Forget sit-ups—strengthen your core with this standing abs workout instead

Develop your mid-body muscles with these five single-dumbbell moves

A woman exercising with a dumbbell
(Image credit: Getty Images / SDI Porductions)

Abs workouts don’t have to be a string of sit-ups and crunches. You don’t even have to do any seated or lying exercises if you don’t want to. 

This standing abs workout from fitness trainer Elise Young (Elise’s Body Shop on Instagram) features five dumbbell moves that will keep you on your feet while strengthening your core, improving posture and boosting your stability.

Work through the five moves in the video below as a circuit and complete three rounds. If it’s a single-sided exercise, perform the repetitions on each side of the body before moving on. 

How to do Elise Young's standing abs workout

The main muscle worked by sit-ups and crunches is the rectus abdominis. This is the muscle on the front of the stomach, responsible for the six-pack shape, which acts to flex your spine (bend it forward). 

But there are more muscles in your core, including the internal and external obliques, transversus abdominis, multifidus, erector spinae and even the hip flexor muscles.

The core’s responsibilities go well beyond moving your spine too. You need them to transfer power between your upper and lower body, and to your extremities—think about a boxer throwing a punch, generating power in their legs then transferring it through their core, shoulder and arm. 

It also plays a key stabilizing role, resisting force and movement to maintain your posture, and sparing your spine from excessive load to reduce strain or prevent back pain. 

Young’s exercises use the core muscles for these functions. Her exercises that involve holding the dumbbell overhead or to one side will force your mid-body muscles to take up a stabilizing role and keep you upright. 

Looking for some weights for your home workouts? Our guide to the best adjustable dumbbells can help

Harry Bullmore
Fitness Writer

Harry Bullmore is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering accessible home workouts, strength training session, and yoga routines. He joined the team from Hearst, where he reviewed products for Men's Health, Women's Health, and Runner's World. He is passionate about the physical and mental benefits of exercise, and splits his time between weightlifting, CrossFit, and gymnastics, which he does to build strength, boost his wellbeing, and have fun.


Harry is a NCTJ-qualified journalist, and has written for Vice, Learning Disability Today, and The Argus, where he was a crime, politics, and sports reporter for several UK regional and national newspapers.