The Ultimate Standing Ab Workout: 6 Exercises For A Flat Stomach

Most exercises for the abs involve getting down on the floor or at least using a yoga ball, but it is also possible to do ab exercises standing up.

Choosing the best abs exercises standing comes down to considering what abs exercises you can do standing up instead of lying down, the equipment you have available, your fitness level, and your standing abs workout goals.

In this guide, we discuss the benefits of standing ab exercises, how to structure a standing abs workout routine, and provide step-by-step instructions for the following exercises for a standing ab workout that doesn’t require getting on the ground:

Let’s jump in!

Palloff Press

What Is A Standing Abs Workout Routine?

A standing abs workout is basically a series or sequence of ab exercises performed standing up rather than lying on your back, getting down on the floor, using a yoga ball, or using an abs weight machine.

The benefits of standing abs exercises are that they can be performed anywhere, and many people struggle with having the mobility to get on and off the ground.

Plus, if you want to do an ab workout routine at the gym but don’t have a clean yoga mat and don’t want to lie down on the gross gym floor, a standing ab workout can strengthen your core muscles without making you squirm or get the “ick“ about how unhygienic the situation is.

Standing ab exercises may also be better for women who are pregnant and cannot lie down; however, you should consult your physician or pelvic floor physical therapist about the best ab exercises during pregnancy.

Dumbbell Side Bend

The best abs standing workouts target all of the major abdominal muscles in the ab workout circuit, including the following:

  • Rectus abdominis (“six-pack” abs muscle)
  • Internal and external obliques on the sides of your abs
  • Deep transversus abdominis ab muscle, which encircles your entire trunk like a corset

Generally, the best standing ab workout routine also includes ab exercises for other core muscles such as the muscles in the lower back, the pelvic floor muscles, and the hip flexor muscles.

Even if you are doing ab exercises standing, your standing ab workout routine should help build core strength, which is vital for helping maintain proper posture, preventing low back pain, and optimizing exercise performance.

The Ultimate Standing Ab Workout: Get A Flat Stomach With These 6 Standing Ab Exercises

Here is one of the best abs exercise standing workouts for a well-rounded, standing abs workout routine:

Beginners can progress this abs workout standing routine by adding a second set. Advanced athletes can do three sets of these standing abs exercises.  

#1: Single-Leg Pallof Presses 

The anti-rotation standing core exercise improves functional core strength because you are reducing your base of support, which requires much greater activation of all of your core muscles, as well as the stabilizer muscles in your hips and ankles.

Here are the steps for this core exercise:

  1. Attach a resistance band with a handle to a stationary object or use a cable pulley machine with the handle set at chest height. 
  2. Position yourself so that your body is angled 90 degrees from the anchor point of the band so it should be to your right or left side.
  3. Hold the handle of the band in at your sternum. You should be far enough away from the anchor point of the band so that there is significant tension on the band in the starting position.
  4. Stand on the one leg closest to the anchor, lifting the other leg off the ground.
  5. Engage your abs and glutes as you press the handle straight out in front of your sternum. Do not allow your arms to be pulled inward toward the anchor point.
  6. Complete 15 slow reps and then switch sides.

#2: Anti-Rotation Pulses

This is a great standing ab exercise to perform right after the Pallof press because it uses the same position.

This standing ab workout exercise builds strength in the obliques, deep core muscles, as well as the shoulders, and the other abdominal and low back muscles of the core.

Here are the steps:

  1. Start in the same position as with the Pallof press in the extended position, so that you feel a good amount of tension on the band out in front of you.
  2. Engage your abs and glutes while pulsing the cable further away from the anchor point by about six inches and then bringing it back to the starting place. For example, if the band is anchored to your left side, pulse the band with extended arms to the right about 6 inches per pulse.
  3. Pulse 25-30 times and then switch sides. 

#3: Cable Chops

If you don’t have a medicine ball or dumbbell, you can use a cable machine or resistance band for this standing ab exercise.

This standing ab workout exercise is a great way to improve your rotational core strength.

Here are the steps:

  1. Attach the single handle and set the pulley at chest height.
  2. Position yourself so that your body is angled 90 degrees from the cable so it should be to your right or left side of your body. Stand with good posture, knees slightly bent, chest up, shoulders back, and feet shoulder-width apart.
  3. You will need to take a few steps backward so that the cable is being pulled straight out in front of the machine with your arms straight out in front of your body.
  4. Engage your core muscles to twist your torso towards the cable, reaching both hands to grab the handle with your arms extended.
  5. Begin to chop by pulling the cable straight across towards the opposite wall, twisting your torso through the full range of motion.
  6. When you have twisted all the way to the outside away from the weight stack, pause and hold the contraction for 3 to 5 seconds.
  7. Rather than allowing the weight stack to pull you back to the starting position, actively resist as you slowly return before beginning the next rep.
  8. Complete 12 to 15 reps and then face the other way.

If you do have a weight, you can perform the same move by holding onto the weight with straight arms.

#4: Kettlebell or Dumbbell Side Bends

Another highly effective standing ab exercise to add to your standing abs workouts is the dumbbell or kettlebell side bend.

This is a lateral flexion exercise that helps increase strength and definition in your obliques.

Here are the steps for performing this standing ab workout exercise:

  1. Stand upright with good posture, keeping your chest up, shoulders down, back straight, and core and glutes engaged. Hold a very heavy dumbbell or kettlebell in one hand.
  2. Put your opposite hand behind your head with your elbow flared out to the side.
  3. Bend your torso to the side with the weight, bringing your head and shoulders down towards your hip near the weight. As you do so, you will use your opposite obliques to fight the pull of gravity and slowly control the motion. 
  4. Pause and hold the contraction, squeezing your obliques for 2 to 3 seconds. 
  5. Slowly return to the starting position by passing the upright position until you are leaning in the opposite direction by using the opposite obliques.
  6. Pause for 1-2 seconds.
  7. Come back to neutral.
  8. Complete 12-15 reps on one side and then switch sides.

#5: Standing Cable or Resistance Band Oblique Twists

This is a great standing ab exercise for your obliques.

Just be sure to twist carefully and mindfully so that you do not injure your back. Keep your core tight and think about initiating and controlling the movement from your obliques rather than your spine.

Remember to move slowly and carefully to maximize the tension in your abs the whole time.

Here are the steps for performing this standing ab exercise:

  1. Attach the stirrup handle to the cable machine and set the pulley at shoulder height. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, angled about 45° facing away from the cable attachment point. You can also use a resistance band attached behind a door.
  2. Grasping the handle with both hands, fully straighten your arms so that they are extended out and parallel to the floor. The weight stack should be lifted in the starting position so that there will be tension on the cable throughout the range of motion. This will help you determine how far away from the cable you will need to stand.
  3. Exhale as you slowly rotate your entire torso away from the cable, engaging your obliques and keeping your core tight and arms completely straight. Do not allow your arms to step down.
  4. Pause at the end range of motion, squeezing your obliques.
  5. Slowly twist back to the starting position without allowing the weight stack to pull you or touch all the way down before beginning the next rep.
  6. Perform 8-15 reps and then turn around and face the other way.

#6: Weighted Toe Touches

Many standing ab workouts fail to include ab exercises standing that target your lower abs.

This standing core exercise works your lower abs and hip flexors.

Here are the steps:

  1. Put on ankle weights and stand upright with good posture. 
  2. Lift your right arm straight up towards the ceiling and then bring your left leg up straight, without bending the knee while reaching the right arm down to touch your left foot. 
  3. Crunch them together across your body.
  4. Return to the starting position.
  5. Perform 15-20 reps and then switch sides.

Start with 2 sets of each exercise and build up to 3 sets 2-4 times per week.

For more core workout ideas, check out our guide here.

Pallof press.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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