Fitness Tips

The Super Simple Trick That Will Turn Core Exercises Into a Full-On Cardio Workout

Zoe Weiner

Photo: Getty Images/AlexeySulima
I‘m going to be honest: I’m constantly looking to cut corners with my workouts. My goal has always been to get as much bang for my buck in as little time as possible, which is why full-body moves and HIIT routines have long been my go-tos. So imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered that you could turn any core move into a double-duty cardio burner by simply adding weights.

Yup—repurposing you crunches as strength-building and heart-rate spiking is as simple as picking up a set of dumbbells. The reason behind it, according to celebrity trainer Lacey Stone, is pretty simple: “Adding dumbbells makes the moves more challenging which will raise your heart rate,” she says.

Wonder how this is the case? “Adding the external load changes the dynamic and difficulty of the exercise, and the heart rate correspondingly increases due to this variable change,” says Christopher Lang, the fitness manager of Crunch Gym in Los Angeles. “Adding weights creates a situation in which the heart rate has to increase in order to oxygenate the working muscles via increased blood flow.”

So the next time you drop down into a set of sit-ups, grab a set of light weights (one to three pounds should do the trick), hold it behind your head, and consider the boxes for “core” and “cardio” workout checked off for the day. For something a little more exciting? Try one of the weighted cardio abs workout moves below.

1. Weighted toe-touches

Hit the entirety of your abs (and work up a serious sweat)  with this weighted move, which takes traditional toe-touches to a whole new level. Lie flat on the ground while holding a dumbbell over your head, and simultaneously raise your legs and upper body as if you’re trying to touch the weight to your toes. Keep your legs straight and try to get your head and shoulders off of the ground, but be sure to glue your lower back to the floor so that you’re working from your abs and not your neck.

2. Weighted side plank

Up the impact of your traditional side plank by holding a weight in your top arm and extending it high over your head. To make things even more challenging, switch from one side to the other every 10 seconds, swapping the weight as you move.

3. Russian Twist with a medicine ball

Russian Twists are known for burning out your obliques, and you can kick things up by integrating additional weight. Hold a dumbbell or weighted ball at your chest, and try to touch it to the ground as you rotate your body from side to side.

4. Dumbbell Woodchops

Add weight into your standing abs routine with dumbbell woodchops, in which you’ll literally use a dumbbell to mimic the act of chopping wood. This move hits your obliques and lower abs as well as your upper body, and is sure to leave your heart pounding.

6. Low Plank weight transfer

If you’re bored of basic planks, this version is just what you need. In an elbow plank, place a weight in between your hands. Use one hand at a time to drag the weight across your body, alternating between sides. You’ll feel this one in your core and your abs, and because this is a cardio abs workout, in how fast your heart is beating by the end.

For another weighted series that’s sure to spike your heart rate, follow along with the workout below. 

Oh hi! You look like someone who loves free workouts, discounts for cult-fave wellness brands, and exclusive Well+Good content. Sign up for Well+, our online community of wellness insiders, and unlock your rewards instantly.

Loading More Posts...