This 20-Minute Standing Abs Workout Burns Major Calories

This standing abs workout will work all the muscles in your core while strengthening your legs and arms, too.
Image Credit: milan2099/E+/GettyImages

Whether sit-ups give you a sore neck, you have a mobility issue that makes lying down uncomfortable or want to burn calories, standing abs workout are an excellent alternative to floor-based core work.

"Traditional ab workouts tend to focus on isolating the core from a seated or floor position, and while these kinds of exercises certainly have a time and place, standing ab exercises can recruit more of your muscles and ultimately burn more calories," April Whitney, CPT, founder of Smalletics, tells LIVESTRONG.com.

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Plus, forgoing the floor in favor of stand-up abs workouts can be beneficial in other ways.

"At a time where we tend to sit for most of the day, getting up and performing movements from a standing position can help improve posture, cardiovascular health, mobility and even help with energy and focus," Whitney explains.

Designed by Whitney, this 20-minute standing abs workout will benefit anyone who sits for the majority of their day, is seeking a low-impact workout or has trouble with floor-based core exercises.

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Check out more of our 20-minute workouts here — we’ve got something for everyone.

20-Minute Standing Abs Workout

Perform each exercise for 40 seconds, resting for 20 seconds between every move. Repeat the whole circuit for a total of 3 rounds.

Move 1: Standing Obliques Crunch

Move 1: Standing Obliques Crunch
Image Credit: April Whitney/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 3
Time 40 Sec
Body Part Abs
  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands behind your ears and elbows out to the sides. This is the prisoner stance.
  2. Bring the ribcage in and brace your core by pulling your navel to the spine.
  3. From here, use your obliques to lift your left knee up and crunch to your side, meeting your left elbow.
  4. Lower the leg with control back to the floor, still using your core for the movement.
  5. Alternate sides with each rep.

Tip

“We tend to overemphasize core movements that target the rectus abdominis [superficial ab muscles], and it's best to work all of the muscles that make up your abdominal infrastructure,” Whitney says. “This exercise predominantly works the obliques [side abs], which is important to include in a well-rounded ab workout, standing or not.”

Move 2: Standing Crossbody Knee Drive

Move 2: Standing Crossbody Knee Drive
Image Credit: April Whitney/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 3
Time 40 Sec
Body Part Abs
  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands behind your ears in the prisoner stance.
  2. Bring the ribcage in and brace your core by pulling your navel to the spine.
  3. From here, use your obliques and core to lift the left knee up, crunching across the body to meet your right elbow.
  4. Lower the leg down with control back to the floor, still using your core for the movement.
  5. Alternate sides with each rep.

Tip

“When we look at the core more holistically, it is made up of not just the abs, but also the hip flexors, pelvic floor, glutes and the mid and lower back," Whitney says.

"While this exercise targets your abs and obliques, it also gets your adductors [hip flexors], glutes and hamstrings involved, which are important to activate for a strong core overall,” she says.

Move 3: Standing Trunk Rotation

Move 3: Standing Trunk Rotation
Image Credit: April Whitney/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 3
Time 40 Sec
Body Part Abs
  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms out straight in front of you, hands intertwined.
  2. Pull your shoulders down away from your ears, bring the ribcage in and brace the core by pulling your navel to the spine.
  3. From here, rotate through your hips, pivoting your left foot, and bringing your hands and torso to the side. Use your core to guide the movement.
  4. Return to the center with control.
  5. Alternate sides with each rep.

Tip

“A strong core also includes strong glutes and lower back,” Whitney says. “This exercise not only works the deeper core muscles and stabilizers, but it also gets the lower back involved and works on hip mobility.”

And since we twist and turn our bodies all the time in everyday life, “it's also important to work on rotation through the trunk from a functional health standpoint,” she says.

Move 4: Standing Diagonal Chops

Move 4: Standing Diagonal Chops
Image Credit: April Whitney/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 3
Time 40 Sec
Body Part Abs
  1. Start in a high squat position with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart and your arms down at one side of the body, hands intertwined.
  2. Pull your shoulders down away from the ears, bring the ribcage in and brace your core by pulling your navel to the spine.
  3. Using your core, rotate your torso diagonally, bringing your arms up and across the body, as you pivot and extend through the hips.
  4. Return to the starting position, keeping that tension in the core and the arms straight.
  5. Do half of your reps on one side, then repeat on the other side.

Tip

“Any lift and chop variation is a great way to work on your core while also getting the benefits of performing a total-body exercise that gets your heart rate up,” Whitney says.

Move 5: Toy Soldiers

Move 5: Toy Soldiers
Image Credit: April Whitney/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 3
Time 40 Sec
Body Part Abs
  1. Start by standing with your arms folded in front of you.
  2. Bring the ribcage in, brace your core by pulling your navel to the spine and tucking your pelvis under.
  3. With control, kick your left leg up straight, using your core instead of momentum. Lower the leg down with control while keeping tension in the core.
  4. Alternate legs with each rep.

Tip

“This exercise is great for both hamstring flexibility and mobility, as well as working the core musculature,” Whitney says.

Move 6: Standing Punch

Move 6: Standing Punch
Image Credit: April Whitney/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 3
Time 40 Sec
Body Part Abs
  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bring the ribcage in, brace your core by pulling your navel to the spine and tucking your pelvis under.
  3. Begin slowly punching outwards, alternating sides, and gradually increase the pace until you're able to feel your core working.

Tip

Standing punches are an excellent exercise for increasing the heart rate while working the core, Whitney says.

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