Forget crunches — this 20-minute standing abs workout sculpts your core and boosts your metabolism

Woman doing a standing abs workout
(Image credit: MadFit/YouTube)

Crunches and sit-ups have always been the go-to bodyweight exercises for people looking to work their abs, but they’re not your only option, and there are certainly more enjoyable ways to train your core if you’re not a fan of hitting the floor during your workouts.

You don’t need any equipment for the workout, but using a yoga mat is worthwhile to protect your floor from any sweat — this is a pretty sweaty session too, because you’ll be moving for the whole 20 minutes.

This standing abs workout from fitness trainer GrowWithJo is low-impact and perfect for beginners, though gym-goers of any level will benefit from the routine. You stay on your feet for the whole session and it’s more of a dance than a traditional workout — keep moving in time to the beat and the time will fly by.

Watch GrowWithJo’s 20-minute standing abs workout

20 Min INTENSE Standing Lower Belly Fat Workout | Low Impact | growwithjo - YouTube 20 Min INTENSE Standing Lower Belly Fat Workout | Low Impact | growwithjo - YouTube
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Once the workout starts there are no dedicated rest breaks, though of course you can take a moment anytime if you need one. You do each exercise for 40 seconds before going straight into the next one, with Jo demonstrating the upcoming move on the side of the screen for the final five seconds of the current exercise.

Rather than doing classic bodyweight exercises like squats and lunges the workout is more of a flow where you keep to the beat and work your abs by lifting your legs and bending down. The constant movement will also get your heart pumping and deliver cardiovascular benefits while burning calories.

No single move is too difficult, so it’s a great workout for beginners who’ll be able to follow the whole session, perhaps taking the odd break to grab a drink of water, so its worth keeping one of the best water bottles nearby to keep hydrated. 

Unlike traditional abs workouts where you aim to exhaust the muscles with long sets of exercise directly targeting the upper and lower abs, this standing workout builds your overall fitness while working those muscles in a way that strengthens them, but it’s not so intense you’ll be feeling sore in your core for days afterwards.

This kind of cardio abs workout is a great way to increase your overall movement for the day and will help you hit the 150-minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week recommended by most major health bodies like the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services. It’s also a workout likely to improve your mood and leave you feeling more energized for the rest of the day, rather than very tired.

If you’d prefer a traditional route that’s more directly focused on the abs, this 20-minute bodyweight abs workout is designed to target every part of your midsection, including the obliques as well as the upper and lower abs. There’s no dancing in it though, so it is objectively less fun.

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Nick Harris-fry
Senior Writer

Nick Harris-fry is an experienced health and fitness journalist, writing professionally since 2012. He spent nine years working on the Coach magazine and website before moving to the fitness team at Tom’s Guide in 2024. Nick is a keen runner and also the founder of YouTube channel The Run Testers, which specialises in reviewing running shoes, watches, headphones and other gear.

Nick ran his first marathon in 2016 after six weeks of training for a magazine feature and subsequently became obsessed with the sport. He now has PBs of 2hr 27min for the marathon and 15min 30sec for 5K, and has run 13 marathons in total, as well as a 50-mile ultramarathon.

He runs 50-80 miles a week and races regularly with his club, which gives him a lot of opportunity to test out running gear: he has tested and reviewed hundreds of pairs of running shoes, as well as fitness trackers, running watches, sports headphones, treadmills, and all manner of other kit. Nick is also a qualified Run Leader in the UK.