If a six-pack is your aim or you’re looking to take your core exercises to the next level, it goes without saying that focusing your efforts on working your abs is a logical step.
However, the abs make up a tiny part of the core muscle groups, and it’s essential to cover them all in your workouts, whether you want to protect yourself from injury, get stronger in a particular lift, or you’re trying to make those abs pop out more.
As part of the core, many people pay the slightest attention to the obliques, yet they have a crucial role in keeping us mobile.
They run down both sides of the waist, from the rib cage to the hip bones, and we wouldn’t be able to twist from side to side or bend down to one side without them.
Furthermore, strong, healthy obliques mean the reduced risk of lower back pain as your mobility and functionality will be at a level that protects you more from injury.
1. Side Bend
Side bend is a straightforward exercise that anyone can do. Moreover, using your bodyweight alone to perform the movement is more than sufficient, especially for newbies.
If you’re an intermediate or advanced trainer, including additional weight will make the exercise more challenging.
- Stand with both feet shoulder-width apart. The aim here is to zone in on your obliques and increase flexibility, hence why the feet are in this position.
- Allow your hands to hang down by your sides; however, ensure your grip is comfortable if you’re using weights.
- Now bend to the right as far as you safely can, without moving your lower body.
- Contract your oblique muscles and return to the starting position.
- If you’re using weights, hold one weight in your right hand to make your obliques work hard to lift the additional weight.
Do three sets of 15-20 repetitions.
2. Russian Twist
- Sit with both knees bent at about 90 degrees. You can do this exercise with bodyweight only or use additional weight by holding a dumbbell or kettlebell to make it more challenging.
- Now lean back until your body forms straight and your back is about 45 degrees from the floor. Contract your core and keep your eyes forward while keeping your arms straight.
- Twist your torso to the right, ensuring your eyes follow your hands or weight.
Do 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions.
3. Hip Thrust
You can do the hip thrust with bodyweight only or a barbell. I’d recommend doing the movement itself for newbies as this should be enough.
- Lie on your back and place your hands under the bottom of your back near the tailbone.
- Now pull your stomach in towards your spine.
- Lift your hips 3-4 inches off the ground and keep your legs pointed straight towards the ceiling.
- Ensure your head rests on the floor; slowly lower your hips back down and return your legs to the starting position.
Do 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions.
- Using a dumbbell, hold it by each end to the right side of your body.
- Now slightly squat down and turn your trunk to the right.
- Stand up, and simultaneously keep your arms extended; swing the dumbbell up and across your body in a controlled manner by twisting your torso to the left.
- As you do this, pivot on your right toe, bringing the dumbbell to an end over your left shoulder.
- Return to start position.
Do 2-3 sets of 8-10 repetitions.
5. Kettlebell Windmill
- At shoulder level height, hold the kettlebell up with your right hand. Place your right foot under your hip while simultaneously slightly angling your left foot out.
- Press the kettlebell overhead and stabilize your shoulder. Put your left hand on the outside of your left thigh, palm facing up.
- Begin the movement by rotating your torso toward the floor, with your left hand tracking down the inside of your left leg.
- Stare directly at the kettlebell while shifting the weight into your right hip.
- At the end of the movement, reverse out of it slowly until your body forms straight, and you’re standing. Ensure your right arm is locked, yet your elbow is slightly relaxed/soft throughout. Complete the necessary amount of reps, then switch sides.
Do two sets of 10-12 repetitions.
6. High-Pulley Oblique Cable Crunch
- Attach a D handle to the high-pulley cable machine and choose your starting weight.
- Hold the handle slightly behind your head, shoulder-width apart, starting on your right side.
- Pull the weight down, and as you do, crunch your obliques hard to help you bring it down.
- Hold for 1-2 seconds before resisting the weight back up.
- Complete all reps for one side before switching sides.
Do 3-4 sets of 10-12 repetitions.
7. Cross-Body Mountain Climber
- Start in a plank position with both hands shoulder-width apart and feet hip-width apart. Ensure your body is in a straight line from head to toe.
- Contract your core and lift your right knee underneath you towards your left elbow while keeping your eyes looking downwards.
- Bring your right foot back to the starting position and repeat on the left to complete the rep.
Do three sets of ten repetitions.
8. Side Plank
- Get yourself in the high plank position, legs extended, feet together, and both hands flat on the floor underneath your shoulders.
- Put all your weight onto your right hand and twist your body to lift your left hand high above your head. Also, ensure you rest most of your weight on your right leg.
- Hold this position for 20-30 seconds.
- Return to the plank position and repeat the transition to the other side, ensuring all your weight is resting on your left hand and leg, with your right arm in the air.
- Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat.
Do two sets for 30 seconds on each side.
9. Walking Lunge With Rotation
- Stand straight with both feet together and arms out in front of you, making sure your elbows are bent at 90 degrees.
- Lunge forward with your left leg until your thigh reaches parallel, turning your torso over your left thigh to work the oblique.
- Return to standing, twisting your torso back to the middle.
- Repeat pattern again by stepping forward with your right leg.
10. Single-Arm Kettlebell Swing
- Start a couple of feet behind the kettlebell, with both feet a touch wider than hip-width apart.
- Hinging at the hips, reach down and grab the kettlebell with one hand. Make sure your grip is soft but firm, and hike the bell behind you.
- Ensure the bottom of the kettlebell is above your knees as you hike it backward. Drive your hips explosively to bring the bell back out in front of you while raising it to chest level with the momentum of your hips. Refrain from tugging with your arm.
11. Bird Dog
- Put all fours on the ground, ensuring your hands are in line with your shoulders. Your knees should also be in line with your hips.
- Contract your core and reach out your right arm and left leg simultaneously.
- Your lower back should be stable and your hips square.
- Return to the start again and repeat, rotating arms and legs each set.
12. Bicycle Crunch
- Lie on your back with your knees bent to 90 degrees so that your lower legs are parallel to the ground. Place your fingers on the side of your head and lift your shoulders off the floor.
- Twist your upper body to the right as you simultaneously pull your right knee in until it touches your left wrist. Straighten your left leg.
- Return to start position and repeat on the right.
Do oblique workouts slim your waist?
No, not on their own. Slimming your waist is done through a combination of exercise and correct nutrition. Oblique exercises alone will not reduce your waistline or give you chiseled-looking obliques.
What is the best oblique exercises?
I don’t think there is one best exercise for the obliques, but I rate the bird dog, side plank, and kettlebell windmill to train the obliques effectively.
Why can’t I do a side plank?
To do the side plank, you need to have strong oblique muscles. Not everyone automatically has them. Most people don’t. However, incorporating solid core exercises into your weekly workout program should see a vast improvement.
About the author
I'm Chris. I have a vast interest in all things relating to health, wellness, exercise, and nutrition. I also love to improve my mindset and learn how to increase my productivity. If you'd like to say hello or ask me a question, please visit my contact page, and I'd be glad to hear from you. Alternatively, you can find me on Twitter (@liveliftlife).