Exercise

If you hate crunches or struggle with back pain, this article will show you the best standing core exercises you can do without equipment.

Doing core exercises on the floor all the time can get boring. Luckily, there’s a better alternative – standing core exercises burn more calories, build stability and strengthen the core faster.

Crunches and sit ups shouldn’t be done repeatedly since they strain the spine can cause back pain. In fact, you should avoid most floor-core-exercises if you’re a senior, recovering from an injury or suffer from back pain.

Here are 15 no-equipment standing core exercises you should add to your routine.

 

Knee Cross Crunch

Most beginners should be able to perform this exercise. It helps build balance and coordination. The knee cross crunch activates the abs and oblique muscles.

How to perform

Stand upright and keep your feet shoulder-width apart.

Lift the left leg as you simultaneously bring out the right elbow until it touches the left knee.

Slowly return the arm and leg to starting position then repeat the movement with opposite arm and leg.

 

Squat hold side bends

This exercise activates the ab muscles, glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps. If you find the exercise too easy, perform it while holding a dumbbell or water bottle.

How to perform

Assume a stance wider than shoulder-width and then place hands behind hands.

Tighten your abs, then bend your knees to perform a plie.

Maintain the squat position then bend the torso from side to side.

 

Standing side crunch

As you may know, it’s not advisable for people with neck and back pain to perform regular crunches. Well, this exercise is idea for people with such issues.

The standing side crunch activates the oblique muscles (internal and external), and the rectus abdominis.

How to perform

Stand upright, keep your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent.

Place your left arm on the left side of the head then lift the left knee sideways until it touches the left elbow. It’s okay if the knee doesn’t touch the elbow – just crunch as high as possible.

Avoid leaning forward – crunch sideways.

Complete reps for one side before alternating.

 

Good mornings

You can’t have a strong core if you don’t train the lower back. This exercise strengthens the lower back and the glutes.

How to perform

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and place your hands behind the head.

Tighten the back muscles then bend the hips as you lower the shoulders towards the floor. Keep the knees slightly bent.

Stop when the torso is parallel to the floor then slowly lift it to return to starting position. Repeat this movement for at least 10 reps.

Avoid arching your back – just keep it flat.

 

Standing back extension

Perform this exercise every day if you sit for long hours. The standing back extensions strengthen and loosen the back muscles. They also help relief back pain.

How to perform

Assume a shoulder-width stance then place your arms on the back of the hips.

Keep the knees straight then use your arms to bend the back forward as far as possible.

Slowly return the back to starting position and repeat.

Try to extend the stretch after every rep.

 

Standing knee tucks

This is one of the few exercises that activate all core muscles. Some beginners may find it challenging since it requires stability.

How to perform

Stand upright with feet together and lift both hands straight over the head.

Lift the left leg backwards as you simultaneously bend the torso forward.

Once the rear leg is almost parallel to the floor, slowly bend it forward and bring it as close to the chest as possible. At the same time bend the arms and crunch the core.

Slowly extend the arms and left leg to reverse the movement.

 

Skater hop with reach

This exercise will build cardiovascular endurance and strengthen your glutes. Adding the reach will help activate the core more (especially the oblique muscles).

How to perform

Keep both feet together then rotate the hips and bend the torso forward.

Hop to the left side and land on one (left) leg then reach with the right hand and touch the far left of the floor.

Then hop the right side and land on the right leg then use the left arms to touch the far right of the floor. Keep alternating this movement.

 

Standing pike crunch

Other than strengthening the core, this exercise will help stretch your hamstrings. Do lots of reps to benefit from this exercise.

How to perform

Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and stretch both hands straight over the head.

Tighten the core then lift the left leg (keep it straight) and lower the arms at the same time so that the left leg and arms touch each other at waist level.

Now, return the leg and arms to starting position. Remember to keep the dormant leg straight throughout.

 

Jumping oblique twist

This is more of a cardio exercise but it’ll strengthen your core. You will burn lots of calories with this exercise since it activates all muscle groups.

How to perform

Stand upright and keep both feet close together.

Raise your arms to chest level and bend the elbows.

Jump and twist the butt and feet to the left side, without turning the torso. Then twist the butt to the right side in the next jump.

Make sure you rest on the ball of your feet after every jump.

Feel free to use a timer or count reps when doing this exercise.

 

Romanian single leg deadlift

This list wouldn’t be complete without the single leg deadlift. This exercise activates the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. It’ll also help build stability and balance.

How to perform

Stand upright, keep feet together and tighten the core.

Lift the right leg backwards (keep it straight) as you simultaneously bend the torso forward.

Lower the torso until you touch the floor with one (or both) arm(s), while keeping the back straight.

At this point the right leg, hips and torso should be aligned in a straight line.

Slowly raise the torso as you lower the right leg starting position.

Complete reps for one leg then alternate.

 

Cross chops

This exercise will help improve your balance. It strengthens the core muscles, particularly the hip flexors and lower ab muscles.

How to perform

Stand upright, keep feet shoulder-width apart and arms clasped straight over the head.

Lower the hands in a chopping motion to the opposite side as you lift your knee.

Return to starting position and repeat.

Feel free to use a dumbbell or medicine ball when performing this exercise.

 

Static squat torso twists

This exercise will strengthen the glutes, lower back, oblique muscles, hamstrings and quads. Perform it slowly to fully engage the muscles.

How to perform

Assume a stance wider than shoulder-width then bring arms straight in front.

Squat slightly then turn your hand and torso to the left side. And then slowly twist them to the right side and keep alternating.

Try to increase range of motion after each rep.

 

Hanging knee raises

This is one of the best ab exercises. Note that you need grip strength to perform this exercise.

How to perform

Grab a pull up bar with both arms and then tighten the abdominal muscles.

Bend both knees then slowly bring them as close to the chest as possible.

Slowly lower them to starting position and repeat.

Avoid arching your back. Your back should be curved when you raise the knees. And remain still, don’t swing the body.

 

Twister

This exercise involves a twisting motion that activates the oblique muscle and the lower back.

How to perform

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and place both hands behind the head.

Bend the torso forward until it’s parallel to the floor – keep the back straight and the neck aligned in its neutral position.

Twist the torso to face the right side then return to center and twist to the left side.

Do as many reps as possible.

 

Static lunge ab twist

This exercise trains the core and leg muscles at the same time. In fact, it burns more calories most ab exercises.

How to perform

Stand upright then step forward to get in the lunge position.

Straighten your arms and spread them sideways.

Slowly twist the torso and face the left side, return to the center, then rotate to the right side.

Repeat this movement for at least 20 reps.

 

Final word

Now, you don’t have to do the same ol’ boring core exercises. These standing core exercises will make your workouts fun and more rewarding. In your next core workout, try out these exercises then add the ones you like to your workout routine.

Which is your favorite standing core exercise?

Shares

Want to lose weight exercising only 3 times a week?

Download our FREE 3-day home workout routine