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DEC 13, 2023

The Best Oblique Workouts: Exercises to Strengthen and Tone Your Core


Discover the best oblique workouts for a stronger core. This guide features top exercises to tone and enhance your oblique muscles effectively.

Read time: 6 minutes

Are you bored with your regular core routine or struggling to cinch that waistline? Then get ready to twist your workout. Today we’re talking about the oblique muscles - the often overlooked yet vital components of your core. Because this set of muscles holds the secret for a well-defined midsection and an enviable hourglass figure.

Engaging these muscles can also shore up your abdomen, reduce waist-cinching strains, and enhance functional fitness. So set yourself on the fast track to a killer body by incorporating our carefully selected oblique workouts, all designed to ignite those side muscles like never before!

Defining Oblique Training

The obliques are a group of core muscles on the sides of your abdominal region. They consist of the external obliques, which run diagonally downward from your ribs to your hips, and the internal obliques, which run in the opposite direction underneath the external obliques. When these muscles are targeted through specific exercises, they help strengthen and tone your core while providing stability and support to your spine and pelvis.

Benefits of Strengthening Obliques

Strengthening your obliques goes beyond just achieving a visually appealing set of abs. Working on these muscles offers a range of benefits that extend to various aspects of your physical wellbeing.

  • Strong obliques contribute to improved posture and spinal alignment. These muscles also play a crucial role in maintaining proper posture by supporting the spine and minimizing strain on other structures in the body. As a result, you may experience reduced back pain and discomfort.

  • Well-developed obliques enhance overall core strength and stability. And when your core is strong, it provides a solid foundation for movements performed in everyday activities and sports or fitness pursuits. Meaning, you can improve your performance and prevent injuries by engaging your obliques in functional movements like lifting, twisting, or bending.

  • Additionally, targeting the oblique muscles can help improve rotational movements and enhance athletic performance. This is because strong obliques allow a more efficient power transfer throughout your body, whether swinging a golf club or throwing a punch in boxing.

  • Strengthening the obliques can contribute to better balance and coordination. These muscles assist in stabilizing the torso during dynamic activities, making it easier to maintain control over your movements and react swiftly to changes in direction.

Introductory Exercises for Obliques

If you're new to oblique workouts and want to strengthen and tone your core, starting with some introductory exercises is a great way to build a solid foundation. These exercises will help you familiarize yourself with engaging your oblique muscles while improving overall core stability. Let's explore a few effective introductory exercises:

One of the most popular exercises for training the obliques is the Side Plank. It targets the muscles on the sides of your waist and promotes core strength and stability.

  • To perform a Side Plank, lie on one side with your legs straight, propping up your upper body on your forearm.

  • Raise your hips to form a straight line and brace your core.

  • Hold this position for a set amount of time before switching sides.

For those looking to add more emphasis on the obliques, the Copenhagen Side Plank is an excellent choice. This exercise increases the challenge by incorporating elevation and rotation.

  • Get on the floor on one side.

  • Place one elbow beneath your shoulder.

  • Extend your legs out.

  • Raise your body off the floor using your elbow and foot.

  • This exercise engages the obliques and other muscles in the core.

If you want to take your side plank to the next level, add abduction with the Star Plank.

  • Start in a side plank position with your elbow beneath your shoulder

  • Bend both knees together on the floor

  • Push your elbow and bottom knee onto the floor

  • Press upward while raising your top arm and leg in the air.

  • The Star Plank challenges the obliques and works on shoulder stability and hip mobility.

Incorporating these introductory exercises into your workout routine will give you a strong foundation for targeting and strengthening your oblique muscles. Just remember to focus on proper form and gradually increase the intensity as your core strength improves.

Advanced Oblique Workouts

For those looking to take their oblique workouts to the next level, incorporating advanced exercises can provide the challenge and intensity needed to strengthen and tone your core. These exercises go beyond basic movements and engage multiple muscle groups, including the obliques, for a more comprehensive workout. Let's explore three advanced oblique workouts to help you achieve your fitness goals.

Plank Rotation, Kettlebell Windmill, Pallof Press

Plank Rotation: This exercise combines the stability of a plank with torso rotation to target the obliques.

  • Begin in a high plank position, ensuring your body forms a straight line from head to toe.

  • From here, push one hand into the ground while lifting the other hand off the floor, rotating your torso to reach up to the sky.

  • Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

  • Focus on maintaining proper form and engaging your core muscles throughout the movement.

Kettlebell Windmill: The kettlebell windmill is an effective exercise for core training while promoting shoulder stability and hip mobility.

  • Start in a half-kneeling stance, press a kettlebell overhead, and keep your ribcage tight by squeezing your abs and glutes.

  • Look up at the kettlebell as you push your butt back and rotate your chest open, lowering down towards the floor.

  • Reverse the movement to return to the starting position.

  • This exercise requires control and coordination, so start with lighter weights until you feel comfortable with the movement.

Pallof Press: The Pallof press is an anti-rotation exercise that targets multiple muscles, including the obliques.

  • Stand or kneel beside a cable machine or use a resistance band tethered to a low anchor point.

  • Hold the handle with tension while bracing your core and squeezing your glutes.

  • Extend your arms before you and resist any rotational force by keeping your torso stable.

  • The Pallof press can be performed by standing or kneeling, allowing for variations in intensity.

Implementing Exercises in Your Routine

Consistency is key to achieving fitness goals and finding ways to integrate these oblique exercises seamlessly can make a significant difference in your progress.

  • One approach is to designate specific weekly days for focusing on your obliques. For example, you could dedicate Mondays and Thursdays to oblique workouts while reserving other days for different muscle groups or cardiovascular activities. Establishing a routine will make you more likely to stick with it and see consistent results over time.

  • Another strategy is incorporating oblique exercises into a full-body workout routine. For instance, if you typically perform compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, or bench presses, you can add oblique-specific movements between sets to ensure a balanced workout. This integration allows you to efficiently target your core while simultaneously working on other muscle groups.

Workout Plans and Progress Tracking

Tracking your oblique workout plans and monitoring your progress helps you stay motivated and ensure that you're making steady improvements. It provides valuable insights into your routines' effectiveness and allows you to adapt them accordingly.

  • Tracking your oblique workouts as GPS navigation for your fitness journey helps you stay on course and navigate any detours.

  • There are various ways to track your progress. One simple method is keeping a workout journal or using a mobile app specifically designed for fitness tracking. These tools allow you to record the exercises performed, weights used, sets and reps completed, and any notes or modifications made during the workout. Reviewing your entries can help you identify patterns, strengths, and areas where you may need to push yourself further.

  • Additionally, taking progress photos or measurements at regular intervals can visually represent your oblique strength and toning improvements. Comparing these photos or measurements over time can be incredibly motivating and clearly indicate your progress.

  • By consistently tracking your workouts and progress, you can identify trends, set goals, and make informed adjustments to optimize your oblique training.

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Written by Matthew Stogdon

Matt has been writing for two decades, across print and digital media. He is also an accomplished filmmaker, with several accolades under his belt.

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