10 Standing Ab Exercises to Mix Up Your Usual Core Routine

Standing Core Workouts

Floery Mahoney/Design by Cristina Cianci

A strong core is essential for pretty much everything you do, from running a 5K to sitting upright through hours of Zoom calls. But if you're tired of core workouts that are just an endless series of crunches or planks or—dare we say—plank crunches, there are other ways to work those muscles that don't require you to get down on a mat: standing ab exercises.

Both mat and standing ab exercises are beneficial, but the latter is more functional, explains Floery Mahoney, founder of Board30. That means they mimic everyday movements more similarly than mat exercises (for example, how often do you find yourself lying on your back versus standing up in public?). They also work the deeper core muscles, such as your obliques or psoas muscles (a major player in your hip flexors), which can be difficult to activate. "Withstanding ab work, you can achieve a greater range of motion working the abdominal muscles through their entire length," Mahoney says.

Another advantage of standing ab exercises is relative to floor ab work—they lessen the strain on your neck and hip flexors. Mahoney cautions that you need to be mindful of cross-body moves during standing exercises, as these can stress the spine if you move too quickly. But in general, "standing ab work is a great addition to anyone's workout, but they are especially beneficial if you have neck pain or injury or if you have knee issues that make getting up and down difficult."

Ahead, here are 10 great standing ab exercises from Mahoney that will help give you a full core workout. (Please note: A few of them require a hand weight, but that's all you'll need!)

Meet the Expert

  • Floery Mahoney is a Pilates-trained creator of Da Vinci BodyBoard (DVBB) and founder of Board30, a full-body resistance band workout.
01 of 10

High Knee Lift

high knee lift
  • Start with your arms straight out from your shoulders.
  • Lift one knee to waist height.
  • Alternate legs.
02 of 10

Standing Crunch

standing crunch
  • Start with your arms straight out from your shoulders.
  • Pull your elbows down towards your hips as you squat.
  • Stand back up, and repeat.
03 of 10

One Leg Crunch

one leg crunch
  • Start with your arms straight out from your shoulders.
  • Lift one knee to waist height as you pull your elbows down towards your hips.
  • Alternate legs.
04 of 10

Straight Leg Lift

Straight Leg Lift
  • Start with your arms straight out from your shoulders.
  • Lift your leg towards your hands, keeping your leg extended. You'll want a slight bend in the knee as you lift, and pay attention to your low back.
  • Alternate legs.
05 of 10

Cross Core Lift

cross core lift
  • Start with your arms at your sides, elbows bent.
  • Bring one knee up and across your body to the opposite side while bringing the opposite elbow down towards the knee. 
  • Alternate sides.
06 of 10

Cross body, long leg lift

cross body, long leg lift ab exercise
  • Start with your arms at your sides.
  • Bring one leg up and across to meet the other arm, keeping your leg extended.
  • Alternate sides.
07 of 10

Leaning Obliques with a Weight

 Leaning obliques with a weight ab exercise
  • Stand holding a weight with both hands overhead
  • Lean to one side, moving your whole upper body.
  • Return to center.
  • Alternate sides.
08 of 10

Sumo Squat Oblique Crunch with Weights

Sumo squat Oblique crunch with weights
  • Starting with a weight in one arm, bend the elbow in towards the ribcage, and sink into a sumo squat with toes pointed out to the side.
  • Bring the elbow down towards the hip as you crunch to the side.
  • Switch sides half way.
09 of 10

Leaning Weighted Oblique Stretch

Leaning Weighted Oblique Stretch
  • Standing holding a weight in one hand by your side.
  • Lean to that side while reaching down the leg with the weight.
  • Stand back up.
  • Switch sides half way.
10 of 10

Weighted Core Crunch

Weighted core crunch
  • Stand holding a weight with both hands extended out from the shoulders.
  • Bring one knee up as you bring the hands down over the knee.
  • Alternate legs.

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