Forget sit-ups - you only need these 3 exercises and 9 minutes for stronger abs

These standing and kneeling exercises are even better than sit-ups...

Woman showing off sculpted abs
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Sit-ups have been a long standing favourite in the world of ab exercises. But if you don’t like them, or struggle with floor-based exercises, then there’s plenty of alternatives out there that can actually offer the same (if not more benefits), like this three-move workout. There's not a single sit-up in sight and, as well as being great for your abs, these exercises are excellent for your core too. All you're going to need is a pair of dumbbells and your phone timer.

The hard truth is that six-packs are predominantly made in the kitchen, with a clean diet and eating in a calorie deficit. However, incorporating some weights into your routine can definitely help. According to MiraFit: "By adding in some weight to your ab training, you’ll be giving your body the stimulus it needs to adapt and grow – so you can start seeing some real results." They continue: "Abs are like any muscle. If you want them to be more defined, you need to progress your training. This means working your way up in weight load, to get stronger, more developed abs."

For this workout you've got three exercises to get through and you're going to do each one for 40 seconds of rest, with a 20 seconds rest – that's nine minutes in total. Two of the exercises are done standing, the other is on your knees, so have something soft to hand (like a towel or an exercise mat) and wear good workout shoes to improve your movement/stability. Ready? Here's your workout:

  • Kneeling woodchop 
  • Standing dumbbell marches (have one dumbbell by your side and the other held overhead)
  • Kneel to stand (hold the dumbbells on your shoulders)

You don't need to go heavy with your dumbbells, start with a light to moderate weight; anything too heavy and you'll compromise your form and could injure yourself. Also, these exercises are perfectly fine to do with just one dumbbell or a single kettlebell if you have one.

If you enjoyed this workout, then try this four-move standing core workout next or here's another three-move workout for your abs, in case you need something short and snappy!

Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.