Muscle Sport Magazine

Standing Ab Exercises

Andrzej Jaworski/AJ JAWA Photo

The abdominal muscles are of a great importance for the human body as they make up the core muscles, which provide stability, balance and protect the spine. On top of that, they support the trunk and hold organs in their places.

Therefore, these muscles should be strong and healthy. For this, you should do sports, which develop these muscles and incorporate ab exercises into your daily routine.

Here are facts about standing ab exercises, their benefits, the difference from the crunches and top five ab exercises, which will help you to stay fit and healthy.

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What Are Ab Exercises?

Scientists claim that abdominal exercises are the exercises, which are aimed at building, strengthening, and developing the endurance of the abdominal muscles. These muscles perform their paramount functions in breathing, walking, sneezing, maintaining a good posture. So, ab exercises can improve the performance in many sports, eliminate back pain, enhance the support for the spine and the back. However, according to the study, conducted in 2011, ab exercises don’t reduce abdominal fat.

These exercises offer a variety of ranges of motion, angles, positions, which engage different muscles. Here are the major types of ab exercises:


  • Traditional exercises train “isolated” abdominal muscles. They include a crunch with rotation, a standing rotation with a light hand weight.
  • Functional exercises imply the work on the muscles using an additional equipment (medicine balls, dumbbells), which provides resistance to movement.
  • Stabilizing exercises focus on strengthening the spine, e.g. standing core stabilization.


Standing Ab Exercises: Benefits

The person has 29 muscles in the back, pelvis, and abdomen and everybody wants them to work as effectively as possible because they provide balance, stability, and support to the back and the spine. One group of the exercises, which make these muscles work, is abdominal exercises.

The most popular variations of the workout, which is aimed at your abs, are crunches and planks. They help to achieve strength and definition by activating abdominal muscles. However, there is another type of the abdominal exercises, which is called standing ab exercises. They imply the performance of the series of exercises (side leg raises, standing bicycle crunches) in a standing position.

According to the study, published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, you active your superficial muscles and the core more in a standing position as opposed to seated dumbbell overhead presses. Here are certain merits of standing ab exercises:

They Are Easy And Universal

They help to break out of a stagnant ab rut. They don’t require special conditions, so that you can perform these exercises at home, in the gym, at work or on a vacation. Besides, they don’t need a special equipment. However, if you use dumbbells, a medicine ball, the exercise will be more efficient.

Improve Your Sport Performance

Athletic movements such as running, jumping, throwing require muscular strength because it makes all these actions possible. In its turn, this strength is acquired due to the stability of the core. And the stability of the core is provided with ab exercises. Bilateral and unilateral free weight movements, combined with exercises, which target the core, activate the core musculature.

Eliminate Lower Back Pain

Standing ab exercises improve your mobility and strength as they focus on abs, but in the meantime, they recruit more muscles (glutes, hips and the back) and allow using a progressive load. If these muscles have strength, then your core strength is enhanced and you don’t suffer from back pain. Eventually, such daily activities as lifting, running, jumping become effortless and pain-free for you.

Give A Good Posture

The strength of the core affects your posture. So, if it is weak, then your pelvis tilts forward and you have an exaggerated spinal curve. If your core is strong, then you have a straight spine, which gives you a good posture and the weight is distributed equally throughout the body. Thus, standing ab exercises make the core stronger, which affects your posture positively.

Improve Breathing

According to the study, published in a Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, strong breathing muscles (diaphragm and intercostals) promote better core strength. If the core is strong, all organs are in their right position and you breathe easier.

Make The Psoas Muscle Strong

These muscles are also known as hip flexor muscles, which link the core to the legs and the pelvis. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, then these muscles become weak, which may trigger their atrophy. To prevent this, you should do standing ab exercises regularly, which improve the core and work on psoas muscles.

Reduce Neck Tension

If you suffer from the neck tension, then pulling the head up against gravity may aggravate the situation. That is why standing ab exercises are useful because don’t require to push your head up.

Standing Ab Exercises vs. Crunches

As I’ve mentioned certain benefits of standing ab exercises, there are also advantages, which floor ab exercises bring. Some fitness trainers say that it’s great if you use standing or floor ab exercises, but if you combine them, then they bring indescribable results. The most popular type of the floor ab exercise is crunches. Let’s see the advantages and disadvantages of these types of exercises through a detailed comparison.


Standing Ab Exercises Crunches
  • According to Sara Haley a Reebok Global Master Trainer in Santa Monica, CA, standing ab exercises work on more muscles than crunches.
  • They don’t need equipment and may be done everywhere.
  • Don’t put much stress on the lower back.
  • They may be a part of your cardio training if are performed fast. It promotes the weight loss.
  • Improve your posture.
  • Prevent injuries, reduce neck and lower back pain.
  • Strengthen the rectus abdominis by flexing it. The American Council on Exercise and the Biomechanics Lab at San Diego State University state that the stability ball crunch, vertical leg crunch, and long arm crunch are proved to be the best in producing activity in the rectus abdominis.
  • Build endurance in the muscles of the abdomen.
  • Trigger spasms in the bowel, which helps people, who suffer from constipation.


Standing Ab Exercises Crunches
  • Don’t reduce belly fat.
  • They are unilateral exercises, which lack stability.
  • Don’t strengthen the rectus abdominis as crunches do.
  • Certain exercises cannot be performed by people, who suffer from osteoporosis.
    • Can’t be performed everywhere.
    • Only a few types of exercises may be combined with the load.
    • May cause pain in the lower back and neck.
  • Use a relatively small range of motion, tone abs, but don’t burn fat on the stomach.

Top Five Standing Ab Exercises

As I’ve mentioned, standing ab exercises have certain benefits and they are easy to perform. Here are top five my favorite exercises, which I try to incorporate into my regular workout.


  • Dumbbell Side Bend

Target: oblique muscles and transversus abdominis

How to perform: put your feet at the shoulder-width, keep the back straight and take dumbbells in each hand. The palms should face the body. Bend torso to the right side, the dumbbell should be slightly above outer side part of the knee. Return back to the starting position and then bend the torso to the left side. Note that your pelvis shouldn’t move.

Tips: you should drop forward and do not drop more than above the knee. Don’t move the pelvis or the knees to balance the motion and don’t arch the back.


  • Hanging Knee Raise With A Twist

Target: oblique muscles and the lower abs

How to perform: grab a pull up bar and hang above the floor. Tense your core, pull your pelvis back slightly. Raise your legs to the left until your hips are perpendicular to your torso. Hold for some time, then return back to the starting position and repeat the same for the right side.

Tips: keep the back straight, hold for some time at the top of the movement in order to increase the intensity of the twisting knee raise.


  • Standing Bicycle

Target: oblique muscles, abs, leg muscles.

How to perform: stand firm, interlace hands and put them behind the head, elbows should be out to the side. Lift one knee up and move the opposite elbow towards it. Try to touch the knee with your elbow, it’ll make you flex and rotate. You may hold this position for several seconds and then return to the starting position.

Tips: keep your hands behind the head while performing the exercise, stand firm and don’t allow your feet to slide. For this, wear best Reebok shoes for crossfit.


  • Tuck Jump

Target: abs, hamstrings, glutes.

How to perform: stand with feet hip-width apart, hands should be straight out in front of you. Bend your knees, jump up, make sure you engage your ab muscles. Bring knees as close as possible to your chest and put your arms forward in front of you. Land with your knees bent to soften the impact, straighten your knees and then repeat.

Tips: put arms forward and don’t bend your elbows, bring the knees to the chest and don’t land with straight knees because you may get injured.


  • Standing Side Crunches

Target: oblique muscles

How to perform: get into a starting position: stand with feet shoulder-width apart, toes should be pointing forward and hands should be behind the head. Lean your body weight on one leg, pull stomach muscles toward the lower back and inhale. Exhale, lift the left knee towards the left elbow, bend the torso and bring the knee to the elbow as close as possible. Lower the leg slowly and go to the starting position.

Tips: your movements should be slow and controlled, don’t swing hips, don’t pull your head forward and avoid bending forward at the spine.


Thereby, standing ab exercises are beneficial, but they can’t substitute the floor ab exercises completely. However, they may be a perfect alternative for those, who have neck or back issues but want to strengthen the core. Make them an integral part of your routine and you’ll experience numerous benefits they bring.

Written by Helen Rogers

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