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6 Best Oblique Exercises for Strong Obliques

Strengthen and define the obliques with this targeted ab workout: the best oblique exercises at home. Six of the most effective ab exercises to build a strong core, specifically hitting the “side abs” or obliques. This quick and effective oblique workout includes beginner and advanced progressions of each exercise.



 

Build a strong, defined core with this targeted oblique workout.

Although the rectus abdominis (“six-pack abs” muscles), transverse abdominis (deep core muscles), and lower abs may get more attention, the obliques are a key component to a strong core.

The obliques, or the muscles along the sides of the torso, play a significant role in stabilizing the core.

A strong core is essential for maintaining good posture, preventing lower back pain, and enhancing overall stability in daily activities and workouts.

This quick oblique workout combines bodyweight oblique exercises, dumbbell oblique exercises, rotational oblique exercises, and anti-rotational oblique exercises. This combination strengthens the sides of the abs in multiple ways and different planes of motion.

Oblique exercises are particularly functional, stabilizing your torso through the many twists and rotations it performs in your everyday activities.

This type of functional core training leads to improved stability, reduced risk of injury, improved posture, and better coordination.

two women performing a side plank as part of best oblique exercises post

Best Oblique Exercises FAQs

What Is The Most Effective Oblique Exercise?

The wood chop exercise is one of the most effective movements for targeting the internal and external obliques. The wood chop involves movement in multiple planes—specifically, the transverse plane (twisting motions). Many of our daily movements involve twisting and rotations, making the wood chop an excellent example of functional strength training, or an exercise that helps you perform activities in everyday life more easily.

How Do I Strengthen My Obliques?

The abs and obliques, just like any other muscle group, benefit from strength training. Add resistance to oblique exercises with dumbbells, a cable machine, or a medicine ball for best results.

What Is Better: Rotation Exercises or Anti-Rotation Exercises?

Including both rotational exercises and anti-rotational exercises in your oblique workout provides a comprehensive approach to strengthening your core muscles. Rotational exercises (motions that involve the torso twisting) are a form of functional training, mimicking many of our daily movements such as bending and twisting. Whereas anti-rotational exercises (motions that focus on keeping the torso stable) are important for core stability and injury prevention.

What Are The Best Ab Exercises?

The best ab exercises are ones that strengthen multiple core muscles at once, such as planks or dead bugs. These muscles include the erector spinae (lower back muscles), obliques (muscles along the sides of the body), rectus abdominis (“six-pack abs” muscles), transverse abdominis (deep core muscles), and posterior and anterior deltoids (back muscles).

two women performing bicycle crunches as example of oblique exercises

Six of the best oblique exercises to strengthen and define the ab muscles along the sides of the body.

Add this oblique workout to your weekly workout routine 1-2 times a week to build core strength and definition. I recommend alternating this workout with our other ab workouts to avoid workout boredom.

Workout Equipment:

Single Medium Dumbbell. We’re using 15-20 lbs.

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woman performing v-up as example of oblique exercise

Workout Instructions:

Follow along with the guided Oblique Workout on YouTubeled by certified personal trainer and certified fitness instructor, Lindsey Bomgren. 

Your Workout Looks Like This:

  • 6 Oblique Exercises (10 exercises in total, repeating on left/right as needed)
  • Timed Intervals (40 seconds of work, 20 seconds of rest)
  • Repeat All 10 Moves x 1 Set (No Repeats)

Workout Outline

  1. Wood Chop (Right)
  2. Windmill (Right)
  3. Wood Chop (Left)
  4. Windmill (Left)
  5. Forearm Plank Knee Pull and Opposite Hip Dip (Right)
  6. Side Plank and Oblique Crunch (Right)
  7. Forearm Plank Knee Pull and Opposite Hip Dip (Left)
  8. Side Plank and Oblique Crunch (Left)
  9. Bicycle Crunches
  10. Oblique V-Up
two women performing woodchop exercise as part of best oblique exercises

Prefer to Watch On YouTube?

youtube icon Oblique Workout

6 Best Oblique Exercises

Wood Chop

Targets: Internal obliques, external obliques, deep transversus abdominis muscles, hips, back and shoulders.

One of the most effective oblique exercises, the wood chop transfers weight across the midline of the body, engaging the sides of the core.

two women performing woodchop exercise as part of oblique workout

How To Do Wood Chops

  1. Start standing in an athletic stance, feet shoulder-width apart, soft bend in your knees, core engaged. Stagger your feet, so your left foot is slightly behind your right. Most of your weight is in your right foot.
  2. Hold one dumbbell horizontally between your hands.
  3. Bend your knees as you bring the dumbbell to the outside of your left knee.
  4. Then exhale as you use your legs, hips, glutes, abs and obliques to drive the dumbbell crossbody, extending your arms up overhead on the right side. Think left knee to right shoulder.
  5. Lower the dumbbell with control back towards your left knee, returning to the starting position.

Windmill

Targets: Obliques, abs, upper back, outer glutes, inner thighs, hamstrings, upper body and shoulders.

two women demonstrating windmills as example of best oblique exercises

How To Do Windmills

  1. Start in a wide stance, holding a dumbbell in your left hand, directly above your shoulder.
  2. Rotate your right foot out 90 degrees so your right toes are pointing towards the top of your mat, then pivot your left foot slightly inwards (about a 45 degree angle). The heel of your right foot is aligned with the arch of your left foot.
  3. Focus on creating and maintaining length through your waist as you hinge at the hips, sliding your right arm down your right leg. Keep your left hand directly above your left shoulder, maintaining a straight line with the dumbbell. Range of motion will look different for everyone
  4. Then, squeeze through your obliques to pull your torso back upright, returning to starting position.

Modification: Omit the dumbbell, performing this exercise with just your bodyweight.

Forearm Plank Knee Pull and Opposite Hip Dip

Targets: Abs, core, obliques and shoulders.

two women performing low plank knee pulls as example of oblique exercises

How To Do Forearm Plank Knee Pulls and Opposite Hip Dips

  1. Start in a low plank position, forearms on the mat with shoulders stacked over elbows. Think about forming one long line from your head through your heels, engaging your core to make sure your hips don’t pike up or drop down.
  2. Pull your right knee to your right elbow or tricep, then return to a low plank position.
  3. Then, rotate your hips to the right as you drop your left hip towards the ground.
  4. Squeeze through the sides of your torso to lift your hips to return to a low plank hold.
  5. Continue this pattern, alternating one forearm plank knee pull with a hip dip.

Modification: Drop to your knees or elevate your hands on a bench or couch to reduce the intensity.

Side Plank and Oblique Crunch

Targets: Internal and external oblique muscles and transverse abdominus.

Adding an oblique crunch to a side plank hold hits the obliques on both sides of the body, making this a particularly effective oblique exercise.

two women performing a side plank and oblique cruch as part of oblique workout

How To Do Side Planks and Oblique Crunches

  1. Start lying on your right side, right forearm on the mat, right shoulder stacked over right elbow.
  2. Press into your forearm and lift your hips. Balance on the outside edge of your right foot, stacking your left foot on top of your right foot. Option to drop your right knee to the mat for more support.
  3. Extend your left hand overhead. Focus on keeping your hips high and even (stacked over each other). Hold this side plank position.
  4. Then, crunch through the left side of your torso (left obliques) to pull the left knee and left elbow together to touch. Flex the muscles along the right side of your body (right obliques) to keep your hips from sagging.
  5. Return your left leg to starting position, stacked on top of your right foot.

Bicycle Crunches

Targets: Rectus abdominis, transverse abdominal muscles and obliques.

Rotational oblique exercises, such as bicycle crunches, activate the core when you twist to reach across the midline of the body.

two women performing bicycle crunches as part of oblique workout

How To Do Bicycle Crunches

  1. Lie on your back, lower back pressing firmly into the mat. Bring your legs to a raised 90 degree bend.
  2. Lift your head, neck and shoulders off the ground. Place your hands behind your head and think about pressing your head into your fingertips. 
  3. Lift your right elbow towards your left knee as you extend your right leg long.
  4. With control, return to the starting position and repeat on the other side. Pulling your left elbow towards your right knee as you extend your left leg long.
  5. Return to the starting position and repeat this ‘bicycling’ movement, alternating knee to elbow crunches.

Modification: Perform with knees bent, reducing the range of motion.

Oblique V-Up

Targets: The external oblique, internal oblique and rectus abdominis.

One of the most advanced oblique exercises, the V-Up is a challenging exercise requiring deep core strength.

two women performing oblique v-ups as part of oblique workout

How To Do Oblique V-Ups

  1. Lie on your right side on the mat. Keep your body in a straight line, with your left leg stacked on top of the right, slight bend in the knees.
  2. Place your left hand behind your head and your right arm extended in front of you, supporting you on the ground.
  3. Engage your core, especially the obliques, and lift both legs while simultaneously lifting your upper body off the floor. The goal is to have your legs and left elbow move toward each other. Your elbow should be pointing at your knee when your leg is fully abducted.
  4. Hold for a few seconds, then reverse the movement by lowering the legs and upper body to the mat.

Modification: Lying on your side, perform an oblique side crunch, keeping both legs touching the ground.

Pin this Workout: Best Oblique Exercises (Video)

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