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The Best Standing Core Exercises to Improve Strength

Written by: Kelsey Downing, PT, DPT

The Best Standing Core Strength Exercises

The Best Standing Core Exercises for Better Back Health and Improved Core StabilityWhen you think of core exercises, you probably think of crunches and planks. Getting down on the floor and repeating the same moves repetitively to get those “six-pack abs”. However, there is a way to strengthen those abdominals without getting on the floor. Doing a standing core workout is not only less of a hassle, but it is also more efficient. With standing exercises, you are more likely to work muscles other than just the six-pack muscles but target the whole core. This includes the muscles that wrap around the trunk.

Benefits of Core Strengthening Exercises

Having a strong core is important for many reasons beyond “looking good” in a bathing suit. Here are the main health benefits that a stronger core brings that goes beyond physique:

  • Reduced risk of low back and other joint pain
  • Improved performance in sports and work
  • Better balance
  • Easier job demands such as bending, lifting and twisting
  • Daily activities are easier – faster and more resilient for tying shoes, lifting a box or child
  • Improved posture and body position

Standing Core and Back Strengthening Exercise

Here are a few standing exercises to try adding to your routine. For these exercises, you have the option of utilizing a medicine ball or dumbbell with the weight of your choice, or you can choose to do without.

Standing Stabilization with Rotation

Standing with feet hip-width apart, hold a medicine ball or dumbbell with both hands straight out ahead of you. Keep the arms straight and rotate your trunk to the left and come back to the center with control. Repeat 10 times and then do the same on the right. Make sure to use your core muscles to twist and that you are not pivoting on the feet.

Standing core rotation exercise

Body Chop

Again, start with your feet hip-width apart. Using either a medicine ball or dumbbell, hold the arms out at chest level. Rotate your torso to the left, with your knees bent. Your hands are reaching to the outside of your thigh. Keeping your arms straight, slowly swing the weight diagonally, up across your torso above your right shoulder. Complete 10 times and then switch sides.

body chop core exercise

Standing Side Crunch

Feet hip-width apart and hands behind your head with the elbows wide. With control, lift your left knee towards your left elbow, bending through your torso. Try to stay upright in the back so you really utilize those oblique abdominal muscles for this move. Complete 10 times, and repeat on the other side.

Standing side crunch exercise

Standing Cross- Over Reach

With this exercise, start with your feet wider than hip-width apart and extend the arms out to the side at a T. Slowly rotate your torso to the left and tap the right hand to the outside of the left foot. Come back up to start and rotate to the right side in the same fashion. Complete 10 on each side.

standing core cross over exercise

Standing Single-Leg Sprint

Start in a low lunge position with the left leg behind, arms extended overhead, and a slight forward hinge over the right thigh. Use your core to lift your left knee in towards the chest, bringing the arms down towards the sides. Slowly return the left foot back down onto the floor to the starting position. You want to be quick, but purposeful with this movement. Repeat 10 times and then do the same on the opposite side.

Standing single leg sprint exercise

With these exercises, proper form is the most important thing. So focus on making controlled, precise movements throughout the workout. If you feel that you are losing your form, try it without the weights or take a break and start again.


Written by: Kelsey Downing, PT, DPT

Kelsey Downing earned her Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree in 2016 from Campbell University in Buies Creek, NC. Since then, she has been working in a variety of settings. From outpatient, acute care, and home health she has gained a wealth of hands-on knowledge. Additionally, she has sought out further certification in manual therapy, concussion management, and lymphedema management. She continues to be driven to learn and refine her skills to improve patient care. Pt is a frequent contributor to

Works Cited  

Bubnis, Daniel. (2016, September). The 13 Best Ab Exercises You Can Do Standing. Retrieved from

Moncayo, Jennifer. (2016, May). 13 Standing Core Exercises Better Than Crunches. Retrieved from


Pictures Cited

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is for educational purposes only. This is not a substitute for a medical appointment. Please refer to your physician before starting any exercise program.