By Adam Hurly for GQ.
These upright exercises are downright effective. Best part: not a single sit-up required.
1. BATTLE ROPES
“Battle ropes, sometimes called ‘undulation ropes,’ are amazing for core stabilization and strength conditioning,” says Bower. They also give you a killer cardio workout. Basically, you rapidly move around a super-thick rope tethered to a beam or sturdy beam or pole. There are dozens of drills out there, including 45 in this one video alone. Pick one and go for 30- to 40-second sets; after one or two rounds, you’ll feel the burn.
2. SINGLE-ARM PRESS
“Using a dumbbell in just one hand, instead of one in each, creates a load imbalance and forces you to brace and engage the core,” says Bower. “The goal with this workout it to have no body movement other than the pressing arm. You have to squeeze your glutes, brace your core, and bring the pressing shoulder slightly inward.” Try 6 to 10 reps with a medium-heavy weight, so long as you can maintain solid posture, stable hips, and a tight core. (Watch a demonstration here.)
3. PALLOF PRESS
This is a resistance exercise performed with a band or cable system at the gym. Grab the band, draw it as far out as it can go, and stand with legs shoulder-width apart, keeping it at chest height. With your hands interlaced and your glutes tight, press the band fully forward (as shown), arms completely straight. Hold for a half second, bring it back, hold it for a half second, and so forth. Fight the urge to rotate back towards the machine. Try 10 to 12 reps. (See it executed here.)
4. HIGH-KNEE RUNNING
Think back to the high-knee running you did in middle-school practice, the kind the guy on the left is doing. Try it with your hands clasped behind your head and your core taut, and you’ll give your gut a serious workout. Run 50 meters and back (or 25 each way, if it’s challenging).
5. MEDICINE BALL CIRCLES
This is a good way to warm up at the gym. Grab a medicine ball (medium-heavy to start, maybe 10 to 16 pounds), stand with legs shoulder-width apart and hold it out straight in front of you, as shown. The spine should stay neutral and the core taut as you lift the ball over your head and make clockwise circles. Do 10 in that direction, and another 10 counterclockwise. Repeat as desired.
6. STANDING CORE STABILIZATION
This one can follow the aforementioned medicine ball circles. Hold a medium-weight medicine ball straight out from your body with shoulders back (as shown). Rotating your upper torso and keeping your core tight and still, shift the ball slowly from left to right and back. Repeat the full range of motion 10 times.
This isn’t just one of the best “standing upright” ab workouts, it’s one of the best ab workouts, period. A boxing session (with an opponent or a bag) requires constant footwork and hitting; the core stays engaged the entire time, and suddenly you look like Michael B. Jordan in Creed.
8. WOOD CHOPPERS
Grab a medicine ball and stand with your legs shoulder-width apart. Raise the ball over your head then bring it down across your body to the right, as shown, landing in a squat position. You can hold the highest and lowest points for half a second if you want, or you can intensify the motion for better results. Keeping your back straight and your core engaged, bring the ball back up. Repeat 8 to 10 times in the same direction, then switch to the opposite side for 8 to 10 more. (Watch a demonstration here.)
9. STANDING CRUNCHES
Basically, you’re replicating the same crunches you do on a mat in an upright position. Stand with your feet together, core engaged and spine straight. Clasp your hands behind your neck. Now bring your right elbow to your left knee as you raise it up (as shown), then return to start. Try to do this quickly without compromising your straightened spine. Do 10 reps, then switch to the opposite side for 10 more. Some guys use a cable machine to create the same workout with added resistance.
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