Standing Ab Workouts to Do Without Getting on the Floor

If you're tired of the same old crunches, this standing ab workout will challenge your core in a whole new way. Standing ab exercises are more functional, more effective and target all the muscles of your abs for a strong, fit core.

Typical Ab Exercises on the Floor

Doing ab exercises on the floor makes sense—to work your muscles, you have to be in a position where your muscles work in direct opposition to gravity. For the ab muscles you are most concerned with (the rectus abdominis), that means lying down and crunching the shoulders towards the hips, with gravity adding resistance in just the right direction.

In fact, of the most effective ab exercises, all but one are done lying down, including bicycles, ball crunches, and vertical leg crunches. These exercises are the best for recruiting all those muscle fibers in your abs, but with the shift toward functional training, it's now understood that you need strong abs, not just while lying on the floor, but for all the movements you perform each day.

Standing Up for Your Abs

The problem is, while you feel like you've really worked your abs, you've often missed out on more functional core training by focusing so much of your energy on crunches. It's time to look at a new way of working your abs with exercises that are more effective, more functional and, even better, get you off the floor.

Working the body can be more effective than trying to isolate different muscle groups (like crunches do). But fitness experts do recommend a combination of both full-body (compound) exercises and isolation exercises for a well-rounded workout regimen.

What that means for your abs is that, while crunches and other floor exercises still have a place in your training routine, standing ab work can add a new depth and dimension to your workouts, giving you more than just strong abs, but a strong core that supports your entire body.

Standing Ab Exercises

The best standing ab exercises involve moving your body through multiple planes of motion and include movements like bending, rotating and bracing your core. It's also a good idea to include a mixture of both standing and floor exercises to hit all the core muscles for a strong, fit torso.

The following are just a few examples of standing exercises that target all the muscles of the core, including the rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, the transverse abdominis, and the lower back muscles. Many of these exercises will also challenge your balance and stability, both of which require substantial core engagement.

Getting Started

To get started, you'll need a resistance band, various weighted dumbbells, a medicine ball, and a kettlebell.

  • Warm up with a few minutes of light cardio
  • Complete each exercise as shown, keeping each move slow and controlled
  • Repeat the entire sequence for a longer, more intense workout
  • Keep body stabilized throughout the movement and avoid swinging or using momentum

Medicine Ball Circles

Medicine Ball Circle Squat

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Hold a med ball overhead and lean to the right, pivoting on the feet to rotate the body as you circle the ball to the right. Continue in the circle, bringing the ball forward and then turn to the left, again pivoting on the feet, as you circle the weight all the way around. Repeat for 16 reps on one side and then switch to the other side.


Standing Side Crunch

Begin in a standing position, right arm straight up in the air. Shift your weight to your left leg and slowly bring the knee up and out to the side while bringing the right elbow towards the right knee, squeezing the obliques. Take the arm up and the foot down and repeat, keeping the movement slow and controlled. Repeat for 16 reps on each side.


Standing Crossover Crunch

Stand with hands behind the head, elbows out. Bring the right knee up and across the body as you rotate through the torso, bringing the left shoulder towards the right hip. Return to start and repeat, keeping the movement slow and controlled. Repeat for 16 reps on each side.


Diagonal Woodchops

Attach a resistance band to a sturdy object near the floor. Hold the other end and take a few steps away for added tension. Keeping the arms straight, rotate the body and bring the arms up in a diagonal while squeezing the abs. Pivot on the feet and rotate the hips and knees as you turn. Rotate back and repeat for 10-16 reps before switching sides.


Horizontal Woodchop

Wrap the band around a sturdy object at waist level and stand sideways, holding handles in both hands. Keeping the arms straight, bring the arms across the body, slowly rotating to the opposite side and contracting the obliques. Return to start and repeat for 16 reps before switching sides.


Front and Rear Figure 8 Lunges

Step forward with the right leg into a lunge while sweeping medicine ball to the right, down and up in a half circle (half of the figure 8 motion). Step back to start and then step the right foot back into a reverse lunge, sweeping the medicine ball to the left, down and up in a half circle to complete the figure 8 motion. Continue lunging forward and back with the same leg, moving the ball in a figure 8 motion for 16 reps, then switch sides.


Static Lunge with Rotations

Begin in a lunge position, right leg forward, left leg back. Hold a medicine ball with the arms straight out. Keeping the lower body stable, rotate from the torso to bring the arms across the body to the right. Come back to center and now to the left, keeping the movement slow and controlled. Repeat for 8 reps, then switch legs and complete another set of 8 reps.


Overhead Squats

Stand in a wide stance holding dumbbells in each hand. Take the right arm up, letting the left arm hang towards the floor. Looking up at the right arm (optional) lower into a squat until the thighs are parallel to the floor. Press back up, keeping the arm up and repeat for 16 reps on each side.


Kettlebell Windmills

Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell in the right hand. Turn the right toes out and the left toes forward and take the left arm straight up. Lean to the right, kicking the left hip out and bending the right knee as you lower the weight towards the floor. Keep your eyes on the extended left arm. Straighten and repeat for 16 reps before switching sides.

Integrated Core Training

Keep in mind that you don't have to train your abs separately. Core training happens during almost every workout, especially weight training. Any exercise that requires you to stabilize your body as you lift weight will involve your core, particularly if you're doing compound exercises, moves that involve both the upper and lower body at the same time. Some examples include:

Add more core challenge to your workouts by trying the above exercises or combining your own moves together. You can also do exercises on the exercise ball while standing on one leg, or on an unstable surface (like a BOSU). Not only will your abs be stronger and better able to handle all of life's movements, but you also won't have to do a single crunch.

3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Gentil P, Soares S, Bottaro M. Single vs. Multi-Joint Resistance Exercises: Effects on Muscle Strength and HypertrophyAsian J Sports Med. 2015;6(2):e24057. doi:10.5812/asjsm.24057

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By Paige Waehner, CPT
Paige Waehner is a certified personal trainer, author of the "Guide to Become a Personal Trainer," and co-author of "The Buzz on Exercise & Fitness."