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This Core Is on Fiiire! 15 Standing Ab Exercises That Are Trainer- and TikTok-Approved

Because we’re over sit-ups (but still want a six-pack)

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We love a plank hold as much as the next girl, and we’ll bicycle kick our way through just about anything. But if you’re looking for a new way to work your core that doesn’t involve face planting Superman-ing onto a sweaty exercise mat, we know just the thing. Though standing ab exercises are nothing new, trainers cannot stop raving about the perks of this prone practice, and it looks like TikTok’s finally caught on too.

What Are the Benefits of Standing Ab Exercises?

With over 37 million views on TikTok, #standingabs is clearly the new core workout du jour of the fitness world (and for good reason). Unlike most of the usual supine moves, standing ab exercises are functional, meaning they work with your natural body movements to mimic how you’d utilize your muscles in real life—say, when carrying groceries, mowing the lawn or deep-cleaning the bathroom. They also help support lifelong balance, posture and stabilization while minimizing the strain on your neck, back, knees and wrists (especially if you experience any difficulty getting up off the ground). Plus, they can be done just about anywhere with minimal space and equipment required.

To help you get started, we tapped fitness trainer Brittany Lupton for 15 of her favorite standing ab exercises.

Meet the Expert

Brittany Lupton is a certified personal trainer, health and wellness podcast host and founder of the Let's Lift App that features nutrition guides and lifting programs for all fitness levels. Formerly an instructor with The Fit Body App, Lupton is your go-to hype girl specializing in strength training for all fitness levels, from beginner to advanced to postpartum.

Not sure how to get started? If you're short on time, choose five of your favorite moves from this list and flow through one to two sets each, following the suggested rep amount. For a longer circuit, choose ten of your favorite moves and flow through two to three sets each, following the suggested rep amount. To complete these standing ab exercises—whether you're at the gym or in your living room—have a five- to ten-pound dumbbell, kettlebell or barbell plate nearby to be used as needed. And if you don't have free weights, feel free to sub in a jug of water or laundry detergent (just make sure it's easy to hold).

A 10-Step, No-Equipment Workout for a Full-Body Burn


Brittany Lupton/Sofia Kraushaar

1. Wood Chop

This classic standing move works your entire trunk, with a focus on the obliques and transversus abdominis. In addition to the core, this move also works your glutes and shoulders (deltoids and rotator cuff muscles).

Step 1: Hold one weight in both hands (or use body weight as demoed). Extend your arms up overhead to one side, then squat down slightly while rotating your torso to the opposite side as your arms follow, extending down toward your toes.

Step 2: Stand up, using your obliques to lift your torso up and over, extending your arms back up towards the starting position. Complete 15 reps, then switch sides and repeat.

Brittany Lupton/Sofia Kraushaar

2. Cross-Body Leg Lift

This move targets your hip flexors, adductors (inner thighs) and gluteus medius, as well as your rectus abdominis (the "six-pack" ab muscles) and obliques.

Step 1: Standing tall, place both hands behind your head. Engaging your core, lift one straightened leg up while extending the opposite arm out to reach toward your toes. Keep your spine long and your head lifted (don’t hunch over or arch your back). Extend only as far as your mobility allows.

Step 2: Return to the starting position and complete 20 reps total, alternating sides.

Brittany Lupton/Sofia Kraushaar

3. High Knee Lift

This exercise works your quads, glutes, obliques and transversus abdominis (the deepest of the core muscles that wrap around the entire trunk, extending from the ribs to the pelvis).

Step 1: Begin standing extending both arms straight out in front of you so that they’re perpendicular to your body.

Step 2: Lift one knee up to hip height, engaging your core to maintain balance. Return to the starting position and complete 20 reps total, alternating sides.

Brittany Lupton/Sofia Kraushaar

4. Leaning Obliques

No surprises here! In addition to the obliques, this move works your latissimus dorsi (lats), deltoids and triceps.

Step 1: Begin standing holding one dumbbell, kettlebell or barbell plate in both hands. Lift the weight up over your head, engaging your core and tucking your hips to avoid arching your back.

Step 2: Slowly, lean to the right keeping your hips square and your arms in line with your torso. Only extend as far as your mobility allows.

Step 3: Squeeze your obliques to bring your upper body back to center and repeat on the opposite side. Complete 20 reps total, alternating sides.

Brittany Lupton/Sofia Kraushaar

5. Lunge Crunch

The addition of a lunge helps to up the ante on this standing crunch extension. In addition to firing up the rectus abdominis, this move also works the quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves.

Step 1: Begin in a lunge position with your front knee bent at a 90-degree angle and the other leg stretched out behind you. Extend both arms out in front of you at a diagonal.

Step 2: Engaging your core, drive the back knee up and in toward your chest while swinging your arms down to frame your knee.

Step 3: Extend your leg back to the starting position and repeat. You should be driving your knee up and in as quickly as possible to maintain the explosive movement. Complete 15 reps, then switch sides and repeat.

Brittany Lupton/Sofia Kraushaar

6. Squat Crunch

As your quads, glutes and hamstrings fire up to maintain the squat position, your rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abdominis and erector spinae work in tandem to crunch in each direction.

Step 1: Place your hands behind your head with your elbows extended out wide. With your feet shoulder-width apart, squat down until your thighs are parallel to the ground (or as low as you can comfortably go). Keep your spine neutral and your chest lifted.

Step 2: Engaging your core, rotate your upper body to the right, bringing your left elbow toward your opposite knee. Keep your hips steady as you twist through your torso.

Step 3: Rotate your upper body to the left side and repeat, completing 20 reps total.

Brittany Lupton/Sofia Kraushaar

7. Standing Cross Over Toe Touch

Your obliques and back are the main characters of this move, but keeping your legs straight also requires your glutes and hamstrings to help maintain balance.

Step 1: Begin standing with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, arms extended out to the side. Hinge forward at your waist, lowering your torso down while reaching your left hand toward your opposite foot.

Step 2: Engage your core to help lift your torso back up to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side. Complete 20 reps total.

Brittany Lupton/Sofia Kraushaar

8. Standing Bicycle Crunch

A supine favorite turned on its head. The standing bicycle crunch works your rectus abdominis, external obliques and hip flexors.

Step 1: Begin standing, placing your hands behind your head with your elbows extended out wide.

Step 2: With your feet hip-width apart, bring your left knee in toward your chest and across toward your right side. Simultaneously, bring your opposite elbow down toward your lifted knee, squeezing your abdominals throughout the movement.

Step 3: Return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side. Complete 20 reps total.

Brittany Lupton/Sofia Kraushaar

9. Standing Leg Lift

Similar to the cross-body leg lift, this move targets your hip flexors, adductors, gluteus medius and rectus abdominis

Step 1: Begin standing with your feet hip-width apart, arms extended out in front of you, perpendicular to your body.

Step 2: Engaging through your lower abdominals, lift one leg at a time up to about hip height. Lower back down and repeat on the opposite side. Complete 20 reps total.

Brittany Lupton/Sofia Kraushaar

10. Standing Bird Dog

Another fan-favorite mat move that can be modified for standing, this exercise strengthens the erector spinae (muscle surrounding the spine), rectus abdominis and glutes.

Step 1: Begin standing with your feet hip-width apart, arms hanging down at your sides. Drive your left knee up and in toward your chest, while simultaneously lifting your right arm up overhead, keeping the arm straight. Use your core to maintain balance.

Step 2: Lower back down and repeat on the opposite side. Complete 20 reps total.

Brittany Lupton/Sofia Kraushaar

11. Weighted Standing Side Bend

The addition of a weight will help fire up the obliques, rectus abdominis and erector spinae, as well as the intercostal muscles between your ribs.

Step 1: Begin standing holding a dumbbell, kettlebell or barbell plate in one hand, letting it hang loosely to one side.

Step 2: Start shifting your torso to the side with the weight, hinging at your waist and lowering down as far as is comfortable.

Step 3: Squeeze through your obliques to help lift your torso back up to the starting position. Continue this movement for 30 seconds before switching to the opposite side.

Brittany Lupton/Sofia Kraushaar

12. Weighted Core Crunch

From the bottom up, this move works your quads, glutes, hip flexors and rectus abdominis, as well as your biceps, triceps, deltoids and lats (thanks to that heavy weight you're holding above your head).

Step 1: Begin standing holding a dumbbell, kettlebell or barbell plate in both hands above your head.

Step 2: Drive one knee up and in toward your chest as you simultaneously lower the weight down to tap your knee. Lift the weight back up as you lower your knee to return to the starting position.

Step 3: Repeat on the opposite side, engaging through your core to maintain balance. Complete 20 reps total.

Brittany Lupton/Sofia Kraushaar

13. Weighted Standing Rotation

This weighted move simulates an anti-rotation exercise focusing on the muscles that twist the torso: the obliques. Rotating through the trunk and hips also engages the glutes.

Step 1: Begin standing with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, arms extending out in front holding one light dumbbell, kettlebell or barbell plate in your hands. (This can also be done using body weight only.)

Step 2: Twist your upper body to one side and let your arms rotate with it, moving through your core and allowing your back foot to pivot as you twist.

Step 3: Return to center and repeat on the opposite side, completing 20 reps total.

Brittany Lupton/Sofia Kraushaar

14. Standing Side Crunch Leg Lift

The obliques are at it again, this time with help from the glutes and hip flexors.

Step 1: Begin standing, placing your hands behind your head with your elbows extended out wide. With your feet shoulder-width apart, bring one leg back behind you as if you were lowering down into a curtsy lunge.

Step 2: Keeping your chest lifted, drive the knee back up and out to the side, reaching toward your elbow. Return to the starting position and repeat, completing 15 reps on each side.

Brittany Lupton/Sofia Kraushaar

15. Lunge Crunch With a Twist

Similar to the previous lunge crunch variation (rectus abdominis, quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves) but with the added benefit of an oblique twist.

Step 1: Begin in a lunge position with your left leg extended back behind you and your right knee bent. Raise your arms up above your head.

Step 2: Using your core, drive your back knee up and in toward your chest while you simultaneously swing both arms down toward the left side, twisting through your core.

Step 3: Return to the starting position and repeat, completing 15 reps on each side.



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Executive Managing Editor

Catrina oversees content production and editorial operations across all PureWow verticals. When she's not managing web schedules, digital issues and newsletter production, you can...