While crunches and planks are awesome ways to work your abs, core work doesn’t have to be just for the floor. Stop laying down on the job, and strengthen your midsection by standing on your own two feet with these four upright moves.
Side Crunch: Strength training might just be the most effective and efficient way to tone your belly, but isn’t always easy when fighting the friction of the floor. By standing up, you can target your obliques–or what some call love handles–by using weights and gravity to work with you.
Take a Stand: With your feet about hip-width distance apart and knees unlocked, hold a weight (dumbbell, small plate, kettlebell, etc.) in your right hand. Place your left hand on your hip or behind your head. Bending at the waist, slowly let the weight pull your right shoulder toward the ground. To return back to the starting position, use your midsection to pull you back up. This takes a lot of concentration, because it’s easy to use momentum or other muscles to help. Tighten your core to keep it engaged. Repeat all reps on one side before switching to the opposite.
Sumo Squat Reach: We say it all the time, but it needs repeating–squats rock! They work so many muscles in your body, while at the same time throwing in a bit of cardio fitness, too. Since your abs are needed to keep good form, squats are an easy go-to exercise for core work. However, to mix it up, add in some extra movements.
Take a Stand: Sumo squats are executed with your legs slightly wider, about shoulder-width distance apart. Toes are turned out slightly. Keeping your shoulders back and your core tight, hold a small weight in both hands and let it hang between your legs. Squat down as is you were sitting back in a chair, letting your hamstrings go parallel to the floor. As you stand back up, lift the weight overhead and toward the right side of the body, so that the left side of the body is long and stretched. Return to the squat position and repeat on left side.
Med Ball Body Chop: Twisting is a great way to engage the core, and when you add a medicine ball, the weight ups the intensity.
Take a Stand: Stand with legs at shoulder distance apart, and hold a medicine ball with both hands at chest level. Twist and bend, lowering the ball so that it touches the outside of your left foot. As you stand, twist and lift the ball overhead to your right side. Again, avoid using momentum to swing the ball around, but instead concentrate on keeping your core at the center of the movement. Repeat all reps on one side before switching to the opposite.
Weighted Windmill: The great thing about abs is that it doesn’t take a lot of movement to give them a great workout. Standing and holding can sometimes be all you need.
Take a Stand: Stand with your legs wide and with a dumbbell or kettlebell in your left hand. Extend the weight overhead, so that your arm is straight up. Bending at the side waist, let your right hand lower toward the floor while also keeping your upper body long. Hold this position for two breaths, then use your core to return to standing with the weight still overhead. Repeat all reps on one side before switching to the opposite.
Beginner: 3 sets of 10 reps (each side) using a weight below 10 lbs
Advanced: 3 sets of 15 reps (each side) using a weight above 10 lbs
Sumo Squat Reach
Beginner: 3 sets of 8 reps (each side) using a weight below 8 lbs
Advanced: 3 sets of 12 reps (each side) using a weight above 8 lbs
Med Ball Body Chop
Beginner: 2 sets of 12 reps (each side) using a weight below 8 lbs
Advanced: 2 sets of 15 reps (each side) using a weight above 8 lbs
Beginner: 2 sets of 8 reps (each side) using a weight below 5 lbs
Advanced: 2 sets of 12 reps (each side) using a weight above 5 lbs