Forget planks — this standing ab workout blasts your core in just 10 minutes

a photo of a woman with strong abs
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Standing ab workouts have skyrocketed in popularity over the past few years, but you might be wondering, are standing ab workouts better than traditional supine or prone ab exercises, like sit-ups or planks? In a word, yes. They’re not just designed for beginners — standing ab workouts are just as beneficial for more advanced gym-goers, and have a number of benefits for your core. 

Firstly, as you are standing, you are working on your balance, coordination, and stability more than you would be lying down. You’re also more likely to recruit other muscle groups and are great if you’re short on space. Finally, standing ab exercises are often more accessible to those recovering from an injury, pregnant women who shouldn’t spend too long lying on their backs (although always check with your doctor or midwife first), or those with arthritis or joint injuries that make kneeling, or hands-and-knee core exercises like planks difficult. 

To find out more, I swapped my planks and sit-ups and gave this 10-minute standing ab workout a go. For the workout you’ll need a weight — this can be one of the best adjustable dumbbells, or one of the best kettlebells, or a weight plate. You’ll do each of the exercises for 45 seconds, followed by a 15-second rest. 

What is the workout?

You can follow the workout on YouTube, but here are a few exercises to expect: 

Marching knee lifts: For this exercise, start by holding a dumbbell with both hands raised above your head. Engage your core, thinking about sucking your belly button into your spine, and bend at the knee, raising it up towards your torso. At the same time, crunch the weight down towards your knee, before raising it back to your starting position. Repeat on the opposite side, and keep switching legs. 

Knee lift and twist: Similar to the exercise above, for this one, as you crunch your knee up, lower the weight to your opposite hip, then back to your centre as you lower the leg to your starting position, effectively making a figure of eight with the dumbbell. Keep switching the leg you are raising.

What are the benefits? 

I’d never recommend a workout I hadn’t tried, so I unrolled my yoga mat, grabbed a dumbbell, and gave this quick 10-minute workout a go. I was surprised by how hard my core worked in some of the exercises, and how much I felt this workout in my obliques when I got back to my desk. 

As mentioned above, there are a number of benefits to standing workouts, one being you can do them just about anywhere, without the need for a lot of space. Standing ab exercises can also help you to build power — especially exercises like wood chops and medicine ball slams. As a runner, I’m always looking for ways to build the explosive power I need to accelerate in the final miles of a marathon, so I’ll definitely be adding standing ab workouts to my strength training routine in the future. 

As a reminder, if building visible abs is your goal, you’ll need to focus on your overall body fat percentage, not just ab workouts. Your fitness levels, diet, sleep, stress, and hormones can all contribute to your body fat percentage, but you can read more, and work out how to calculate yours, here on Tom’s Guide.

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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.