Forget crunches — this 10-minute standing ab workout blasts your core with no equipment

Woman doing a standing abs workout
(Image credit: MadFit/YouTube)

Looking to mix up your core routine? We’ve got you covered. If you’re short on space, you have mobility issues or you’re pregnant and are looking for ab workouts that don’t invovle lying on the floor, a standing ab workout might be exactly what you’ve been looking for. To make things even simpler, and to give you that added motivation you might need at this time of year, I’ve found a 10-minute standing ab workout that blasts your core without any equipment. Ready to find out more? Read on. 

As a reminder, if you’re new to exercise, you’re returning to exercise following an injury, or you’re pregnant, it’s always a good idea to check with a medical professional, your midwife, or a personal trainer before adding new exercises to your routine. If you’re in any doubt, it’s always a good idea to ask a PT to check your form to ensure you’re not putting yourself at risk of injury. 

What is the workout? 

Ready to get started? The workout is created by YouTube trainer MadFit, and doesn’t need any equipment, so you can pop your best adjustable dumbbells and best kettlebells to one side for this one. You’ll do five different exercises and complete two rounds of the circuit. You’ll do each exercise for 45 seconds, followed by a 15-second break. Obviously, if you’re a complete beginner, you can pause the video after the first circuit and take a longer break if you need. 

Here’s the exercises involved: 

Standing crunches

For this exercise, start with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, and your arms outstretched overhead. Engage your core, thinking about sucking your belly button in towards your spine. Lift one knee up towards your torso at the side of your body, and at the same time, twist your torso to lower your arms over the knee. Repeat this crunch for three reps on one side, before switching to the other. Keep alternating sides for the full 45-seconds.  

Straight leg twist

For this exercise, again, start with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and your abs engaged. This time, raise one knee up towards your torso, and at the same time, twist your abs and arms to the side with the knee raised. Lower the knee down to the floor, then extend your leg out in front of you, at the same time reaching the opposite arm to touch the raised foot. Repeat on the opposite side, and keep alternating sides.  

High knees

This exercise will get your heart rate up, but you can remove the impact by lifting one knee then the other and removing the jump element. To do high knees, lift one knee, then the other up to your torso. Keep your abs engaged to keep your upper body steady throughout.  

Leg lifts

This is similar to the standing crunches exercise above, but this time, as you lift your knee up to the side of your body, you lower the same elbow down to touch your knee, squeezing your obliques (the muscles that run along the sides of your midsection) as you do so. Tap your foot back down to the ground, then lift the same knee, this time twisting your torso to tap the opposite elbow to your knee. Complete 45 seconds on one side before switching to the other leg.  

What are the benefits of this workout? 

As mentioned above, the beauty of standing ab workouts is that they can be done from just about anywhere, without the need for extra equipment. All you need for this workout is your body weight, so it’s a great one to slot into your routine at your desk between meetings, or when you’re traveling and you don’t have access to home workout equipment or a gym. 

Strong abs are far more than just an aesthetic goal. Building a strong mid-section can help you run, walk, and move with better posture, but your abs can also help protect your spine from injury. They’ll also help you in your day-to-day life when you’re carrying heavy bags through an airport, or lifting something down from a shelf. 

Of course, if building visible abs is your fitness goal, standing ab exercises alone won’t be enough. Visible abs are the result of a low body fat percentage — your diet, cardio levels, sleep, stress, and hormones can all affect your body fat percentage, but you can read more about how to calculate your body fat percentage, and why it matters, here. 

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Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.