Forget crunches — build a stronger core with this 10-minute standing abs workout

A photo of man's strong core muscles
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Sit-ups and crunches are a great way to work your abdominal muscles, but endless reps can get pretty monotonous. Fortunately, they’re not the only way to strengthen your midsection. Instead, you can use this 10-minute standing abs workout to build a stronger core without a sit-up in sight.

You’ll be standing for the whole session, so there are no floor-based moves, but it can still help to roll out a yoga mat to improve your underfoot grip. Otherwise, you don’t need any equipment to get started, just a few minutes and some space.

The routine was developed by fitness trainer Maddie Lymburner (known as MadFit on YouTube) and is designed to work the muscles around your stomach without needing the floor, making it a great option if you have sore knees or lower back pain.

You’ll do each exercise for 45 seconds, take a 15-second rest, then start on the next move. It’s a no-repeat routine, so you’ll do each move once, making it an ideal choice for when you’re tight on time but want to work your core. Or you can repeat the circuit three times for an extended abs workout.

If you’re used to floor-based abs workouts, use Lymburner’s demonstrations to practice your standing technique and perfect your form to get the most from your training and avoid injury. Plus, that’ll help ensure that you do engage your core muscles instead of arching your lower back.

Watch MadFit’s 10-minute standing abs workout

People often use core and abs interchangeably, but there are a few differences. Your abdominals, which include the rectus abdominis six-pack abs muscles, form part of your core, a larger collection of muscles that help connect your upper and lower body, improve your posture, and increase your stability. 

So, training your abs using Lymburner’s workout also helps strengthen your core. Another reason it’s so effective in just 10 minutes is the style of exercise — high-intensity resistance training (HIRT). This is a lot like its cardio cousin, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), but with a focus on strength-building exercises rather than cardio moves.

But as you keep the breaks to a minimum, it has a similar heart rate-raising effect, which helps you burn energy during the workout. Sustaining this high heart rate for the duration means you’ll also boost your metabolism (the amount of energy you burn throughout the day).

This makes it an ideal routine if you’re looking to develop visible abs. To get to your goal, you need to reduce the amount of fat around your stomach, and since you can’t spot-target fat loss, high-intensity, metabolism-boosting workouts like this are a good place to start.

Since this is a short session, you could combine it with a 25-minute dumbbell HIRT workout to target your whole body, strengthen your core, and burn fat in just over half an hour. It’s an efficient way to train, and all you’ll need is a set of weights, like adjustable dumbbells, to get started.

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James Frew
Fitness Editor

James is Tom's Guide's Fitness Editor, covering strength training workouts, cardio exercise, and accessible ways to improve your health and wellbeing. His interest in fitness started after being diagnosed with a chronic illness, and he began focusing on strengthening his core, taking regular walks around the city, and practicing meditation to manage the symptoms. He also invested in fitness trackers, home workout equipment, and yoga mats to find accessible ways to train without the gym. Before joining the team at Tom’s Guide, James was the Fitness Editor at Fit&Well, where he covered beginner-friendly exercise routines, affordable ways to boost your wellbeing, and reviewed weights, rowing machines, and workout headphones. He believes that exercise should be something you enjoy doing, so appreciates the challenge of finding ways to incorporate it into everyday life through short muscle-building sessions, regular meditation, and early morning walks.