Weighted ab exercises: Fitness trainers answer the most googled questions about core workouts

Posted by for Strong Women

What are the best weighted core exercises? Strong Women ambassadors have the answers to your core-related questions. 

Adding on an extra plate to our squats or swinging an extra few kgs worth of kettlebell always feels empowering. It’s a reminder that we are always stronger than we think, and that there’s always an extra rep or an extra weight that our body is willing to squeeze out. 

When it comes to ab training, bodyweight core work just about writes us off. Adding in weights seems like a pretty big challenge. But, if it’s beneficial, we’re here for it, and want to know how. 

Each week, Stylist’s Strong Women ambassadors answer some of the most asked questions from women who want to get into lifting. Today, they’re explaining how to do weight training. 

Why should you add weights to ab workouts?

ALICE MILLER, STRONG WOMEN AMBASSADOR

“You add weights to make things harder. Adding in resistance will make it tougher for you to keep steady through the movements. However, with ab training, often the most basic things are the best, and it’s really important to master those before we try and add load. For example, if you can’t do a plank without your hips moving from side to side, you aren’t really working your core. Adding in stability first is important before progressing to weights.”

CAROLINE BRAGG, STRONG WOMEN AMBASSADOR

“The way to build muscle is to progressively overload your body. After a while of doing bodyweight training, your body will adapt and you will stop seeing the kind of results that you were looking for.

“The most important thing is that you are keeping your form correct. Often when people add in weights, they make the right shapes but they’re not actually working, because they’re just throwing the weights around. Focusing on stability is more important than shifting a 10 kg plate.”

Weighted ab training: Strong Women ambassadors do weighted twists
Weighted ab training: Strong Women ambassadors do weighted twists

What equipment do you need to do weighted ab exercises?

ALICE MILLER, STRONG WOMEN AMBASSADOR

“Anything that adds resistance. So you can use a band, a kettlebell or a dumbell.”

CAROLINE BRAGG, STRONG WOMEN AMBASSADOR

“You can add load to the body by increasing the time under tension, so holding moves for longer or by making things slower. You can also use different positions, so maybe elevating a different body part. Or, you can add in actual weights. When it comes to your core, I would always do the other things first, then add weights as the final step.”

What are the best weighted ab exercises?

ALICE MILLER, STRONG WOMEN AMBASSADOR

“One of my favourite moves to add weight to is a farmers carry. With that, you hold a heavy weight on one side, and you have to keep our shoulders back and down while we walk. The obliques have got to work overtime to stop you from tipping over. 

“The pallof press is great to do if you only have a resistance band at home as it will require your core to resist against twisting. Then you can also add weights into deadbugs, Russian twists and planks for extra resistance.” 

CAROLINE BRAGG, STRONG WOMEN AMBASSADOR

“I like kettlebell drags, which is where you’re in a plank and you pull a weight underneath your chest from side to side. That adds extra resistance against the floor, and you’re having to really engage your core by not twisting your hips at all.

“Adding a weight into Russian twists is also great, but I wouldn’t go super heavy because you’re rotating through the spine. You can also lift the legs to make this move a little bit harder, as long as your hips are going all over the place.”

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Images: Sarah Brick

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