There are a million and one ways to train your abs. You can do ab workouts with resistance bands. And you can easily train your abs right at home. However, one important point to remember is to train your entire core, not just what you can easily see in the front. This means targeting your lower abs, your back, and your obliques. In this blog, we’ll focus on 23 oblique exercises you can do with a range of equipment — or none at all.
Wait, What are Your Obliques?
Your obliques run along the sides of your core. Technically, they’re made up of the external and internal obliques, with the external muscle being the thickest. Strengthening them is going to give you a more chiseled and defined waistline. But it’s not just about aesthetics. Your obliques also protect your spine during any movements that require bending, rotating, or twisting the back.
The reason we care about this is that bending, twisting, and rotating can put the back in a vulnerable position. This is often the moment when an athlete “tweaks” something. So, solid obliques can better support you during movements like this.
23 Oblique Exercises for a Stronger Core
Now that you know where your obliques are and why they matter, let’s get into 23 oblique exercises that are going to have your core burning with the fire of a thousand suns.
1. Mountain Climbers with a Twist
Let’s put a spin on your traditional mountain climbers to better target your obliques As a bonus, this is a great cardio challenge that gets your heart rate up.
Focus on your form, here, and don’t rush it. Really think of driving the bent leg up and toward your elbow. If you want to kick things up a notch, add a push-up after each rep.
3. Single-Arm Farmer Carry (AKA the Suitcase Carry)
The farmer’s carry is perfect for building core strength. When you hold weight in only one hand, you have to stabilize your torso and fight that weight to stop it from pulling you down to the side. This is what forces your obliques to work so hard.
There are many variations of this. But the point is that you start high and move down and across your body. You can do this with a medicine ball, dumbbell, kettlebell, cable, or band. You can also do it kneeling.
5. Bicycle Crunches
This is a go-to when it comes to oblique exercises. Be sure to twist at your waist, as opposed to simply yanking and forcing your elbow to the opposite knee. If you do that, you’re not really using your obliques.
6. Side Crunches
The key here is to try to lift that bottom shoulder off the ground. One tip is to rest your bottom hand on your obliques to ensure they’re flexed. For side crunches, you can keep your legs bent or straight.
7. Russian Twists
Start with your body weight and once that’s too easy, grab a dumbbell, kettlebell, weighted ball, or a plate to up the challenge!
8. Standing Crunch (AKA Side Bend)
You can hold any type of weighted object in your hand. Or, put a barbell on your back and see how many reps you can get through before your body starts to cry.
9. Renegade Row with Rotation
The traditional renegade row stops with a dumbbell row in the push-up position. Add in that final rotation and your obliques are majorly going to feel it.
10. Heel Taps
It doesn’t get much simpler than this. Remember to keep your head and shoulders slightly lifted off the ground, and really crunch your sides into those taps.
11. Stir the Pot
For this one, you need a stability ball. Some people make circles with their arms, while others like to move side to side or corner to corner.
12. Hip Tap Planks
Get in your standard plank position and then tap each hip to the floor. Some people call this the rainbow plank!
13. Side Plank
If you’re having a hard time balancing, try staggering your feet. Want to make it harder? Pulse up and down, gently tapping your bottom hip on the ground. You can also lift your top leg and do a one-legged side plank.
14. Sit-Ups with a Twist
Think of touching your elbow to the opposite knee. You can make this more challenging by holding a small weight either at your chest or behind your head.
15. Side V-Ups
Note the scaling option! If your bottom hip is aching, try putting an ab mat or an additional towel under it for extra cushioning.
16. Single-Arm Deadlift (AKA Suitcase Deadlift)
Similar to the one-arm farmer’s carry, your torso has to fight from being pulled toward the side holding the weight.
Try this without weight first, to get a feel for it. Then, hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in the hand pointing toward the ceiling.
18. Turkish Get-Ups
Try this first without weight — it’s a little tricky! You can also do a half-Turkish get-up, where the movement ends once you lift your hips up off the ground. Then, you just go in reverse before doing the next rep.
19. Lunge and Twist
As an added bonus, your glutes and quads get a nice burn here, too. Be sure to keep that front knee over your toes. Both hips and knees should be bent at roughly 90 degrees.
20. Pallof Press
The Pallof Press is lesser-known. You can use a cable or a resistance band looped around the rig.
21. Med Ball Tosses to the Side
This is a great one to improve explosiveness in general. You can also use a smaller weighted ball.
22. Side Plank Reach-Under
Here’s another variation of your standard side plank. Once again, you can stagger your feet for better balance, if you feel yourself constantly tipping over.
23. Banded Bird Dog
You might think bird dogs are only for yogis, but athletes of all types can build strengths in their obliques with this movement by adding in a resistance band.
Training your obliques doesn’t haven’t to be complicated. Start incorporating these oblique exercises into your weekly programming, and you’ll have better core strength in no time.
And if you need to stock up on equipment or gear, head over to our shop and grab what you need!