9 of the Best Oblique Exercises for Core Strength

Published May 13, 2019
<article> <section> <p>Often overlooked, having strong obliques is essential for both fitness and everyday health. Your oblique muscles connect two of the largest and most important muscles in your body (the abs and the lower back) and prevent things like lower back pain.</p> <p>Some people believe strong obliques aren’t necessary for a strong torso. They think having a six-pack is the only thing that matters.</p> <p>But we disagree...</p> <p>In this article, we’ll make a case for why you need to add oblique exercises to your training. Check out the nine best oblique exercises and fitness progressions at the bottom!</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>What Are the Obliques?</header> <p>Your obliques are the muscles on either side of your ab muscles, or <i>transverse abdominis</i>. </p> <p>As a reference point, your obliques are the muscles located under your ‘love handles’—though after your <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/" rel="noreferrer" title="total body transformation">total body transformation</a>, there may not be much there to love besides muscle.</p> <p>The obliques are responsible for helping with rotational exercises, stabilizing your core, and connecting the transverse abdominis (your abs) to your <i>latissimus dorsi</i> (a large muscle in your back). </p> <p>Strong obliques allow you to rotate your torso, sit up, and stabilize your core during functional exercises like squats and push-ups. </p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Oblique Exercises: Did You Know?</header> <p>A lot of people avoid training their obliques during core workouts because they think it’s too difficult or not worth it. </p> <p>This is because many people believe <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/core-quiz/" rel="noreferrer" title="strong core">having a strong core</a> means having a six-pack. </p> <p>But this isn’t true. </p> <p>Your oblique muscles are actually <i>bigger muscles</i> than your abs, and have just as much, if not more, to do with you having a lean, toned midsection.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>How Can I Tone My Obliques Fast?</header> <p>There is no secret to creating a toned, lean look in your midsection. The fastest way to tone your obliques and torso is to <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/" rel="noreferrer" title="eat healthy">eat healthy</a> and <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/" rel="noreferrer" title="exercise">exercise</a>. </p> <p>Do this consistently, and you’ll add muscle and reduce body fat over time. This is the proven recipe for getting results.</p> <p>But, you can get <i>faster results</i> by prioritizing oblique and <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/core-quiz/" rel="noreferrer" title="core exercises">core exercises</a> during <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/" rel="noreferrer" title="your workouts">your workouts</a>. Using the right fitness exercise progressions (like the nine in this article) will render the quickest results.</p> <p>The good news is these exercises pair perfectly with other full-body functional exercises, which are the best exercises for weight loss and better fitness.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Benefits of Strong Obliques</header> <p>Here are three benefits that will <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/3-simple-tips-for-workout-motivation" rel="noreferrer" title="Benefits of Strong Obliques">motivate you</a> to add oblique exercises to your next workout.</p> <div class="sub-head">1. More Toned Appearance in Your Core</div> <p>Connected to the abs and the lats, your obliques.</p> <p>A common misconception in the fitness world is that training your obliques makes your midsection bulky or too muscular. Actually, the opposite is true. </p> <p>Strong obliques mean strong abs and back muscles. When you eat well and reduce your body fat percentage, your hard work will be waiting for you in the mirror.</p> <div class="sub-head">2. Prevents Injuries and Lower Back Pain</div> <p>The obliques connect your front and back, so keeping them strong is essential for reducing injuries. </p> <p>Just like biceps and triceps work together to keep your elbow healthy, your core and <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/top-5-exercises-to-strengthen-your-lower-back/" rel="noreferrer" title="lower back">lower back</a> work together to stabilize your midsection. If your obliques are weak, your abs or <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/top-5-exercises-to-strengthen-your-lower-back/" rel="noreferrer" title="lower back">lower back</a> must do more to compensate, which leads to tight, weak muscles.</p> <div class="sub-head">3. Improves Performance During Workouts</div> <p>There are no true oblique isolation exercises, which is a good thing. This means any time you train your obliques, you train other core muscles, too.</p> <p>Oblique exercises also work out your <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/top-5-exercises-to-strengthen-your-lower-back/" rel="noreferrer" title="lower back">lower back</a>, abs, hips, and <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/glutes-101-best-exercises-for-your-gluteus-maximus/" rel="noreferrer" title="glutes">glutes</a>. Strengthening these muscles will translate to being better at functional fitness exercises like squats, push-ups, and glute bridges.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>3 Best Beginner Oblique Exercises</header> <p>Use these oblique exercises at the beginning of your fitness progression. </p> <div class="row justify-content-center text-center"> <video autoplay loop muted> <source src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/media/public/Assets/media/exercises/beginner/KNEELING-HIP-UPS-LEFT-SIDE.webm" type="video/webm"> <source src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/media/public/Assets/media/exercises/beginner/KNEELING-HIP-UPS-LEFT-SIDE.mp4" type="video/mp4"> </video> </div> <div class="sub-head">1. Kneeling Hip-Ups</div> <p>In the starting position, press your elbows into the floor and bridge up, bringing your hip to the sky.</p> <p>Avoid sagging too far to the floor on these. Especially if you are just starting out, it’s better to do a few good hip-ups then take a break than to disengage your core and do them sloppily.</p> <p>Do the same amount on both sides so you strengthen your obliques equally.</p> <div class="row justify-content-center text-center"> <video autoplay loop muted> <source src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/media/public/Assets/media/exercises/beginner/KNEELING-SIDE-PLANK-RIGHT-SIDE.webm" type="video/webm"> <source src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/media/public/Assets/media/exercises/beginner/KNEELING-SIDE-PLANK-RIGHT-SIDE.mp4" type="video/mp4"> </video> </div> <div class="sub-head">2. Kneeling Side Plank</div> <p>Kneeling side planks are an isometric position, meaning that you hold the starting position for the duration of the exercise. These are great for keeping your <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/top-5-exercises-to-strengthen-your-lower-back/" rel="noreferrer" title="lower back">lower back</a> strong and injury-free.</p> <p>Take a break once your hips start to go to the floor. Do your best to keep a straight line from your armpit to the knee that is making contact with the floor.</p> <div class="row justify-content-center text-center"> <video autoplay loop muted> <source src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/media/public/Assets/media/exercises/beginner/RUSSIAN-TWIST.webm" type="video/webm"> <source src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/media/public/Assets/media/exercises/beginner/RUSSIAN-TWIST.mp4" type="video/mp4"> </video> </div> <div class="sub-head">3. Russian Twists</div> <p>Russian twists are a perfect example of how oblique exercises train several muscles at once. </p> <p>Lifting your feet off the floor, clasp your hands together and rotate side to side, touching the ground softly each time. Touch <i>both</i> sides and count one repetition.</p> <p>Fight to keep your heels six inches off the floor at all times.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>3 Best Intermediate Oblique Exercises</header> <p>Intermediate exercises for your obliques require more core stabilization. Once you’ve mastered the beginner exercises, give these a shot.</p> <div class="row justify-content-center text-center"> <div class="col-12 col-md-8"> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-bent-knee-lying-twist-0173.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-bent-knee-lying-twist-0173.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-bent-knee-lying-twist-0173.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-bent-knee-lying-twist-LR-0173.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="Bent Knee Lying Twist"> </picture> </div> </div> <div class="sub-head">1. Bent Knee Lying Twist</div> <p>In the starting position, put the back of your hands on the ground straight out to the side.</p> <p>Bring your heels off the floor and bend your knees. Slowly, and while maintaining a tight core, bring both tucked knees to one side. The further you go, the harder it’ll be to come back up. </p> <p>Return to the center, then do the same thing on the other side.</p> <p>You may be laying on the ground but stay tall during this exercise. Avoid letting your lower back arch by keeping your abs glued down in the ‘hollow’ position.</p> <p><b>Pro tip</b>: the more you straighten your knees, the more difficult the exercise gets.</p> <div class="row justify-content-center text-center"> <div class="col-12 col-md-8"> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-half-hip-ups-start-0173.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-half-hip-ups-start-0173.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-half-hip-ups-start-0173.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-half-hip-ups-start-LR-0173.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="Half Hip-Ups"> </picture> </div> </div> <div class="sub-head">2. Half Hip-Ups</div> <p>The goal of this exercise is to mimic full hip-ups (an advanced exercise), but you use a little support from your knee that stays on the ground.</p> <p>Place your hand to the side under your shoulder, and activate your upper body by locking your shoulder into place with your hand.</p> <p>Press up with your hip, going a little higher than a half-kneeling side plank position (see below). Hold, then return to the floor. You should feel a stretch in your obliques at the bottom.</p> <div class="row justify-content-center text-center"> <div class="col-12 col-md-8"> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-half-kneeling-side-planks-0173.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-half-kneeling-side-planks-0173.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-half-kneeling-side-planks-0173.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-half-kneeling-side-planks-LR-0173.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="Half-Kneeling Side Planks"> </picture> </div> </div> <div class="sub-head">3. Half-Kneeling Side Planks</div> <p>A second, more challenging isometric exercise, half-kneeling side planks force the muscles on your front and back side to work together. This is another fantastic way to prevent injuries by increasing core stability.</p> <p>One knee does make contact with the floor. Over time, try to put as much force as you can in your obliques, not the supporting knee. Soon it won’t be on the floor anymore!</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>3 Best Advanced Oblique Exercises</header> <p>Finally, these are our six most challenging and effective oblique fitness exercises you can do right at home.</p> <div class="row justify-content-center text-center"> <div class="col-12 col-md-8"> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/full-hip-ups-0173.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/full-hip-ups-0173.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/full-hip-ups-0173.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/full-hip-ups-LR-0173.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="Full Hip-Ups"> </picture> </div> </div> <div class="sub-head">1. Full Hip-Ups</div> <p>Without one knee supporting, it’s up to your oblique muscles to move you from the floor to the position seen above. It takes a ton of fitness and stability to do this with no support, so start slow!</p> <p>Do the same number on each side.</p> <div class="row justify-content-center text-center"> <div class="col-12 col-md-8"> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/full-side-plank-0173.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/full-side-plank-0173.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/full-side-plank-0173.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/full-side-plank-LR-0173.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="Side Planks"> </picture> </div> </div> <div class="sub-head">2. Side Planks</div> <p>Follow all the principles of a good plank here and notice how straight Coach Tyler’s body is.</p> <p>Everything from his armpit to his outside toe is working to hold him in one straight line. That should be your goal, too. Accept nothing less. If your fitness isn’t there yet, work up to it over time.</p> <div class="row justify-content-center text-center"> <div class="col-12 col-md-8"> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-straight-knee-twists-0173.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-straight-knee-twists-0173.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-straight-knee-twists-0173.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-straight-knee-twists-LR-0173.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="Straight Leg Lying Twists"> </picture> </div> </div> <div class="sub-head">3. Straight Leg Lying Twists</div> <p>A ton of core stability is required to do these with straight legs. Are you ready?</p> <p>The same cues apply here as with the bent knee variation. The further you bring your feet to the ground, the more difficult it will be to bring them back up. Fight to stay tall, and don’t let your lower back arch.</p> <p>Here’s Coach Tyler going about as far as you can go (your fitness level might not be here on day 1):</p> <div class="row justify-content-center text-center"> <div class="col-12 col-md-8"> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-straight-knee-twists-2-0173.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-straight-knee-twists-2-0173.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-straight-knee-twists-2-0173.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/tyler-straight-knee-twists-2-LR-0173.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="Straight Leg Lying Twists"> </picture> </div> </div> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Best Oblique Exercises—Wrapping Up</header> <p>Oblique exercises shouldn’t be overlooked in your fitness program. You should train them just as much as your abs or lower back, because they connect your front side muscles to your back side. </p> <p>With strong obliques, you’ll get injured less, have better performance <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/" rel="noreferrer" title="workouts">during workouts</a>, and have a more toned, lean midsection. </p> <p><i>Without</i> strong obliques, few functional fitness exercises are even possible. </p> <p>Did you like these nine oblique exercises? <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/" rel="noreferrer" title="workouts">Want more workouts</a> you can do at-home to improve your fitness or lose weight with <i>no equipment</i>?</p> <p>Take our <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/core-quiz/" rel="noreferrer" title="core quiz">core quiz</a>, then check out the <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/" rel="noreferrer" title="Warrior Made">Warrior Made</a> community. Our fitness tribe has helped thousands of people lose weight, get healthy, and totally transform their bodies with the right diet and simple-but-effective <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/" rel="noreferrer" title="at-home workouts">at-home workouts</a> and exercise progressions.</p> </section> </article>

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