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You Can Do These Effective Ab Exercises Standing Up

If you’re on the quest for a rock hard six-pack, you’ll quickly get sick of the same old crunches. Luckily, there are other ab exercises that will prompt your six-pack out of hiding. If you’ve never considered working out your core while standing, it’s about time you do. Keep in mind that with standing abdominal exercises, your posture is everything. Don’t hunch, and focus on activating your core before you begin and throughout each exercise. Standing ab exercises are about to become your favorite go-to workout.

1. Frankenstein kick

Try these high kicks for killer abs. | iStock.com

Start standing tall with your back straight and your feet together. Bring your arms straight out in front of your body at chest height. Tighten your core and then begin by kicking up your right leg until your toes touch the tips of your fingers — or as high as it can go without bending your hips. Do this for 30 straight seconds, rest for 30 seconds, and repeat on the opposite side. Repeat the set four times.

2. Standing bicycle

You’ll be powering through this move as if you’re really on a bike. | iStock.com

Rather than doing traditional bicycles on your back, do a similar variation while standing. Start with your feet together and your hands behind your head. Brace your abs in tight and lift your left knee up as your right shoulder rotates toward the knee. Your goal is to touch your elbow to knee. Lower back down and perform 20 reps before repeating on the other side.

3. Wide side crunch

This is a full-body move that works your core. | iStock.com

Grab two dumbbells and start by standing with your feet wider than hip-width. Turn your toes slightly outward and lower your body into a wide squat, making sure you squeeze your glutes, bend your knees, and keep your hips aligned with your core (don’t stick out your butt). When you’re in a deep squat, raise your arms into a goalpost position with your elbows bent to 90 degrees. Engage your core and bend your upper body to the right so you can touch your elbow to your thigh. Perform 10 reps on each side and then alternate back and forth for an additional 20 reps.

4. Dumbbell side bends

Side bends are great for your obliques. | iStock.com

Grab a couple of dumbbells (or even two full water bottles) and stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart. Your arms will be down at your sides palms facing in. Bring your shoulders back, tighten your core, and slowly, with control, lean to the right, going as far as you are able without bending your torso forward. Come back to standing and repeat for a total of 10 reps before switching sides.

5. Tuck jumps

This power move is tough and effective. | iStock.com/Ammentorp Photography

This exercise will not only tighten and engage your stomach but will get your heart rate pumping and off some extra calories. Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Extend both arms straight out in front of you. Then, bend your knees and jump up, bringing your knees toward your chest. Land with your knees bent to soften the impact, straighten your legs, and repeat for a full 30 seconds followed by 30 seconds of rest. To complete a full circuit, repeat this exercise four times.

6. Overhead circles with a medicine ball

Use the medicine ball to your advantage. | iStock.com/OSTILL

This move hits the entire front of your core as well as your obliques, shoulders, and upper back, so don’t be surprised if you’re a little sore the next day. Start with your feet hip-width apart and your spine in a neutral position. Then, raise a medicine ball (five to eight pounds should be enough) over your head, keeping a slight bend in your elbows. Make large circles to the right eight times while keeping your torso still. Then, switch directions to the left.

7. Wood chop with dumbbell

You’ll be chopping some wood with a dumbbell. | iStock.com

This exercise is as simple as it sounds — you are going to hold onto a dumbbell and mimic chopping wood. Except, unlike your average wood chop, you’ll be targeting your core and getting a lower body workout in as well.

Stand with your feet hip-width apart for a good base, keeping your spine neutral. Holding your dumbbell with both hands, crouch until your thighs are parallel to the floor and your dumbbell is held just below your right knee. Lift up straightening both your legs and back, while simultaneously swinging the dumbbell over your left shoulder. Return to the crouched position for one repetition. Do 10-15 reps before switching sides.

8. Bow extension

Get ready to feel the burn. | iStock.com/fizkes

Start with your feet hip-width apart and your posture upright, holding a dumbbell up over your right shoulder with straight arms. In one movement, pull the dumbbell down into your abdominal region while bending your left leg up to meet the dumbbell. as this YouTube video explains, bringing your knee up into your abs and holding it there is a big part of working your abs. Try 15-20 repetitions, then switch sides.

6 Ab Exercises to Do While Standing

The trainer Alwyn Cosgrove, owner of Results Fitness in Newhall, California, developed these on-your-feet firmers. His theory: “The abdominals are spinal stabilizers, so they respond better to work done standing versus lying down. On your back, the spine is supported, taking the workload off the abs.”

The plan: Start by working three or four of these moves into your regimen no more than three times a week to avoid overuse. In two weeks, try the entire routine at once. You won’t feel a burn as you do with crunches, so complete only 10 reps per set to prevent injury. Rest for one minute between sets. You’ll need a 3- to 10-pound weight.

Technique tips: Take it slowly. “Performing each exercise in a deliberate and controlled manner will maximize effectiveness,” Cosgrove explains. A pacing trick: Count one beat for each phase of the movement. “Allow your abs, not your other muscles, to do most of the work,” he says.

Side Reach

Stand with feet together, holding ends of one dumbbell with both hands, arms extended overhead. Slowly lean to left and hold for one count. Return to start. Repeat on right side to complete one rep. Do 10 reps.
WORKS ABS, OBLIQUES

Reverse Wood Chop

Stand with feet wider than hip-width apart, one dumbbell in both hands. Lower weight toward left foot and crouch, lifting right heel. Stand, rotate torso right and bring weight across body on a diagonal overhead. Reverse motion to return to crouching on left. Do 10 reps; switch sides; repeat.
WORKS ABS, SHOULDERS, BUTT, THIGHS

Standing Bicycle

Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, hands clasped behind head and elbows pointed out to sides. Straighten left leg as you lift right leg, knee bent, thigh parallel to floor. Keeping knee lifted and steady, twist torso toward right. Return to start. Repeat on other side for one rep. Do 10 reps.
WORKS ABS, OBLIQUES

Side Winder

Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, hands clasped behind head and elbows pointed out to sides. Lift right leg to side, knee bent, thigh parallel to floor. Keeping knee lifted, bend torso to right side, bringing elbow and knee toward each other. Do 10 reps; switch sides; repeat.
WORKS ABS, OBLIQUES

Seesaw

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, hands on hips. Lift right leg, knee bent, thigh parallel to floor with foot flexed. Straighten right leg, pressing heel toward floor, as you lean torso backward. Return to knee lift position and repeat five times. Switch sides and repeat.

WORKS ABS, BUTT, THIGHS

Forward Bend

Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, arms overhead with palms facing in. Lift right leg, knee bent, thigh parallel to floor. Keeping knee lifted and arms raised, bring torso and knee toward each other as close as you can. Return to start; switch sides and repeat for one rep. Do 10 reps.
WORKS ABS

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11 Standing Ab Exercises To Tone Your Tummy

Tone and strengthen your tummy anywhere with these easy standing ab exercises! The added benefits? Improved balance, better posture, and no workout mat needed.

Having a strong core is non-negotiable if you take your physical health seriously.

The core muscles support the spine, brace the organs, improve posture, and (when properly conditioned) enable safe, efficient movement for the entire body. Think of the core as your body’s central engine (the pilot behind functional movement).

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Grab our FREE Beginners Workout Guide – 3 Weeks To Tighter Abs, Sculpted Arms, And Toned Legs, by clicking here!

There are many ways to strengthen your core. (We talked about some here, here, and here.) But there may be one technique you haven’t tried: standing ab exercises!

How Can You Tone Your Abs while Standing?

Traditionally, abdominal exercises are done from a supine position (lying on your back), or on the hands and knees (as you would do in plank). But working your core from standing can be more functional and effective.

Standing ab work increases the challenge of traditional abdominal exercises by adding gravity and balance into the mix. The core will have to work harder to maintain a neutral position. The spine’s happy place is neutral—where the core is gently activated, and the body as a whole stays comfortably aligned. These exercises also resemble the way you move your body throughout the day.

Consider that you spend more time standing, walking, and sitting with an erect spine than you do lying down. So it makes sense to strengthen the abs and stabilize the core from a standing position. This method is a functional, effective way to improve strength and mobility for everyday activities.

The Benefits of Standing Ab Exercises

In addition to the points above, standing ab exercises get a gold star for a couple of other reasons:

Strengthens the Psoas Muscle

The psoas (hip flexor muscles) link the core to the pelvis and legs. Our modern lifestyles (read: sitting or being sedentary for too long) have led to these muscles being underused and weak. As you’ll see in the standing ab exercises below, lifting your knee past 90º will strengthen the psoas, which can improve core activation and reduce lower back pain.

Activates the Entire Core

Imagine that your core is a cylinder with a lid and a base. You’ve got abs at the front (rectus abdominis) and sides (internal & external obliques), core back muscles (erector spinae), a “lid” (the diaphragm), a “base” (pelvic floor), and the deepest muscles in the center (transversis abdominis and quadratus lumborum).

Doing traditional ab exercises on your back (such as crunches) makes it challenging to engage all of these muscles. However, training your abs from a standing position gives you more space and range of motion to feel the entire trunk working together.

Reduces Neck and Back Tension

Standing ab work may be better-suited for anyone who has neck or upper back tension—as you won’t be pulling your head up against gravity.

Finally, it’s nice to know that you can complete a great ab workout without needing an exercise mat, or having to get down onto the floor! You can literally do these standing ab exercises anywhere (including your office or a hotel room).

11 Standing Ab Exercises to Tone Your Tummy

To get the most out of this workout, try the following exercises in order. Light weights are optional, and they’ll increase the challenge of this workout.

Don’t forget to have fun!

Standing Side Bend | 5 Reps Per Side

Start by standing with your feet together. Hold a light dumbbell in each hand. INHALE and bend your waist to the right side. EXHALE and return to an upright position. Repeat on the left side. Do 5 repetitions per side.

Tip: Keep your shoulders and hips square to the front as you laterally bend. Imagine that your torso is stuck between two panes of glass at the front and back.

The Windmill | 10 Reps Per Side

Start by standing with the feet wide and the arms reaching straight down in front of the pelvis. Hold a pair of light dumbbells in your hands. EXHALE and bend both knees to 90º. Sweep the right arm forward (straight overhead) and look up. INHALE and return to the starting position. Alternate sides for a total of 10 repetitions on either side.

Spine Twist | 10 Reps

Start by standing with the feet together. Take the arms straight out to the side in a letter ‘T’. Keep the hips and knees still as you INHALE. Rotate the spine to the right side and look to the right. EXHALE and return to center. INHALE and rotate to the left side. EXHALE and return to center. That’s one repetition.

Knee Lifts | 10 Reps

Start by standing with your feet together and hands behind your head. Keeping the spine erect, EXHALE and lift one knee to 90º. INHALE and return the foot to the floor. EXHALE and lift the opposite knee to 90º. INHALE and return the foot to the floor. That’s one repetition.

Rotations | 10 Reps Per Side

Start by standing with your feet together and hands behind your head. EXHALE and lift the right knee as you did for Knee Lifts. Then rotate the spine to the right side. INHALE and return to the starting position. Alternate sides for a total of 10 repetitions on either side.

Standing Cat & Cow | 10 Reps

Start by standing with your feet together and arms down by your sides. EXHALE and bend the knees, round the spine, and sweep the arms forward. INHALE, stand up, squeeze the backside, extend the spine, and reach the arms behind the hips. That’s one repetition.

Cross Body Toe Touches | 10 Reps Per Side

Start by standing with the feet together and the arms down by the sides. EXHALE, lift the right leg up to hip height, and reach the left arm across the body (towards the right toes). INHALE and return to the starting position. Alternate sides for a total of 10 repetitions on either side.

Tip: For tight hamstrings, you may need to bend the knee. Don’t try and touch the foot if you have to round the back to do so. Just reach in that general direction.

Chair Pose Twist | 10 Reps

Start with the feet together and the knees deeply bent. The weight is in the heel of the foot, and the palms press together in front of the chest. INHALE and prepare the body. EXHALE, twist to the right side, and reach the left elbow past the right outer thigh. INHALE and return to center. EXHALE and twist to the left side. INHALE and return to center. That’s one repetition.

Wood Chop | 10 Reps Per Side

Start by standing with the feet hip-distance apart. Hold a light weight in either hand, with your arms down by your sides. EXHALE, pivot (the body, arms, legs and feet) to the right, sweep the arms UP over the shoulders, and rotate the spine to the right. INHALE, sweep the arms down, and pivot to the left side (as the arms reach DOWN past the left thigh). That’s one repetition.

Repeat 10 times on this side, then switch directions.

Plie Side Bend | 10 Reps Per Side

Start by standing with the feet wide and the knees bent at 90º. Hold one or two light weights in your right hand, and place the left hand behind the head. INHALE and bend your waist to the right side. EXHALE and return to an upright position. That’s one repetition.

Repeat 10 on this side, then switch to the left.

Tip: Keep your shoulders and hips square to the front as you laterally bend. It’s as if your torso is stuck between two panes of glass at the front and back.

Scoop & Reach | 10 Reps Per Side

Start by standing on the left foot with the right knee lifted to hip height. The elbows are bent into the waist, and the hands are holding a pair of light weights (optional). EXHALE, bend the left knee, round the spine, sweep the arms forward, and extend the right leg straight ahead. INHALE and slowly return to the starting position. That’s one repetition.

Repeat 10 times on this side, then switch to the left.

Tip: To help lift the extended leg and support the low back, scoop your low abs in and up.

(You’ll Also Love: The Ultimate 30-Minute Gut & Butt Workout)

5 Ways To Work Your Core While Standing

Sometimes getting on the ground to do planks, crunches, or other ab exercises just isn’t fun or possible—like when winter leaves the ground grubby. But you don’t have to hit the floor to get the strong, stable core you need to walk stronger, run faster, or simply function better in everyday life, says New York City personal trainer Kristian Flores, founder of Kaizen Kinetics. In fact, standing ab exercises can be more helpful than on-the-floor moves at improving everything you do in a standing position, from boxing to tennis to golf to carrying your kids.

“The key is to be unstable,” says Flores. “By taking one foot off the ground, your core muscles—and that’s not just your abs—gets challenged.” That’s because the additional stress placed on your core means it has to work harder to stay contracted and stabilize when you move around on one foot, as you’ll discover with the moves below.

5 Must-Do Standing Ab Exercises

These exercises will give your core the strength, stability, and mobility you need to stay fit and healthy. Flores recommends doing two sets before your usual walking or running routine and one set after. Not only can standing ab exercises aid your warmup and cooldown, but by incorporating them into your workout, you may be more likely to get your core training done.

“At the end of a workout, you’re tired and don’t want to do any more,” says Flores. “If you run through these moves first, you’ll have an important part of your work already done before your walk or run. Then, use them as a cool down to close.”

Single-Leg Balance with Running Arms
Your core is what keeps you stable here. Challenge it by moving your arms quickly.

Directions:
1. Stand up straight, abs engaged. Lift your right knee in front of you to hip height.
2. Without letting your ribs overextend, move your arms like you’re running for 30 seconds, keeping your balance.
3. Switch legs and repeat.

Oblique Crossover Knee Raise
The oblique and erector spinae muscles along the sides and back of your core help you generate locomotion, and the ones in front stabilize that movement so you move efficiently. This exercise helps train those functions.

Directions:
1. Stand up straight with your hands behind your head, fingers touching but not interlocking.
2. Bring your left knee toward your right elbow, twisting your torso to the left (you should be able to see the side of the room). The higher your knee, the better; avoid dipping your torso too far forward. Return to center.
3. Repeat bringing your right knee toward your left elbow, twisting your torso to the right. That’s one rep.
4. Do 15 to 20 reps. If you have time, do two sets.

Windmills
To open up your hips and build core strength and stability, these windmills can’t be beat. Want extra training? Hold a weight in the hand that reaches to the ceiling.

Directions:
1. Stand up straight, feet wider than shoulder width.
2. Turn your right foot out toward the right wall, so it’s pointing at about 45 degrees.
3. Raise your left arm to the ceiling and stretch your right arm toward the floor while pushing your left hip out toward the left wall.
4. Keeping most of your weight on the left leg, tilt your torso down to the right, stretching your arms away from each other. Squeeze your glutes and return to standing, exhaling on the way up so you finish with empty lungs and a tightened midsection.
5. Do 10 reps and repeat on the other side.

Single-Leg Deadlift with Side Arms
This challenging unilateral exercise forces your core to stabilize to prevent unwanted rotation while engaging your entire body.

Directions:
1. Stand up straight, engaging your abs and glutes, knees slightly bent.
2. Extend your right leg back, toes pointing down, and let your chest dip forward until your right leg and core are parallel with the floor and your arms are perpendicular to it.
3. Keeping your hip bones facing the floor, open up your left arm and reach it toward the side of the room—extra points if you can raise it higher toward the ceiling without letting your hips tilt. (Need an extra challenge? Look at your hand as you raise it to the side.) Return to center.
4. Do five reps and repeat on the other side. If you have time, do two sets.

Side Hop
Trail runners, take note: Master these, and they’ll help you glide over uneven surfaces. Side hops help your body learn to absorb the oscillation that happens on that type of terrain.

Directions:
1. Standing, bring your right knee up to hip height.
2. Hop as far as you can to the right, landing on your right foot and bringing your left knee up to hip height. Really “stick” the landing like a gymnast. Stay in that position until you’re stabilized.
3. When you have your balance, hop back to the left, landing on your left foot. That’s one rep.
4. Do two sets of 10 reps.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.

Marty Munson

Marty Munson is a long-time health and wellness editor who’s worked with properties on all platforms—from digital to magazines to books—including Marie Claire, Dr. Oz The Good Life, Real Simple, American Express, Weight Watchers, Triathlete and more. She’s a Level 1 USA Triathlon-certified coach and a US Master’s Swim coach. She has developed a marathon swimming habit and likes to swim around things, including Key West, Charleston, and Manhattan.

When you think about the muscles you use to power up hills or sprint to the line, your quads are probably the first that come to mind. Fair enough, since your legs are doing the pedaling. But your core is equally as important—if it weren’t for those stabilizing muscles, you wouldn’t even be able to maintain your position on the bike for as long as you do.

That’s why core stability exercises should be an essential part of your strength-training routine.

The Beginner’s Guide to Strength Training amazon.com $24.95

“Your core helps you control your body, assisting in your ability to use your arms and legs in doing essentially everything you can think of,” says Lindsey Clayton, instructor at Barry’s Bootcamp and cofounder of the Brave Body Project.

Strengthening your core will enhance your balance, she adds, which we all know is key to riding. “The term ‘core stability’ is simply your body’s ability to remain stable when a variable is added or taken away—for example, balancing on one leg in a plank or a football player bracing before impact,” Clayton says.

Since having core stability will significantly improve your performance, Clayton put together an eight-move workout that targets the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips, and abdomen.

How to do it: Move through the allotted amount of sets and reps of the exercises below, resting as needed.

  1. Bird Dog (3 sets of 8 reps on each side)
  2. Plank With Toe Tap (3 sets for 30 seconds)
  3. Bear Plank With Shoulder Tap (3 sets for 30 seconds)
  4. Woodchopper (2 sets of 12 reps on each side)
  5. Dead Bug (1 minute)
  6. Glute Bridge March (1 minute)
  7. Hollow Body Rock (3 sets for 30 seconds)
  8. Russian Twist (3 sets for 30 reps)

Bird Dog

Start on all fours, knees under hips and shoulders over wrists. Keeping back flat, extend right arm and left leg straight out. Draw right elbow and left knee toward each other, hovering just above the floor. Repeat on the other side, left arm and right leg.

Plank With Toe Tap

Start in a high plank position. Step right foot out to the side, then return to starting position. Then step left food out to the side and return to starting position. Continue to alternate.

Bear Plank With Shoulder Tap

Start on the floor on your hands and knees. Keeping your back flat and your butt down, lift your knees off the ground a few inches. Bring left arm across chest to tap right shoulder, then return to starting position. Then bring right arm across chest to tap left shoulder, then return to starting position. Continue to alternate.

Woodchopper

Start in a lunge position—right leg out in front—holding a dumbbell (weight of your choice) above your left shoulder with both hands. Then, forcefully bring the dumbbell diagonally down across your body so it’s now near your right knee. Bring the dumbbell diagonally back up across your body. Repeat on the other side (left leg out in front, dumbbell above right shoulder).

Dead Bug

Lie faceup with your arms extended toward the ceiling. With knees bent at 90 degrees, keep your shoulders down and feet flexed. Engage your core and extend your right arm and right leg away from you. Return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side (left arm and left leg).

Glute Bridge March

Lie faceup with knees bent and feet on floor. Engage glutes to send hips straight up into a glute bridge. Keeping knee bent, draw right foot up, then return to starting position. Repeat with left foot and continue to alternate.

Hollow Body Rock

Lie faceup with your legs straight, knees together, and toes pointed forward. Extend your arms past your head. Tighten your core while pressing your lower back into the floor. Move your hands and feet up, keep the legs and arms straight. Bring your chest and legs off the ground and rock forward and back without changing body position.

Russian Twist

Holding a dumbbell at your stomach, sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet off the floor. Lean back so that your torso and upper body are at a 45-degree angle. With elbows bent and hands grasping each side of the dumbbell, rotate your torso from one side to the other.

Danielle Zickl Associate Health & Fitness Editor Danielle specializes in interpreting and reporting the latest health research and also writes and edits in-depth service pieces about fitness, training, and nutrition.

When you’re on vacation, finding a decent spot to sweat should be the least of your concerns. There are tons of hotel room routines to get you moving, but if you don’t want to get down and dirty on that questionable carpet for a core crusher, there are moves that you can do on your feet.

Men’s Health/Eric Rosati

That’s the situation trainer Charlee Atkins, C.S.C.S., found herself on during a recent vacation. “I was itching to move, but not that much, so I went outside my Airbnb and just started moving,” she says. “I combined a few of these standing ab exercises into a mini-circuit and it did quite the trick.”

This routine didn’t just solve her inactivity problem. Opting to stay on her feet gave Atkins a different style of workout than she might have tried otherwise, with benefits that she would have passed up had she dropped down to the floor for core.

“Standing ab exercises are sneak attacks on the full body,” she says. “In traditional ab exercises you’re lying on the ground, but in this case since I was standing the workout itself turned into a great full-body warm-up.”

To perform this three-move standing abs circuit, just find some space wherever you are. All you need is yourself.

Bird-Dog Combo

  • Hinge at the hips to bend down, raising one leg straight behind you. While balancing on the planted leg, row one arm and then the other, keeping your spine straight. Repeat for time (30 to 45 seconds), then switch legs.

Standing Leg Raises

  • Reach your arms overhead. Kick up one leg, keeping it totally straight, as you crunch down to touch your toe with both hands. Repeat on the other side, then alternate for 30 to 45 seconds.

Squat + Knee-Up Twist

  • Perform a basic body weight squat. As you come up to standing, bring your opposite knee and elbow together to target the obliques. Repeat on the other side, then alternate for 30 to 45 seconds.

Run through the circuit three times, resting for 1 minute between each full repetition. Atkins recommends adding this routine to your dynamic warm-up on full body days, as a quick cardio push on days you’re traveling, or even at the end of your workout as a finisher.

Want to learn more moves from Atkins? Check out our series full of her workout tips, Try Her Move.

Brett Williams Brett Williams, an associate fitness editor at Men’s Health, is a former pro football player and tech reporter who splits his workout time between strength and conditioning training, martial arts, and running.

Ab workouts have always been a favorite of mine for one simple reason: You get to lie down on the mat while doing them. Even when they’re burning every single muscle in your torso, that makes it feel just a little better. But now that I’ve found out standing ab exercises are a thing, I might have to switch things up.

While you can certainly get in a great ab workout on the mat, there are some prime benefits to doing core exercises in a standing position. First of all, it makes everything more challenging. Since you’re working against gravity, you have to engage your abs on another level in order to do the movements without falling over. (Because of that, your balance can improve!) And according to ACE, standing instead of lying down is also a great way to avoid neck pain that often comes about in floor-based core work.

At this point, I don’t even have to tell you that standing abs are an all-around win. And before you get started, there’s only one rule to getting the most out of them.

“What better way to work your abs than from standing—and not on the dirty floor you’re too lazy to vacuum (or is it just me?),” Kaitlin Heaney Zuloaga, the certified personal trainer behind Trainer Kaitlin, wrote in an Instagram post. “In order to really get the most from these exercises, you need to learn how to engage your core. Think about pulling your belly button in and up, like someone is going to sucker punch you in the gut.”

Ready to try some standing ab exercise for yourself? From bicycles to windmills, one thing’s for sure: You’re going to be sore tomorrow.

Ditch the mat with super effective standing ab exercises

1. Standing bicycle crunch

  1. Stand with your hands behind your head, elbows out to your sides, and your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Twist your body as you bring your right elbow to your left knee, performing a crunch. Perform all your reps on one side before switching to the opposite side.

2. Dumbbell wood chop

  1. Start in a lunge position with both knees bent and a neutral spine.
  2. With a dumbbell in your hands and your chest facing downward, pivot to the opposite side, bringing your chest and arms upward in one swift motion. Return to your starting position and repeat.

3. Windmill abs

  1. With your feet wider than hip-width apart, turn both feet to 45 degrees.
  2. Drop your left hand on the inside of your left leg while raising your right hand.
  3. Slowly lower your left hand for three counts as you look up at your right hand. Bring your left hand back up and repeat.

4. Standing side crunch

  1. Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart with your toes pointed forward.
  2. With your hands hovering by the sides of your head and your chest up, crunch as you lower your left shoulder to meet your left knee.
  3. Hold position for two counts, then return to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side.

5. Medicine ball standing rotations

  1. Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
  2. Extend your arms forward, holding the medicine ball in front on your chest.
  3. Keeping your abs and butt tight, twist your torso from side to side, pivoting on your back foot.

6. Dumbbell side bends

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your left hand behind your head and your right holding a kettlebell or dumbbell by your side. Make sure your palm is facing you.
  2. Keeping a straight back, bend down to your right side as far as you can go, then return to your starting position and repeat. Perform on the opposite side.

7. Standing crunch

  1. Stand with both feet facing forward and a dumbbell in both hands over your head.
  2. Lift your right knee straight up to your chest as you bring the weight down to meet it.
  3. Return to your starting position and repeat on the other leg, alternating back and forth.

Up for a real challenge? Here’s how to get yourself into crow pose:

This Pilates ring workout will have your abs burning like crazy. But don’t forget about the other muscles in your core, too, with this guide on how to work every muscle in your torso.

Stand Up for Stand-Out Abs

Ewald Sadie

Put your mat away and give your neck a rest. “Standing abs exercises work more muscles than crunches” says Sara Haley, creator of The Daily Sweat workout DVDs and a Reebok Global Master Trainer in Santa Monica, CA. While sit-ups and crunches only work superficial surface muscles, standing moves strengthen deep core muscles that help stabilize you while running.

Get off the floor and upgrade your core workout with these 13 standing core exercises. For maximum results and varying resistance, include body weight, medicine ball, dumbbell, cable, and kettlebell moves.

Knee Cross Crunch

BETH BISCHOFF

The knee cross crunch hits your entire core—the upper, lower, and oblique muscles, says Joy Di Palma, certified trainer and owner of TrainerJoy and Core Conditioning CrossFit in Los Angeles. The move also requires balance and coordination, effectively working your entire body.

Double Arm Reach

BETH BISCHOFF

The double arm reach is a total-body exercise that strengthens abs, glutes, hamstrings, and quads. “The squat-to-reach action contracts and then lengthens muscles in one motion, working obliques in a functional pattern,” says Chelsea Dornan, certified personal trainer and instructor at Uplift Studios in New York City. “Plus, the repetition of the move offers a cardio element to give you that bonus burn.” To add more resistance, you can also hold a lightweight dumbbell.

Side Imprint

BETH BISCHOFF

Say goodbye to the dreaded muffin top by targeting oblique muscles. “To effectively feel the burn, make sure you squeeze your abs and pull your navel closer to your spine — don’t simply move your arms and legs,” suggests Haley.

Cross Body Chop with Medicine Ball

BETH BISCHOFF

This standing exercise hits muscles from head to toe in one move, says Di Palma. The cross body chop works abs, shoulders, upper back, and glutes, while elevating your heart rate for maximum results.

Medicine Ball Side Throw

BETH BISCHOFF

The medicine-ball side throw fires ups abs, obliques, and lats while raising your heart rate. “The abdominal region is made up of primarily anaerobic muscles and needs to be trained in an explosive manner, such as medicine ball tosses,” says Jay Cardiello, New York City-based celebrity fitness expert and founder of the JCORE system.

Medicine Ball Slam

BETH BISCHOFF

The medicine ball slam is one of the best ways to train the abdominal region: in short explosive bursts, says Cardiello. “I have my celebrity clients do this move as many times as possible in 30, 45, or 60 seconds to combine cardiovascular and strength training,” he says.

Standing Core Stabilization with Dumbbell

Thomas MacDonald

Grab a dumbbell and work your abs with this core stabilization exercise. “To get the best results, think about contracting your abdominals the entire time and pulling the navel closer to the spine,” suggests Haley. The dumbbell weight should be challenging, but not so heavy that you begin to feel the burn in your shoulders instead of your abs, she says.

Overhead Dumbbell Side Bend

BETH BISCHOFF

“The overhead dumbbell side bend is a great exercise because in addition to targeting the obliques, you also elevate your heart rate,” says Di Palma. This move does not hit all abdominal muscles, but it fires up the exterior abs muscles and gives arms a light workout.

Triangle Press

BETH BISCHOFF

The movement of the triangle press teaches the body to stabilize and support weight as it is lowered and raised back to its original starting position, explains Cardiello. This helps strengthen the lower body and core muscles, which can help reduce the chances of lower back injuries, he says.

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Standing Cable Crunch

BETH BISCHOFF

This exercise fires all of your abdominal muscles, says Di Palma. Training with the cable weight for the standing crunch allows you to do fewer reps because abs fatigue quicker from the resistance, she explains.

Torso Rotation with Cable

Thomas MacDonald

Using a cable, the torso rotation tones your abs through the rotation movement, targeting the hard-to-hit oblique muscles. For best results, make sure you squeeze glutes to avoid strain on the knee, suggests Haley.

Standing Rotational Chop with Cable

BETH BISCHOFF

“The standing rotational chop is an incredible full body exercise that emphasizes torso rotation, which aids in hip and lumbar stability,” says Cardiello. Using the cable to focus on one side of the body at a time helps create balance between the lower anterior and posterior portion of the core, he says.

The article 13 Standing Core Exercises Better than Crunches first appeared on Rodale Wellness.

Standing up ab exercises

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