Are Standing Core Workouts Better Than Floor-Based Ones? Here’s What a Trainer Has To Say

Photo: Stocksy/Ivan Gener
From TikTok videos to your favorite virtual workout platforms, trainers and everyday athletes are taking a stand—literally—in favor of core workouts that get you off the floor and onto your feet. Standing core workouts, are, you guessed it, core exercises that you do while standing. They can be a nice reprieve from the traditional supine (on your back) or prone (face down) abs exercises like sit-ups or planks.

These vertical workouts have become so popular that Peloton instructor Rebecca Kennedy even curated a whole collection of classes on the Peloton platform called Standing Core with Rebecca. Right now, members can access nearly 20 different classes and counting, each ranging from five to 20 minutes. One of the best parts is that you can do many of them virtually anywhere with quite literally zero equipment—technically, standing core workouts even negate the need for a mat.

Experts In This Article
  • Rebecca Kennedy, Rebecca Kennedy is a NASM-certified personal trainer as well as a strength training and treadmill fitness instructor for Peloton.
  • Tatiana Lampa, corrective exercise specialist

But the benefits of standing core exercises don’t end there. There are several reasons why this style of training really does deserve a spot in your workout routine.

7 key benefits of standing core exercises

Kennedy believes there are a litany of impressive advantages to standing while you engage your core. These are some of the biggest ones:

1. They're great for small spaces

Standing core workouts can be done in tight spaces or in areas where you’d really rather not lie down, such as the grimy airport corner by your gate or a cold tile floor of a hotel room.

2. They train proprioception

Proprioception is your awareness of your body in space. When you aren’t in as much contact with the ground (read: when you're standing), and you're moving in multiple plans of motion—back and front, side to side, and rotating—it improves your spatial awareness and coordination.

3. They improve your balance

By standing instead of sitting or kneeling, each exercise will also challenge your balance, coordination, and stability.

4. They're typically good for prenatal workouts

Get the all-clear from your OB, but most standing core workouts are generally approved for pregnant people who cannot safely lie on their stomachs or backs.

5. They help you train for power

With moves such as standing wood chops or medicine ball slams, you’re able to train for power while burning out your core. Power moves train your explosive strength, which require quick bursts of energy.

6. They're accessible for many people with injuries

If you’re rehabbing an injury or have arthritis or other joint issues in your wrists, many traditional hands-and-knees core exercises like planks are likely off-limits. Standing core workouts take wrist pressure out of the equation, and are also good for those who tend to have tenderness in their tailbones, or shoulder or neck pain.

7. They keep things interesting

Body adaptations happen when you test your muscles and mind with new challenges. Standing core work offers a fresh element to your workouts that otherwise might feel stale.

Who should try standing core workouts?

With the exception of people with balance issues, like those experiencing vertigo, standing core workouts are something everyone can do, says Kennedy. “Contrary to popular belief, this isn't a modified core class, or made for beginners—it's simply a different way to work your core,” she says. “Some standing core is fast, some is slow, some is dynamic, some is static—mirroring life. It can be friendly to beginners and challenging for advanced athletes. That's the beauty of it.”

Plus, those who work desk jobs can really benefit from standing core workouts, says Tatiana Lampa, CPT, corrective exercise specialist and founder of the Training with T app. “Your core is one of your powerhouses,” says Lampa. “A strong core can prevent injuries, especially in your day-to-day life.

When you’re locked on your computer for work, how’s your posture? Are you spending majority of the time hunched over? What does that say about your core? "Including standing core exercises can help build a well-rounded strong core, which is important in all activities and sports,” says Lampa. Getting up on your feet after a day sitting still engages those hips and glutes too, to build a strong center that supports the rest of your body.

How to add standing core workouts into your fitness routine

Kennedy recommends building standing core exercises into your schedule one to two times a week as a warm-up. “[Standing core workouts are] a wonderful tool to use as a warm-up to get aligned, get your heart rate up slightly, and mobilize your joints dynamically without putting a lot of demand or stress on them,” she explains.

Alternatively, standing core workouts can act as an abbreviated full-body workout on days when you want to stay active, but might not have the space, equipment, or time for a more complicated session.

3 standing core exercises to try

Ready to stand up for your core strength? Here are three of Kennedy's go-to standing exercises that will bring that core burn to new heights.

Single arm overhead march

  1. In one hand, hold a medium-size dumbbell straight up over your shoulder, keeping that bicep by the ear and your elbow straight.
  2. Bring your right knee up to hip-height, then return your foot to the floor.
  3. Bring your left knee up to hip-height, then return your foot to the floor.
  4. Continue marching for 30 to 45 seconds while keeping the weight in place.
  5. Switch hands and repeat.

Standing bird dog

  1. From a neutral standing position, come into a single-leg deadlift by hinging at the hips, lifting your straight left leg directly behind you, and bringing your torso toward the floor until you feel your hamstring on standing leg catch. Both arms should be hanging down toward the floor. Hold.
  2. Extend your right arm straight out, bringing your bicep up by ear. Your left leg and right arm should be extended long.
  3. Crunch, bringing your right elbow to your left knee, then extend both limbs back out.
  4. Repeat the movement pattern—crunching in, then extending out—for 45 seconds.
  5. Switch sides.

Sumo side bend to oblique crunch

  1. With your feet wider than shoulder-distance apart, toes turned slightly outward, bend your knees to come into a sumo squat.
  2. Bring hands behind your head, then bend toward your right side, bringing your right elbow toward your right knee.
  3. From here, twist your torso to bring your left elbow toward your right knee for an oblique crunch.
  4. Return to bring your torso upright and face forward, but stay in a sumo squat.
  5. Repeat the side bend and oblique crunch on other side. Continue alternating sides for 60 seconds.

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