Not all core exercises take place on the ground. Discover how to do standing crunches, their downsides, and how to get results.
Standing crunches are a crunch exercise variation where you stand up while you do the exercise.
If you stick to the bodyweight version, gravity takes over almost all the effort your abs would have to do to bring your chest to your hips.
In turn, bodyweight standing crunches are not good for training your abs.
There are many more effective core exercises that don’t require you to lie down on the floor.
On the flip side, you can also do standing crunches with resistance bands + an anchor or a cable machine. These variations will be able to work your abs in nice amounts and can offer nice benefits.
How to do a standing crunch
Take the following steps to do a standing crunch:
- Stand up straight with your hands on the side of your head with your elbows flared outward.
- Slowly move your chest as far as comfortable toward your hips.
- Return to starting position in a controlled motion.
The position of your arms in standing crunches does not actually matter that much.
If you find it easier to avoid jerking your head by holding your hands somewhere else, you can definitely do standing crunches this way too.
Muscles worked with standing crunches
The main muscles worked in standing crunches are your abs.
Besides that, your glutes, quadriceps, and obliques may have to work to tiny extents to keep you standing up and in position.
It is important to note that resistance training exercises work because they make it easy to challenge your muscles in nice amounts.
However, by doing the regular crunch standing up, gravity takes over the effort of moving your chest toward your hips from your ab muscles.
In turn, bodyweight standing crunches are not good for growing and strengthening your ab muscles. This version would actually work your erector spinae (lower back muscle) more.
That being said, you can still add resistance to this movement to make it somewhat more effective anyway.
You don’t do this by doing standing crunches with regular weights like dumbbells, kettlebells, or a medicine ball.
These would just make gravity help you move your shoulders even more.
Instead, you want to anchor resistance bands or a cable machine somewhere high, hold the free end against your chest, and do weighted standing crunches this way.
Standing crunch benefits
If you do them with a resistance band or cable machine, standing crunches can still offer positive effects. These are not that different from the regular crunch exercise benefits. A few examples are:
- Stronger muscles: If you add resistance in the right way, standing crunches can help work your abs in a way that causes growth and strength progress.
- You may find them more comfortable: Some people find lying down on the ground uncomfortable and/or inconvenient. In that case, standing crunches could be a decent alternative.
- May reduce or prevent back pain: If standing crunches help you strengthen your abs, they could help you reduce or prevent back pain (1, 2).
- Can make your six-pack stand out: Making your ab muscles bigger with standing crunches in combination with a low body fat percentage can make your six-pack stand out more. Many people will find this an aesthetic benefit.
Standing crunches are often not ideal due to the equipment requirements but doing them the right ways can still offer benefits.
Standing crunch alternatives
In most situations, one of the standing crunch alternatives below will offer more benefits with fewer downsides.
- Cable crunches
- Ab wheel roll-outs
- Hanging knee raises
- Regular crunches
- Reverse crunches
To choose between these standing crunch alternatives you want to think about what you want to achieve, what fitness equipment you have, what exercises you like doing, and what movements you are comfortable with.
Are standing crunches a good exercise?
If you have the cable machine or resistance setup described, standing crunches can be a decent exercise for working your ab muscles.
However, many people will not want or be able to implement these equipment setups.
Bodyweight standing crunches are just not that good in most areas besides working your erector spinae muscles a small amount.
For these reasons, many people want to choose one of the standing crunch alternatives instead.
Even if you find lying down on the floor uncomfortable or inconvenient, you should have no problem finding more effective core exercises.
Are standing crunches effective?
No, most standing crunches are not effective for working your abs. Two exceptions to this are standing crunches with resistance bands or cable machines that are anchored in a high position.
How many standing crunches should I do?
Most people want to do 0 standing crunches since most versions of this exercise are not that good. That being said, if you use resistance bands or a cable machine, you want to do 6 to 25 standing crunches per set with a challenging resistance to grow your abs.
Do standing crunches work?
Bodyweight standing crunches do not work in the sense that they barely engage your ab muscles. The main thing bodyweight standing crunches will do is engage your erector spinae (lower back muscles) to a tiny extent.