Abdominal exercises on the floor are effective for working the abs, however they are not as functional as standing abdominal exercises. Standing ab exercises are a form of functional training in that you mimic moves you perform throughout the day, while also allowing you to work on your balance and stability. Per certified fitness instructor Jari Love, creator of the "Get Ripped" DVD workout series, "You are less likely to feel strain on your back or neck when you are standing versus doing traditional core exercises on the floor." Perform standing ab exercises on three nonconsecutive days of the week, and you will be on your way to a strong, stable body.
Dumbbell Side Bends
Side bends target the obliques and the rectus abdominis muscles. Stand with the legs slightly apart. Hold a dumbbell in one hand and place the other hand behind your head. Bend your torso to the side opposite the dumbbell, "crunching" the obliques. With control, return to the initial position. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions on one side before switching the dumbbell to the other side. Complete three sets total.
Standing Knee Crunches
Knee crunches primarily work the rectus abdominis and the transverse abdominis. Stand in a split-stance position with your hands clasped together above your head. Contract your core and with control, drive the back knee up and bring the hands down so that they meet at waist level. Return to starting position. Perform three sets of 15 repetitions on each side.
Standing Sumo Crunch
The sumo crunch is a great exercise for the oblique muscles. Stand with feet wider than shoulder width apart, with your toes pointed outward. Lower down until your thighs are parallel with the floor and clasp your hands behind your head. With control, lower your right elbow as far as you can toward your right thigh. Return to the starting position; then lower to the left side. Complete three sets of 20 crunches on each side.
Standing Pike Crunch
Standing pike crunches engage all of the ab muscles. Stand with your feet hip width apart, arms pointing straight above your head. Contract your core and simultaneously raise your right leg and lower your arms so that your hands and foot meet at about waist level. Return to starting position and repeat the movement with the left leg. Allow your torso to flex with the lowering of your arms and keep your moving leg as straight as possible. Perform three sets of 20 repetitions with each leg.
Side Knee Crunch
Side knee crunches are another great exercise to target the obliques and help banish the love handles. Stand with feet hip width apart, with your weight balanced on the left leg. Place your left hand on your hips and your right arm straight up in the air. Your right foot should be pointing outward, and your leg should have a slight bend in it. Contract your core and slowly raise your right knee up the side of your body while at the same time bringing your right elbow downward so that they meet at waist level. Hold for a count of one; then slowly lower back down. Be sure not to push off the floor with your foot. Perform 15 repetitions; then switch sides. Complete a total of three sets per side.