Unless you’re sleeping or having sex, lying flat on your back is rarely a position you want to take in life. It usually means you’ve fallen or been knocked down—two things you don’t associate with having a strong set of abs. So to get a six-pack that both looks good and protects you, it’s wise to mix in some exercises you can do on your feet, where most of life takes place.

Quick Tip
Martial arts punches and kicks are legendary ab builders. Practice doing them slowly to build muscle control in the abs, and quickly to build explosive power.

Performing standing ab exercises better prepares you for sports and daily activity, because you force the core to engage in a position it uses for all your major actions. No matter what the movement, the abs have to help you keep your balance, unlike when you’re crunching on the floor. Standing ab training can also help you avoid common ab training injuries, such as neck strain (people tend to grab the backs of their heads during crunches) and lower back pain (associated with sit-ups).

Upright Ab Training

Add these moves to your workouts:

Place one of the following at the end of each workout (rotate through the moves). In the first session, perform 20 total reps, taking as many sets as you need. Rest 30 seconds between sets. Each time you repeat a workout, try to add 5 to 10 reps. When you can perform 50 reps in five or fewer sets, add weight.

Standing Cable Crunch 

Use a rope handle on a triceps pushdown station and wrap it around the back of your neck. Pull the handle down behind your head so your hands are at each side of your face and there is tension on the cable. Take a wide stance, feet outside shoulder width, and crunch your torso down to your hips.

Turkish Getup

Lie faceup on the floor holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in your left hand and bend your left knee. With the weight raised above your head, lift your torso off the floor, sweep your right leg back, and stand straight up. Reverse the order to return to the floor. Complete your reps, rest, and then repeat on the opposite side.

Side Bend

Hold a heavy dumbbell in one hand and stand tall. Brace your core and bend laterally to the side that’s holding the weight. Be careful not to let your shoulders twist. Complete your reps and then repeat on the other side.