Forget sit-ups — build a stronger core and boost your balance with this 25-minute standing abs workout

Man performing an abs workout outside
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you’re bored of doing endless crunches and planks to strengthen your core, we have good news; you don’t need sit-ups to work your midsection. Instead, you can build core strength, boost your balance and improve your posture with this 25-minute standing abs workout.

You don’t need any equipment to get started either, so it’s an ideal option if you’re tight on time, can’t make it to the gym or while traveling. But if you have one handy, it’s worth rolling out one of the best yoga mats to give yourself some under-foot support.

This short routine was designed by Anna Engelschall (best known as growingannanas on YouTube) and targets your whole core — a section of mid-body muscle that’s responsible for your balance, stability, and connecting your upper and lower body.

You’ll do each exercise for 40 seconds, take a 10-second rest, then continue to the next move. Whether you’re new to these exercises or could use a refresher, you can follow along with Engelschall’s demonstrations to perfect your form and get the most from your training.

As it’s an abs and core-focused routine, you’ll need to make sure that you’re engaging your core (the muscles around your stomach) rather than arching your back, as that can lead to injury. If you do feel twinges, you can use these exercises for lower back pain to ease the soreness.

Watch Anna Engelschall’s 25-minute standing abs workout

In most abs workouts, you need to aim to do a specific amount of repetitions for each exercise, but not in this routine. Instead, you’re using a technique known as high-intensity resistance training (HIRT), where the aim is to train intensely in short bursts with minimal rest.

It’s similar to high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts but with a focus on muscle-building moves instead of cardio-based exercises. Both are designed to raise your heart rate, allowing you to burn more energy than during a similar steady-paced or reps-based session.

Plus, keeping the breaks to a minimum helps sustain this high heart rate, which creates longer-term effects, like boosting your metabolism (the amount of energy you burn throughout the day), for fat-burning, muscle-building results.

This is also crucial if you want to develop visible muscle around your stomach, like the coveted six-pack. To reach this goal, you need to strengthen your muscles with workouts like this, but you also need to reduce the amount of fat around your stomach.

However, since you can’t spot-target fat loss, you need regularly to take on high-intensity routines like this. But it’s important to remember that fat loss also depends on your diet, genetics, and many other lifestyle factors, like how much high-quality sleep you get.

So, you can use Anna Engelschall’s standing abs routine to strengthen your core, but you’ll also want to ensure that you eat a balanced diet with plenty of protein and use a fitness tracker or wearable device like the Oura Ring to track and improve your sleep to see the best results.

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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.

  • Braaainz
    Ugh. HIRT? Come on, we all know it's just HIIT, renamed to try and grab attention.
    Reply
  • James Frew
    Braaainz said:
    Ugh. HIRT? Come on, we all know it's just HIIT, renamed to try and grab attention.
    It is a very similar technique, but the aim of HIRT is primarily to build strength. Some HIIT routines feature the same exercises (especially the bodyweight core moves), but the aim is to raise your heart rate, so you'll also likely see more exercises like burpees and running on the spot.
    Reply