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20 Best Standing Ab Exercises For Women


As a certified personal trainer, I’ve recorded well over 100 ab workouts in the last few decades, and no doubt, the abs are the most requested body part to train.  I love a good plank series and core work on the mat, but my Pilates training taught me that you can work your abs both lying down and standing up, which is why I love these standing core exercises. 

Yes, standing ab exercises can be as effective if not more effective than core work on the mat. Fast forward to 2023, now TikTok is getting in on the concept, and #standingabs is trending big time on the app, proving that all ages want a strong core.

I’m not surprised by this, though. My fans have been asking me for standing core, off-the-floor workouts for years.

Why You Should Try These Standing Ab Exercises

First off, many of my middle-aged followers don’t love getting up and down off the floor during their sweat sessions. Whether they are dealing with back pain or knee pain, standing is often more appealing. 

In addition, standing ab exercises are functional and mimic normal everyday daily activities. You can move through all three planes of motion with standing ab exercises and help strengthen the muscles that help you pick up your kids, unload your groceries, mop your floor, or climb a ladder.  

Standing ab workouts can also work to improve your balance which is so important as you age. Watching my own mother experience balance issues due to a lack of core connection makes me even more passionate about helping myself and others stay strong in their core body. 

20 Standing Core Exercises To Do At Home

As a certified personal trainer and Pilates instructor, here are my 20 recommended best standing ab exercises to add to your next workout. The good news is you can do these standing core exercises right at home with minimal equipment. 

Some of them are bodyweight exercises, and a few use a dumbbell which you could substitute for a soup can, water jug, or even just use a throw pillow. 

1. Cross-body bicycle crunches

Step 1: Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, hands behind head.

Step 2: Keep low abs pulled in tight and lift left knee up as right shoulder rotates towards knee.

Step 3: Lower back to start. Repeat on the opposite side.

2. Cross-body leg lifts

Step 1: Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, hands behind head.

Step 2: Keep low abs pulled in tight and lift left leg straight up as right-hand reaches towards toes.  Keep your back straight and your head up. 

Step 3: Lower back to start. Repeat on the opposite side.

3. Cross-body wood chop

Step 1: Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell end to end. Start in a squat position with your chest lifted, your abs tight, and the dumbbell to your right hip. 

Step 2: Stand up and swing the dumbbell up overhead over the left shoulder while contracting your abs. 

Step 3: Return to starting squat position. Repeat on the other side. 

4. High knee lifts with a Dumbbell

Step 1: Begin standing. Extending one arm up, holding a dumbbell and the other arm out for counterbalance. 

Step 2: Alternate lifting your knees up to hip height, engaging your core to maintain balance. 

Step 3: Do desired reps total and then switch the dumbbell to the other hand and repeat.  

5. Standing Oblique Crunches

Step 1:  Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lift right arm up overhead. 

Step 2: Bring the right knee up to the side to meet your right elbow, engaging through your obliques. 

Step 3: Return to standing. Repeat on the other side. 

6. Dumbbell Halos

Step 1: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold one dumbbell end to end at the right hip.  Slightly bend your knees. 

Step 2: Bring the dumbbell up to your opposite shoulder and halo around the back of your head, ending with the dumbbell down at your left hip.  

Step 3: Keep alternating for the desired amount of repetitions.  

7. Fully Body Circles

Step 1: Stand with your legs hip-width apart.  Raise both arms up and clasp your hands overhead. Slightly soften your knees and contract your abs. 

Step 2: Bend forward at the hips and slowly draw a full circle with your body.  Step 3: After several circles, one way, change directions. 

8. Oblique Burners

Step 1: Stand with wide feet, heels in, and toes turned out. Sink into a plie with knees bent and hands lightly touching the back of your head.

Step 2: Bend to the right, reaching your right hand to the middle of your right calf. 

Step 3:  Return to the center. Repeat on the other side.

9. Lunge Crunch

Step 1: Begin in a lunge position with your front knee bent at a 90-degree angle and the other leg extended behind you. Extend both arms out in front of you, holding a dumbbell end to end. 

Step 2: Engaging your core, drive the back knee up and in toward your chest while bending your elbows and pulling your arms into your abs.

Step 3: Extend your leg back to the starting position and repeat. Keep crunching on the right side. Complete 15 reps, then switch sides and repeat.

10. Reverse Lunge Twist

Step 1: Start with your feet hip-width apart, with your arms holding a dumbbell end to end out in front of you.

Step 2: Step back into a reverse lunge with your right leg, keeping your arms slightly bent, and twist your torso to the left over your left thigh. Make sure your front knee is over the toes and in a 90-degree angle. 

Step 3: Return to the start. Repeat on the other side.

11. Cross Behind Lunge with a Knee Lift

Step 1: Begin standing with your feet hip distance apart and your hands lightly touching the back of your head. 

Step 2: Cross your right foot behind your left leg keeping your hips facing forward as you bend both knees and lower yourself toward the floor in a lunge. Keep your back straight and chest lifted.

Step 3: Drive your right knee up to meet your right elbow in a side crunch.  Repeat for desired repetitions and repeat on the other side. 

12. Cross Body Knee Thrusters 

Step 1:  Stand with your feet hip-width apart and extend your arms up and over your right shoulder. 

Step 2: Drive your left knee up and across your body, and bring your arms down to meet your knee. 

Step 3: Return to start. Repeat on the other side.

13. Dumbbell Windmills

Step 1: Stand with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart and your left foot slightly out. Hold a dumbbell with your right arm reaching overhead. 

Step 2: Keeping your right leg straight and your right arm overhead, push your butt back into your right leg and bend at the hip.  Lean forward, reaching your left hand down towards the floor. Only go as far down as you can without dropping the dumbbell forward.  You will load your glutes, and hamstrings and feel it in your core as you lower down. 

Step 3: Stand back up, keeping the arm up towards the ceiling. Repeat on the other side.

14. Crossover Toe Touches

Step 1: Stand with your feet wide and extend your arms into a T position. 

Step 2: Engage your core, rotate your torso to the left, and reach your right hand to your left foot.  Bend your knees slightly if your hamstrings are tight. 

Step 3: Return back to standing and alternate to the other side. 

15. Side Twist Standing

Step 1: Stand with feet hip-width apart, slight bend at the knee, pelvis slightly tucked under, and abs pulled in toward the spine.

Step 2: Hold your arms in a circle directly out in front of your chest, as if you are holding an imaginary beach ball. Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, twist your imaginary ball to the left 3 times, moving far, farther, and farthest. Do not move your hips. The rotation should come right at your ribcage.

Step 3: Return to center, inhale, then twist the “ball” to the right far, farther, farthest, returning to the center to inhale. Repeat twisting three times in each direction.

16. Weighted Oblique Side Bends

Step 1: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and a dumbbell in each hand. 

Step 2: Slowly bend sideways to your right side as far as you comfortably can without leaning forward. Imagine you are against a sheet of glass. 

Step 3: Slowly return to the standing position and repeat on the other side.

17. Fast Corner Punches

Step 1: Begin in a standing position with feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent.

Step 2: Pull your arms close to your side, bending the elbows and making two tight fists facing toward you.

Step 3: Punch your left arm across your body to the right corner and then do the same to the left.  Keep your hips steady and rotate from the waist area, contracting your abs. 

Step 4:  Repeat for the desired amount of repetitions. 

18. Fast Uppercuts

Step 1: Begin in a standing position with feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent.

Step 2: Pull your arms close to your side, bending the elbows and making two tight fists facing toward you.

Step 3: Punch each fist in an upward motion stopping right about chin level, alternating right and left. Keep your hips steady and rotate from the waist area, contracting your abs.  

Step 4:  Repeat for the desired amount ofuppercut repetitions. 

19. Chair Pose with a Twist

Step 1: Stand with your feet close together.  Engaging your core and inner thighs, bend your knees and send your hips back into a chair pose. Lift your chest and chin up, hands in a prayer position. 

Step 2: Rotate your upper body to the right, aiming to get your left elbow to your right knee. Think about rotating from the waist, and don’t rotate your hips. 

Step 3: Return back to the start and rotate to the other side.

20. Single-leg Weighted Deadlift 

Step 1: Standing with feet together and holding a dumbbell in the left hand, lift your left foot up off the ground to establish your core balance.  

Step 2:  Keeping your chest lifted and your back long, contract your abs and hip hinge over, extending your left leg behind you as you tip over towards the ground. Bring the dumbbell down only as far as you can hinge without rounding your back.  Bend your supporting knee slightly.  You will feel this in the glutes and hamstrings.  

Step 3: Squeeze your glutes and engage your abs as you stand back up to start.  Repeat on the other side. 

How To Add These Standing Ab Exercises To Your Weekly Routine

Add two or three standing ab exercises to any workout you do. Tack them on the end of your strength workout or after your cardio workout.  Do approx. Two sets of 10-12 repetitions of each exercise that you choose. 
Make it a daily thing. Perform at least one or two of these exercises for 15 reps every single day any time of day. 
Create an interval workout with 5-7 of these exercises.  Do each exercise for 30 seconds and rest for 15 seconds in between. Don’t stop until you’ve gone through them all.  Repeat the sequence of work to rest for another round if you are feeling energized. 

Benefits Of Standing Abs Exercises

To elaborate on what I said above about standing ab exercises being as effective, if not more effective, than the usual ab crunches, here are some benefits to core exercises off the floor:

For many, standing core workouts help to establish overall consistency, which is the key to strengthening your abs. For many people, the idea of getting down on the floor and doing crunches seems just plain hard. Mental motivation is part of getting into better shape, and standing up is sometimes a little more doable for people and results in better consistency.
For those with bad knees, blood pressure issues, and other ailments, getting up and down off the floor can be difficult. Standing core exercises keeps you upright without worrying about being stuck down on the floor.  
It’s a sneaky way to work on your balance. Core balance is a huge part of graceful aging and staying active in older years. Standing ab work helps work all your core stabilizer muscles,
Standing core exercises will help you move in all three planes of motion, which is important for an overall healthy and well-moving body.  The three planes of motion include the sagittal, frontal, and transverse planes. These planes involve moving front and back, side-to-side, or rotationally, respectively.  

Standing Ab FAQs

Who shouldn’t do standing ab exercises?

If you have any serious balance issues or any current ankle, hip, knee or back injuries, consult your doctor before engaging in these exercises. 

Why is it important to train your core muscles? 

Just like the Mayo Clinic says, “Your core is the central part of your body. Core strength leads to better balance and steadiness, also called stability.”  Core stability is key to aging well. You need to be able to balance just to perform your ADL’s also known as activities of daily life.

Do I have to have the equipment to do standing ab exercises?  

No, you can perform all 20 of the exercises above with just your body weight.  The dumbbell adds an extra bit of resistance to intensify the move, but bodyweight standing abs are very effective and can be done anywhere. 

Final Thoughts

I’m a fan of standing ab exercises for the challenge and the change of pace. All of these functional movements involve multiple muscle groups and focus on improving your strength and coordination while connecting your core to your whole body.  For once, TikTok is getting it right, and #standingabs is a worthy subject!

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