Core strength is all the buzz these days. And, for good reason. A strong core helps you look great and feel strong. But, your core strength means more than a chiseled six-pack. Your core consists of a whole group of muscles, like the obliques, that all require unique exercises. Learn more about why these muscles are so important below and which oblique exercises could give you the best results.
What Are Oblique Muscles?
Your obliques are the largest of the four major muscle groups that form your core. They run along your side to form a crucial link between your lower and upper body.1
Focused oblique training may help stabilize your entire body and prevent injuries, particularly to the lower back. That’s because strong obliques offer support whenever your body twists and turns. This may help keep you stronger and safer when working out or even when performing everyday tasks.2
How To Target Obliques In A Workout Routine
Obliques are easy to forget about when planning a core workout. It’s common for people to focus on the front of the body (the abs) and overlook the side muscles.3 You can avoid this mistake though by integrating oblique training into your core workout.
The oblique exercises below are designed to focus on this crucial, core muscle group. There are a few exercises you may recognize and some twists on the classics that will help you target your obliques.
Try These Oblique Exercises
These oblique workouts strike a holistic blend between metabolic exercise, resistance strength training, and flexibility fundamentals to give you the best results possible.
You can do most of these exercises with little more than a yoga mat. They’ll help train your obliques using simple rotations and by challenging the muscles with instability or uneven weight. Just make sure to get your doctor’s approval before beginning any new exercise routine.
This obliques workout is one of the best exercises you can do for your midsection. With one small twist after a traditional plank, you can help strengthen your whole core.
- From a plank position, rotate onto one side by placing your forearm under your shoulder.
- Lift your hips and tighten your core, keeping your spine straight.
- Maintain the position for up to a minute, keeping your hips elevated. Repeat on the other side.4
Give your classic sit-up a twist with this fiery obliques workout. A slight rotation at the end of a sit-up can help give your core an extra boost.
- Start in a traditional sit-up position on your back, with knees bent and hands behind your head.
- Lift your torso toward your knees into a sitting position. As you lift, rotate your torso by bringing your left elbow to your right knee.
- Lower, then sit up again, and touch the right elbow to the left knee. Repeat.5
Break up the monotony of the everyday plank with this rigorous plank adaptation. An oblique workout like this can help support posture and hip mobility.
- Start in a traditional plank position. Brace your core, and keep your elbows below your shoulders.
- In that position, bring your left knee up toward your left shoulder. Do the same on your right side.
- Repeat for 30 seconds.6
Standing Trunk Rotations
This obliques exercise harnesses the power of resistance to optimize muscle growth. You’ll need a resistance band to get the most out of these rotational movements.
- Make sure the resistance band is wrapped around a sturdy, stationary object.
- Grab the resistance band with two hands, and take a few steps to the right until the band is tight.
- Extend your arms forward. Keep your weight distributed evenly across both feet.
- Rotate to the right with your torso. Slowly return to the center. Repeat for ten reps.7
The slow and controlled twist of this obliques exercise will give you a full core workout. Dumbbells are a good option for this exercise because you can control the weight, but a resistance band works, too.
- Hold onto the dumbbell with both hands on your right side. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart with a slight bend in the knees.
- Use your torso to slowly twist the weight across your body to the left in a diagonal motion.
- Brace your core muscles to control the swing as you lift up. Rotate until your body is twisted fully to the left.
- Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat.8
Equipped with a medicine ball and a sturdy wall, you can engage a whole slew of muscles – quads, chest, core, glutes, and more.
- Stand with a medicine ball at arm’s length away from a wall. Hold the ball at chest level with your elbows tight at your side.
- Lower down with the ball into a squat position. Keep your chest up and the ball close to your body.
- Then, thrust your body and the ball upward, and throw the ball against the wall.
- Catch the ball after it bounces off the wall and lower back down into a squat. Repeat.9
Dumbbell Side Bends
You can increase the benefits of this everyday stretch with the addition of a little bit of weight.
- Hold on to your side with your left hand, and hold on to a weight with your right.
- With the weighted hand, stretch down towards the ground. Then, return back toward center position and stretch your body toward the left. Repeat the motion.
- Switch the weight and repeat.10
Standing Side Crunch
Have a free second in the office? Try this oblique training routine out. You can do it just about anywhere. The standing position makes this oblique workout a great way to boost balance as well as core strength.
- Place your hands behind your head with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Lift your right knee toward your right elbow while simultaneously bending your torso toward your knee.
- Repeat ten times, then switch sides.11
Forward Lunges With Rotation
You might be noticing a pattern in some of these oblique exercises – the twist. Here it is again, and for good reason. Adding a twist to your lunge forces the glutes to work. This can do wonders for your core.
- From a standing position, step forward with your left foot into a lunge position.
- Reach your arms out. Twist to the right using the muscles of your midsection. As you twist, tighten your core and glutes.
- Slowly bring your arms back to the center position. Step back into the starting position.
- Repeat for the other side for ten reps.12
This gem of an obliques workout might look familiar to a pilates expert. That’s because it’s a great way to strengthen your legs as well as your obliques.
- Start on all fours. Your hands should be under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
- Lift your right leg up, and straighten it straight back parallel to the floor. Kick your leg out away from your body to the side. Keep your knee straight, and try not to lower your leg.
- Bring your leg back, and then lower your knee back down. Repeat on the other side.13
Don’t Skip Oblique Day
The oblique exercises above can help fire up your whole core, but they provide extra focus on your oblique muscles. Keeping these muscles in tip-top shape may help support posture, stability, and core strength. This added strength can enhance high-level training or even make everyday movements, like twisting, easier. After you get started, it may become clear why you never want to skip out on oblique day. Again, make sure to get your doctor’s approval before beginning any new exercise routine.