12 Best Oblique Exercises To Strengthen Your Side-Abs

Written by Varsha Patnaik , MSc (Biotechnology), Certified Diet & Nutrition Coach

The obliques are muscles that run diagonally along our sides, connecting the ribs to the hip bones. They are the largest abdominal muscles and consist of separate internal oblique and external oblique sets of muscles (1). They support your core when you breathe, bend down, stretch up, and turn your body. These muscles also help in keeping your spine straight and stable (2).

To keep your side-abs strong and flexible, you must move and train these with oblique exercises. This article explores 12 oblique exercises that focus on strengthening and training your oblique muscles. Keep reading.

What Is Oblique Exercise?

What Is Oblique Exercise?

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Oblique exercises address the oblique muscles or the side-abs to train them for all their potential functionalities.

When your obliques are not utilized enough, the body begins to compensate by overusing other body muscles like the muscles in your lower back, leading to pain and discomfort (2). Oblique exercises can strengthen the core and relieve chronic low back pain affecting more than 50% of the American population (3).

Oblique exercises are easy to do and don’t require any fancy equipment. You can include them in your strength training session or your regular cardio session. Keep scrolling.

12 Best Oblique Exercises For A Strong Core

1. Side Planks

Side Planks

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The side plank exercise works on your obliques, core, shoulders, and hips.

How To Do

  1. Lie on your right side.
  2. Extend your legs, stacked from hip to toe.
  3. Rest the elbow of your right arm on the mat, directly under your shoulder.
  4. Tighten your core.
  5. Raise your hips in a way that your body is in a straight line from head to toe.
  6. Do not drop your hips.
  7. Hold this position for 30 seconds or more.
  8. Repeat on the other side.

2. Side Plank Dips

Side Plank Dips

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Side plank dips challenge your obliques further. This exercise also utilizes your shoulder, hip, and core muscles.

How To Do

  1. Take the position of a side plank.
  2. Drop your hips and bring them back to the starting position.
  3. Repeat the movement on both sides.

3. Side Plank Leg Raises

Side Plank Leg Raises

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The side plank leg raises work on the outer thighs, obliques, and shoulders.

How To Do

  1. Start with the side-plank position.
  2. Straighten your back straight and look forward.
  3. Slowly raise your leg towards the ceiling.
  4. Hold for 10 seconds and bring it down.
  5. Repeat on both sides.

4. Russian Twists

Russian Twists

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Russian twists work on the complete core focusing more on the obliques.

How To Do

  1. Sit on the floor and stretch your legs.
  2. Lean back at an angle of 45°, bend the legs from the knee, forming a V-shape.
  3. Twist the torso from one side to the other without moving the legs.
  4. You may hold an 8-10 pounds dumbbell or a medicine ball.
  5. Move slowly and breathe.
  6. Do 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps.

5. Side Bends

Side Bends

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This exercise might seem easy, but the key here is to control the movements to engage the obliques.

How To Do

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold a medium-to-heavy weight dumbbell in your right hand.
  3. Lower the right hand till the knee. Keep the back straight and hold the position for 10 seconds.
  4. Slowly lift your body to the starting position.
  5. Now bend the upper body in the other direction.
  6. Do 1-2 sets of 8-12 reps.

6. V- Ups

V- Ups

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This oblique workout engages all the core muscles. V-ups are quite intense.

How To Do

  1. Lie on the floor with your face up.
  2. Straighten your legs and arms and align your body in a straight line.
  3. Lift your torso and legs together, forming a V-shape. Try to reach your toes.
  4. Lower your body slowly to the starting position.

7. Single-Arm Overhead Press

Single-Arm Overhead Press

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This exercise works out your entire body and shoulders.

How To Do

  1. Grip a dumbbell in one hand.
  2. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  3. Push the dumbbell overhead. Squeeze and hold your core while you do it.
  4. Hold for a few seconds and then get back to the starting position.
  5. Switch and repeat with the other hand.
  6. Do 2-4 sets of 6-12 reps.

8. T- Rotation

T- Rotation

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This classic oblique exercise improves core stability, flexibility, and allows greater spine mobility.

How To Do

  1. Get into the push-up position keeping your arms straight.
  2. Shift your body weight onto your left arm.
  3. Lift your right hand and rotate your torso up and right until you are facing sideways.
  4. Your body should form a T-shape.
  5. Hold for 3 seconds.
  6. Get to the starting position and repeat for the left side.
  7. Keep your hips and body raised along a straight line all through.
  8. Do 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps.

9. Bird Dog

Bird Dog

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Bird-dog works on your obliques on both sides alternatively and can be scaled up with variation as well.

How To Do

  1. Get into a tabletop position.
  2. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders and your knees right under your hips.
  3. Lift and stretch your left arm and right leg outwards simultaneously.
  4. Pause for 5 to 10 seconds.
  5. Get back to the tabletop position.
  6. Repeat the same on the other side.
  7. Do 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps.

You can challenge yourself further by elevating your knees and hovering a few inches off the floor.

10. Heel Taps

Heel Taps

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Heel taps are like side crunches on the ground that work on your abdominal muscles.

How To Do

  1. Lie on your back, arms by your side, and the heels near the glutes.
  2. Lift your shoulder, bend sideways, and touch your right heel with your right hand.
  3. Next, try to touch the left heel with your other hand.
  4. Do 2-3 sets of 12-16 reps.

11. Bicycle Crunch

Bicycle Crunch

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The key in this exercise is to keep your back flush to the ground while you perform the bicycle movement routine.

How To Do

  1. Lie on your back, bend your knees.
  2. Place your hands on the sides of your head.
  3. Lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the ground.
  4. Lift a leg and bend the knee towards the chest. As you bend, bring the opposite elbow towards the knee.
  5. Release slowly and repeat on the other side.
  6. Do 3-4 sets of 15-20 reps.

12. Cross-Body Mountain Climber

Cross-Body Mountain Climber

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This variation of the regular mountain climber focuses on your abs, hips, and chest muscles.

How To Do

  1. Get into the high plank position.
  2. Raise your right knee and push towards your left elbow.
  3. Lower the leg down back.
  4. Raise your left knee and push towards your right elbow.
  5. Start slowly and gradually scale up the speed.
  6. Do 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps.

To Sum Up

Oblique exercises strengthen the core muscles, support your spine, and help maintain posture. Doing these exercises will reduce strain on your back and help balance your way through day-to-day activities. Try the exercises discussed in the article to sculpt your oblique muscles and core.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

How do you lose oblique fat?

Do oblique and abs exercises to lose the oblique fat or love handles.

What exercises make your obliques smaller?

All the exercises mentioned in the article can sculpt and tone your obliques.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. ‘Anatomy’ ‘Abdomen and Pelvis’ Anterolateral Abdominal Wall
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK525975/
  2. The Effects of Abdominal Muscle Coactivation on Lumbar Spine Stability
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9460158/
  3. Abdominal Trunk Muscle Weakness and Its Association with Chronic Low Back Pain and Risk of Falling in Older Women
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6547466/
  4. Core Strength Training for Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4395677/
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