Forget sit-ups — you just need a pair of dumbbells and 6 moves to sculpt your abs

a woman carrying dumbbells in front of her stomach
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Do you squirm when you see yet another ab workout that involves laying down on the floor and completing rep after rep of sit-ups, planks and crunches? We hear you. Here are six dumbbell exercises designed to target the core and they are all completed standing up.

That's right, you don't need to lie on the ground and twist and crunch your torso in all directions to strengthen and define your core ab muscles. You just need to find some space and a pair of the best adjustable dumbbells and you're good to go.

Not only are these moves great for defining your ab muscles but standing workouts are also more functional than floor based ab workouts meaning they more effectively engage your core and other muscles.

What is the standing ab workout?

The workout is designed by fitness instructor Fiona Judd and follows a fairly straightforward structure. There are six exercises included in the routine, you will perform each for one minute each and aim to complete three rounds in total. Feel free to add in your own rest periods between each exercise.

For demonstrations, check out Judd's video below.

These standing exercises engage the core muscles extensively due to the need to maintain stability and balance throughout each movement. This not only strengthens the muscles in your core but can also promote better posture over time. 

Exercises performed in a standing position often require more energy compared to exercises done in a seated or lying down position. When you're standing, your body has to engage additional muscles to maintain balance and stability, resulting in more calories being burned. 

As we touched on before, standing exercises are also highly functional as they replicate real-life movements. This makes them beneficial for improving strength and coordination in everyday activities like lifting objects or performing household tasks.

Standing exercises are also highly functional as they replicate real-life movements.

Lastly, you can use progressive overload training with standing dumbbell exercises. This involves gradually increasing the weight lifted or the number of repetitions performed over time, which helps stimulate muscle growth and strength development for continued progress.

It's important to finish by saying that developing visible abdominal muscles, commonly referred to as "abs," is a process that requires dedication, consistency, and attention to various factors beyond just exercise. While standing dumbbell exercises can certainly help strengthen the core muscles, achieving visible abs doesn't happen overnight. 

Alongside targeted exercises, factors such as maintaining a balanced diet to reduce body fat percentage play a big role. Additionally, incorporating full-body strength training and cardiovascular exercises into a well-rounded fitness routine can aid in burning calories and promoting muscle growth throughout the body, including the core region.

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Jessica Downey
Fitness Writer

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her love for keeping fit and fueling her body with healthy and enjoyable food quite naturally led her to write about all things fitness and health-related. If she isn’t out testing the latest fitness products such as the latest running shoe or yoga mat for reviewing then she can be found writing news and features on the best ways to build strength, active aging, female health, and anything in between. Before then she had a small stint writing in local news, has also written for Runners World UK (print and digital), and gained experience with global content marketing agency, Cedar Communications.

Born and raised in Scotland, Jessica is a massive fan of exercising and keeping active outdoors. When at home she can be found running by the sea, swimming in it, or up a mountain. This continued as she studied and trained to become a PPA-accredited magazine journalist in Wales. And since working and living in London, she splits her time between weight training in the gym, trying new fitness classes, and finding scenic running routes. Jessica enjoys documenting this on her fitness-inspired Instagram page @jessrunshere where she loves engaging with like-minded fitness junkies.

She is a big fan of healthy cooking and loves learning more about this area with expert nutritionists she has met over the years. Jessica is a big advocate for building healthy relationships with food rather than building restrictive attitudes towards it. When she isn’t eating or running she also enjoys practicing yoga in her free time as it helps her to unwind and benefits her performance in other sports.