Who doesn’t want sleek washboard abs? Yes, please!

The tricky thing with developing abs is that spot exercises don’t quite work – you really need to up your overall fitness game to get in shape. 

The good thing is that you can tailor your workouts in a way to hit all those goals. Once you’re in the swing of cardio and overall body workouts, add standing ab exercises to your routine. 

Common floor exercises like crunches and bicycles are effective but can easily be performed incorrectly, placing strain on the neck, back and hip flexors.

What's more, you can engage and improve your core strength by performing the following exercises while watching your favourite shows or even while in a virtual meeting. Just remember to turn off the camera!

4 exercises to get you started

Don’t forget to warm up your muscles!

Standing crunches

  • Squeeze your abdominals while standing with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Push your hips forward and your belly button toward your spine.
  • Perform a crunch with your hands behind your head.
  • Lower your shoulders and your head toward the floor.
  • Keep your elbows out to the side to avoid straining your neck.
  • Return to an upright standing position.
  • Perform 10 reps or sets.

Crossbody leg lift 

  • Stand tall with your hands behind your head.
  • Using your core muscles, lift one straightened leg while extending the opposite arm out to reach for your toes.
  • Maintain a long spine and a lifted head (no hunching or arching your back) and extend only as far as your mobility allows.
  • Return to the starting position and perform 20 reps on each side, alternating sides.

Lunge crunch 

  • Begin in a lunge, with your front knee bent at a 90-degree angle and your other leg stretched out behind you. Extend both arms diagonally in front of you.
  • With your core engaged, drive your back knee up and in toward your chest, swinging your arms down to frame your knee.
  • Return your leg to its starting position and repeat.
  • To keep the movement going, drive your knee up and in as quickly as possible. Do 15 reps on each side, then switch sides and repeat.

Weighted side bends

  • Choose a set of weighted kettlebells, dumbbells or free weights.
  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your weights by your sides.
  • Begin by bending sideways to the right, keeping the weight close to your body. Squeeze your obliques (outermost abdominal muscles) as you bend and feel the stretch on your left side as you move the weight down toward the side of your knee. 
  • Return to your starting position after a brief pause.
  • Next, bend to the left.
  • Alternate sides. 

Good to know

Standing ab exercises are excellent for engaging more of your muscle groups, which is important for maintaining good posture and keeping you upright. If you don't have weights, start with a two-litre or five-litre bottle; just make sure it's easy to hold, and gradually increase the weight as you progress. Fill it up with water or sand for weight and make sure the cap is firmly closed.


This article is for informational purposes only. Always check with your doctor or medical practitioner about any health concerns, before embarking on any fitness or nutrition programme, and usage of any medication.