your ribcage

The key to performing a plank row is to keep that core working the whole time. This will keep you balanced and stable as you lift the dumbbells.

How Often Should You Perform Weighted Ab Exercises?

The CDC recommends that adults work on strengthening the major muscle groups, abs included, at least twice per week.4 The amount of core work you’ll be able to do during each of those sessions depends on two key factors:

Your overall fitness level
Your fitness goals

If you’re just starting your fitness journey, you might need to begin with lighter weights or fewer repetitions. Over time, you’ll get stronger and be able to do more. Finding the right core workout for your body is important to building a stronger core. 

Build a Strong Core at Chuze Fitness

Adding weights to your ab workout routine can help to strengthen and tone your core muscles. And your future workouts will benefit from the added muscle mass, strength, stability, and flexibility, whether you’re going for 6-pack abs or building a stronger core. 

If you’re unsure where to begin strengthening your core, Chuze Fitness is here to help. We offer a wide range of group exercise classes, team training, free weights, and more to help you achieve your fitness goals. Discover more exercises from TRX workouts to HIIT and more. Check out one of our locations today to see how we can help you build a stronger foundation in all things fitness. 

Sources: 

PubMed. Effects of Low vs High Load Resistance Training on Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25853914/
PubMed. Optimizing Performance by Improving Core Stability and Strength. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19026017/
Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. The Recommended Quantity and Quality of Exercise for Developing and Maintaining Cardiorespiratory and Muscular Fitness and Flexibility. https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/1998/06000/ACSM_Position_Stand__The_Recommended_Quantity_and.32.aspx
CDC. How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need? https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm

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