Forget sit-ups — build a stronger core and improve your posture with this 15-minute standing abs workout

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

If you want to strengthen your core, classic exercises like sit-ups, crunches and planks are a great option. But, if you’re looking to shake up your routine without compromising on the results, then you can take on this 15-minute standing abs workout instead.

All you need to get started is a yoga mat for underfoot support and a set of dumbbells. If you’re at the gym, choose a pair that’ll challenge your muscles to get through a set but won’t affect your form. But for home workouts, it’s worth investing in a set of the best adjustable dumbbells.

With weights by your side, you’ll be ready to take on this short routine from certified personal trainer Mikala, known as fitbymik on YouTube. There’s no floor work, so you’ll be standing for the duration, making it ideal if you want to give yourself a break from endless sit-ups and crunches.

You’ll do each exercise for 45 seconds, take a 15-second break, then start on the next move. There are 15 exercises that’ll work your upper body and engage your core. If you’re tight on time, aim for a single round, but you can repeat the routine for a 30-minute core-focused workout.

Watch Fitbymik’s 15-minute standing arms and abs workout

Mikala uses a technique known as high-intensity resistance training (HIRT) to pack an effective muscle-building workout into just 15 minutes. During a HIRT workout, you train intensely in short bursts and keep breaks to a minimum to work your muscles hard and raise your heart rate.

This helps you burn more energy than during a steady-paced routine, and sustaining a high heart rate can also boost your metabolism (the amount of energy you burn throughout the day). It’s a lot like a HIIT workout but with a focus on strength training rather than cardio.

However, rather than rush through each repetition to pack in as many as you can in the time, Mikala performs each exercise slowly with a focus on form. This helps increase time under tension, which can help increase the workout’s muscle-building results.

Plus, each exercise is designed to target your upper body and core simultaneously, so you get more bang for your buck with each move. This helps build functional strength, making everyday tasks like carrying groceries, grabbing items on high shelves, and improving your balance easier.

This is because your core — a section of mid-body muscle that includes your rectus abdominis six-pack abs muscle — helps connect your upper and lower body, playing a vital role in your stability, posture and workout performance. 

Of course, you might not always have weights to hand when you’re ready to train. In this case, a bodyweight standing abs workout can have similar core-strengthening effects. You could even alternate between each routine to give your upper body muscles time to recuperate.

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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.