Life Style

14 Oblique Exercises That Help Build a Stronger Torso

Oblique Exercises Side Plank

The obliques—a network of muscles running between the transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, pelvic floor muscles, the diaphragm, and erector spinae—are a crucial part of your core. All of them pull together to stabilize the body, protect the spine, reduce lower back pain, and help to speed up recoveries to specific injuries.

This crucial set of muscles comprises two parts: The external obliques (which line each side of the rectus abdominis) allow for a twisting motion at the trunk, while the internal obliques (the two muscles lying on top of the external obliques) work alongside them to permit further turning movement. But how do we strengthen them? Ahead, we tapped certified personal trainers to explain how oblique exercises can benefit you, as well as several options you can try in your next workout.


Why Oblique Exercises Are Important

Many of us love a grueling ab workout, but with all those crunches and other moves that target your rectus abdominis, it’s easy to overlook oblique exercises. Maybe you haven’t seen enough to inspire you to integrate these into your workout, or perhaps you just don’t feel as strong in this region. This is totally normal.

In fact, according to Chris Holt, ACE-CPT, “Obliques tend to be weaker than abs, so don’t be alarmed if some exercises feel more challenging.” This is all the more reason to work on those oblique-centric exercises.

Beyond this, it’s important to remind yourself that your core is the foundation for all movement, of which all muscles require equal attention. “Overworking one part of your core and neglecting another could lead to asymmetry and the body overcompensating, causing potential strains and injuries,” Holt says.

Safety Precautions

Before you toss oblique exercises into your workout mix, consider the following safety precautions First, oblique-focused workouts are not suitable for anyone suffering with a lower back injury or who are entering the third trimester of pregnancy, says Trujillo. “If twisting is required as with many oblique exercises, it can add unwanted discomfort, and so it’s best to work on moves that strengthen your core without twisting until you have been cleared to include them again,” she explains.

It’s also imperative to listen to your body and stop if soreness strikes. “Don’t push through any lower back or shoulder pain while performing any of these exercises,” warns Holt, also reminding you to keep a flat spine and your core braced during anti-rotation exercises.

If you’re ready to work on your oblique strength, make sure to stretch and warm up to open the ribs and sides of your body, cautions Jess Rose McDowell, CPT and founder of Kinetic Sweat. “Take your time and do not overload on weight, instead gradually adding it on as your body adjusts, and breathe with each exercise movement,” she says.


Maybe you’ve heard the rumor that oblique-centric exercises “bulk up” your waistline, but this is one of a few oblique-related myths. Unless you’re overworking this muscle group on a daily basis, it’s untrue that these moves will lead you to build bulkier muscle in this area, Trujillo explains. That’s because packing on muscle requires a disciplined training schedule, a high weight load, and a strict, focused diet.

Instead, oblique exercises help to tone and strengthen the body. As explained in further detail by McDowell, “If you incorporate a combination of high repetition bodyweight exercises, or use functional fitness equipment, like a Bosu ball, to target the obliques and abdominals, alongside cardio and a balanced diet, you will actually sculpt your body for a more toned hourglass shape.”

Warmed up and ready to jump in? Give these 14 expert-approved oblique exercises a go.

14 Oblique Exercises To Try

01of 14


You can use a slider or a small hand towel for this oblique exercise.

  • Start in a high plank position with your hands on your mat, then cross your left foot in front of your right, keeping your heels lifted.
  • Rotate your hips, knees, and toes to the right, then bend your knees in towards your right elbow on a slow count to four.
  • Keep your hips up in line with your shoulders and your chest lifted away from the ground.
  • Extend your legs back to starting position, making sure your hips stay rotated.
  • Complete one minute on each side for one round.
02of 14

Side Plank with Rotation

  • Place your right elbow on the mat and stack your feet on the ground. (You can also stack your knees as a modification.)
  • Lift your left arm up to the ceiling. Keep your hips high and start to wrap your top arm down and around, as you slightly rotate your shoulders and chest towards the ground.
  • Unwrap and lift your arm up, back to the starting position.
  • Keep the movement slow and controlled, pushing up out of your shoulder and keeping your hips high.
  • Complete for 30 seconds on each side for three to four rounds.
03of 14

Oblique V-Up

  • Lie on your side with your hip slightly pressed backward so that you’re on the fleshy part of your glute.
  • Keep your legs straight and angle them out slightly in front of your hips.
  • Extend your bottom arm out to a 45-degree angle, with your palm facing the ground.
  • Lift your top arm up to the ceiling and start to fold your body in half, lifting your legs and torso at the same time to form a V shape.
  • Lower down with control and continue for one minute on a slow count to four for each side.


04of 14

Bird Dog

  • Kneel down on all fours in a tabletop position, with your wrists in line with your shoulders and knees under your hips.
  • Keeping your core braced, lift your opposite arm and leg at the same time and lengthen through the fingers and toes.
  • Pause at the top of the movement before rounding your spine as you bend your knee and elbow in towards each other to touch.
  • Lengthen your body and continue with the same side for one minute. Keep the movement slow and controlled.
05of 14

Cross-Body Mountain Climbers

  • Start in a high plank position with your hands on your mat and feet on the ground.
  • Brace your core and bend your left knee in across your body towards your right elbow, then extend and place your left foot back on the ground.
  • Complete the same movement with the right side.
  • You can start slow and then speed it up, making sure your core is engaged and hips stable. Continue for 30-45 seconds.
06of 14

Bicycle Crunch

  • Lie down on your back, with your knees bent and stacked above the hips at a 90-degree angle.
  • Keeping your lower back flat on the mat, brace your core and extend your right leg out (without arching your lower back) while you rotate your right elbow towards your left knee.
  • Pause for a second or two before switching to the left side.
  • Aim for three rounds of 30 seconds.
07of 14

Russian Twist

When it comes to this oblique exercise, proceed with caution—you may want to avoid it if you have any spinal pain or issues with twisting motions.

  • Sit on the floor in an upright position, with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Slowly lean back while keeping your core engaged and your upper back slightly rounded.
  • Cross your hands overtop of the opposite elbows and twist at the waist to rotate the right elbow behind you, then repeat on the left side.
  • You should feel the obliques contracting with each twist.
08of 14

Shoulder Tap

  • In a push-up position, place your hands slightly closer than shoulder-width apart.
  • Extend your legs straight back. (The closer your legs are, the more challenging the movement.)
  • Lift the right hand off the floor and tap your left shoulder, holding for two seconds.
  • Slowly place the arm back down and repeat the same movement with the other hand.
  • Brace your core throughout to stabilize and reduce any rocking motion of the hips.
  • Aim for three 45-second rounds.
09of 14

Side Plank

  • Lie on your side and place your bent elbow directly under your shoulder.
  • Extend your legs straight out, angling them slightly in front of the hips with your feet stacked.
  • Lift your hips up off the floor and maintain a straight line in the body from head to toe.
  • Hold for 20-30 seconds.

You can also perform this exercise with your top foot crossed over the bottom for added stability. Alternatively, drop to your knees and with bent, stacked legs, lift your body into a side plank.

10of 14

Side Plank Dip

  • Lie on your side and place your bent elbow directly under your shoulder.
  • Extend your legs straight out, angled slightly in front of the hips with feet stacked.
  • Lift your hips up off the floor and maintain a straight line in the body from head to toe.
  • From here, dip your hips down towards the mat, squeezing your obliques to help lift back up.
  • Aim for 10 controlled dips on each side for two to three rounds.

This exercise can also be performed on your knees and with bent, stacked legs.

11of 14

Straight Leg Cross-Body Crunch

You can perform this oblique exercise with or without a Bosu ball. The Bosu ball will further challenge your stability and control.

  • Lay flat on your back and place one leg on top of the Bosu ball with your calf over the center, keeping your leg straight.
  • Bend your other leg and rest your heel on the side of the Bosu ball (ensure your heel is on the ball and to the side of your straight leg).
  • Placing your arms behind your head for support, slowly lift into a sit-up position, twisting your upper body and tapping your elbow to the bent knee.
  • Make sure your straight leg is activated throughout, with your foot flexed.
  • Repeat on the opposite side, maintaining a steady breathing pattern.

Try not to lift either leg off the Bosu Ball during each set.

12of 14

Outside Toe Tap

As with the last one, feel free to perform this exercise with or without a Bosu ball.

  • Place both feet hip-width apart and flat on the Bosu ball.
  • Lie down on your back with your hands behind your head.
  • Tuck your chin and lift your chest as if you are performing a crunch, then shift your upper body to the right to reach and tap the outer arches of your right foot. Ensure that you shift your core and upper body side to side, rather than doing a regular crunch.
  • Lay back down before lifting up and repeating the exercise on the opposite side.

If you’re unable to reach the outer arches of your feet, lift and shift as far as you can toward your foot.

13of 14

Sitting Overhead Rotation

Perform this exercise with or without a Bosu ball.

  • Sitting on the center of the Bosu ball, keep your back upright, core engaged, and legs together straight out in front of you.
  • With both arms parallel overhead, begin to rotate from side to side, making a half-moon shape as you rotate. It ‘s key to keep your arms straight and twist as far as you can to each side, making sure not to slouch into your back.
  • Activate your core, glutes, and legs with your feet flexed the entire set, and focus on breathing out as you rotate.
14of 14


Perform this exercise with or without a Bosu ball.

  • Lay on your right side with your forearm on the Bosu ball and your elbow directly under your shoulder.
  • Place the rest of your body off the Bosu ball. Either prop your legs up off the ground parallel to each other, or keep your bottom leg on the ground slightly bent for support.
  • With your weight evenly distributed, begin to lift your hips up as high as you can. Keep your entire body engaged.
  • Repeat on the opposite side and focus on breathing out while you’re lifting.


Related posts

Rosie HW Has Finally Launched Her Own Beauty Line—Here’s What’s Worth Buying


10 Ways to Look Your Best on FaceTime or Zoom


A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Glam Vampire Makeup Look for Halloween


How to Clean Burnt Pot: 4 Easy Steps to Give You a Clean Pot like New One


Cosrx Snail Mucin Essence Review: This Miracle Elixir is Key for Hydrated Skin


Benefit Cosmetics: Brand Review and 10 of the Best Products


Leave a Comment