8 Best Oblique Exercises to Make Your Core Rock-Solid – Fitness Volt (2024)

Don’t ignore your oblique muscles! They’re just as critical for a strong core as your abs and lower back muscles. Add the exercises below into your daily workouts to take your oblique muscle strength to the next level.

8 Best Oblique Exercises to Make Your Core Rock-Solid – Fitness Volt (1)

Written byAndrew Peloquin NFPT-CPT

Last Updated onJuly 4, 2021

Ask Question?

When you talk about “core muscles”, most people immediately think about either abs or lower back muscles. Both are critical–abs for that beautiful six-pack, and back muscles for maintaining healthy posture and protecting your spine.

But it’s surprising how often people fail to remember the third member of the “core muscle” group: the obliques.

The obliques are sometimes considered part of your abdominal muscles, as they are located on the front sides of your torso. There are two oblique muscles: the triangle-shaped internal obliques, and the large, thin external obliques.

These muscles play a critical role in your movement—without them, you wouldn’t be able to twist, turn, or bend. They need just as much strengthening as your abs or lower back, and focusing on training them is crucial for developing a strong, injury-resistant core.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best oblique exercises you can do to target these critical core muscles. Not only will this help to strengthen the “twisting” muscles on your sides, but building strong obliques can help to tighten up the sides of your stomach (thereby eliminating the dreaded “muffin top”).

Incorporate these into your weekly workout sessions—either as a part of your abs workout, or in a day on their own—and you’ll build a rock-solid core that will keep you moving easily for the rest of your life.

Best Oblique Exercises: Hide

  • The 8 Best Oblique Exercises to Integrate Into Your Workouts
    • 1. Bicycle Crunch
    • 2. Cross-Body Mountain Climber
    • 3. Heel Taps
    • 4. Woodchoppers
    • 5. Side Plank
    • 6. Hanging Oblique Raise
    • 7. Medicine Ball Rotational Toss
    • 8. Side Bend
  • Conclusion

The 8 Best Oblique Exercises to Integrate Into Your Workouts

1. Bicycle Crunch

8 Best Oblique Exercises to Make Your Core Rock-Solid – Fitness Volt (2)

This exercise targets your abdominal muscles, but thanks to the twisting unilateral (one side only) movement, you pay extra special attention to your obliques. It’s an amazingly simple exercise that anyone can do, but it’s hard enough that you’ll feel the burn within a matter of minutes.

To perform the exercise:

  1. Lie on your back on the floor, preferably on a mat (to cushion your tailbone).
  2. Interlace your fingers behind your head. Support your neck, but don’t pull your head forward with the effort.
  3. Using your core muscles, lift your torso and legs off the mat until only your lower back and butt are touching.
  4. Twist to the right, and pull your right knee inward until you can touch (or almost touch) it with your left elbow.
  5. Now, twist to the left, and pull your left knee inward until you can touch (or almost touch) it with your right elbow.
  6. Repeat 15-20 times, then rest.

This is a truly spectacular core exercise with the addition of that twisting motion that will shred your obliques.

Related: How To Do The Bicycle Crunch.

2. Cross-Body Mountain Climber

You’re going to both love and hate this exercise! It takes the challenge of the Mountain Climber and doubles down by adding a twisting motion that sets your oblique muscles burning like few other workouts can. It’s both an amazing strength-building exercise and excellent high-intensity cardio training. A few sets of these in your workout will leave you dripping sweat!

To perform the exercise:

  1. Start in the High Plank position, with your legs extended, feet together, hands flat on the floor beneath your shoulders.
  2. Instead of bringing your left knee up toward your left elbow as you would with a standard Mountain Climber, twist your torso to bring your left knee up toward your right elbow.
  3. Return to Plank position, then repeat by bringing your right knee up toward your left elbow.
  4. Move as slowly as you need to. Focusing on smooth, consistent movement is more important than speed.
  5. Perform 10-20 reps per side, then take a break.

You’ll love the high-intensity cardio workout and feel the burn in your obliques for sure.

3. Heel Taps

This exercise looks simple (and it really is), but the unilateral movement doubles down on its effectiveness by shredding your core along with your abs. It’s basically the same as doing a side crunch, but with far less strain on your neck and in a comfortable position lying on your back. Get ready to bring it!

To perform this exercise:

  1. Lie flat on your back, with your arms flat at your side, your knees bent, and your feet planted on the floor.
  2. Use your core muscles to lift your head and shoulders off the ground. Your lower back should still make contact, but you want your entire upper body elevated.
  3. Without twisting, reach out to touch your right heel with your right hand. You’ll need to swivel your upper body around your core to reach your foot.
  4. Swivel back to the left, touching your left hand to your left heel.
  5. Continue swiveling left and right, tapping your heels with your hands. Repeat for 15-30 repetitions per side.

It’s a super low-impact movement that will do wonders to strengthen your obliques and your abs both.

4. Woodchoppers

8 Best Oblique Exercises to Make Your Core Rock-Solid – Fitness Volt (3)

Woodchopper is a great weighted exercise you can do with a cable machine, a dumbbell, kettlebell, or even just a weight disc or heavy object. It’s a movement that mimics real life (the twisting up-and-down motion of chopping wood, hence its name) and thus will strengthen you for the actual activities you’ll be engaged in on a daily basis.

To perform this exercise:

  1. Stand in the squat position, with your feet spread roughly shoulder width apart. Grip a weight or the handle of the cable machine securely in both hands.
  2. Begin the exercise by rotating to the right and squatting slightly, lowering the weight until it’s between the level of your knee and calf.
  3. Straighten up from your squat, and as you do so, bring the weight upward until it is above your left shoulder (like the backswing of a woodcutter’s axe). Pivot on your right toe slightly so you feel the twist in your core, but your lower body is moving with the motion (similar to how a boxer moves with each punch).
  4. Repeat 10-15 times per side.

This will be both one hell of a core workout and great training for your arms, shoulders, and legs. It’s a full-body workout that will develop a rock-solid, mobile core.

Related: Cable Wood Chop Exercise Guide and Videos.

5. Side Plank

8 Best Oblique Exercises to Make Your Core Rock-Solid – Fitness Volt (4)

If you’re worried about your lower back or feeling extra stiffness in your hips (after a day spent sitting down), you can give your obliques an excellent workout using this static (no movement) exercise. The fact that it is static means there is less risk of lower back strain or sprain, but because your muscles have to engage to hold the position, you get an amazing workout in the same amount of time.

To perform this exercise:

  1. Start in the High Plank position, with your legs extended, feet together, hands flat on the floor beneath your shoulders.
  2. Shift all your weight onto your right hand, and twist your body to raise your left hand high into the air above your head. The majority of the weight should be resting on your right leg, too.
  3. Hold the position for 10-20 seconds.
  4. Return to Plank position, then repeat the transition to the other side—all the weight resting on your left hand and leg, with your right arm extended into the air.
  5. Hold for 10-20 seconds, then rest and repeat.

This is an amazingly simple, totally safe exercise that can be adapted to increase or decrease its difficulty. For example, raising one leg off the ground doubles down on the oblique workout, while placing your upper foot on the ground adds support and makes the exercise a little bit easier for beginner resistance trainees.

However you do it, it’s incredibly effective at targeting your core, primarily your obliques but also your abs, lower back, glutes, and hips.

Related: How To Do Side Plank Hip Abduction.

6. Hanging Oblique Raise

If you’re a more experienced resistance trainee looking to push your core strength to the next level, this is the exercise for you! It’s incredibly challenging on multiple levels: your shoulders and arms get an amazing workout as you hang from the Pull-Up bar, your abs and obliques are engaged in moving your legs smoothly through the entire motion, and your other core muscles work together with your legs to keep your body stable and reduce swinging. The result: an exponentially stronger, more mobile body!

To perform this exercise:

  1. Hang from a Pull-Up bar, using an overhand grip.
  2. Keep your movements tightly controlled as you bring your knees up to your chest, swiveling at the top of the motion to twist toward your left side.
  3. Lower your legs, careful not to swing, then bring them up again with a twist to the right side.
  4. Repeat 10-15 times per side.

You’ll feel the burn in your hands and forearms (hanging for this long takes serious grip strength), as well as in your hips, abs, and obliques. It’s an intermediate/advanced exercise that will deliver amazing core-strengthening results.

7. Medicine Ball Rotational Toss

This is a much more dynamic movement that will help to build explosive power in your entire body—not just your obliques, but in your abs, quads, glutes, arms, and shoulders. It’s a favorite of CrossFitters who want to take their strength, endurance, and stamina to the next level.

To perform this exercise:

  1. Stand 2-4 feet away from a wall (the farther the wall, the more force you’ll need to exert for the throw), in either a normal standing position or a Lunge position (to make this a whole-body workout that targets your legs, too).
  2. Hold a weighted medicine ball (start light, and work your way up to heavy as you adapt to the movement) in both hands.
  3. Twist to the right, bringing the ball back, then toss it forward and into the wall as hard as you can so it rebounds and you can catch it.
  4. Once you catch the ball, twist back to the right, and repeat the throw.
  5. Throw 10 times per side, then switch to the left. (If you’re in the Lunge position, switch legs, too.)

Note: You can also perform this one with a partner, passing it back and forth rather than bouncing it off the wall.

You’ll find that this movement makes your core very resistant to twisting while carrying heavy weight, making you less prone to the typical lower back injuries.

8. Side Bend

Side Bend is a simple exercise that literally anyone can do. If you’re a newbie on your first workout, just using your bodyweight will suffice. If you’re an experienced resistance trainee, adding a bit (or a lot) of weight will increase the difficulty sufficiently to make it a challenge. The beauty is, it’s maximally effective however you do it!

To perform this exercise:

  1. Stand with your feet spread beyond shoulder width apart. You don’t want your hips to feel too tight when you bend, but a wider stance will help to focus on your obliques and increase your flexibility.
  2. Let your hands hang down by your sides. If you’re doing this with weights (dumbbells or kettlebells), hold the weights in a comfortable, neutral grip.
  3. Without moving your lower body, bend to the right as far as you can go.
  4. Engage your oblique muscles to return to the original position.
  5. If you’re doing this with weights, hold just one weight in your right hand. This will force your obliques to work extra hard to lift the added weight, but without any more weight on the left side to counterbalance it.
  6. Repeat 15 bends per side.

Read also:

  • How to Build a V-Taper
  • Washboard Abs Guide
  • How To Do Cable Crunches The Right Way
  • Best Six-Pack Abs Workout You Can Do At Home
  • 5 ‘Old School’ Ab Exercises You Should Be Doing


These eight exercises will make you a stronger, more mobile person with serious core resistance that will reduce your risk of injury or lower back strain. It’s absolutely worth incorporating these oblique-focused exercises into your training sessions to ensure that your body is fortified and able to keep up with the stressors and activities of your daily life. You’ll have a rock-solid core and, as a wonderful bonus, you’ll burn extra abdominal fat and improve your shape!

This article was written by Andrew Peloquin, who is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information to our readers. Andrew is always happy to answer any questions you may have.

If you have any questions or need further clarification about this article, please leave a comment below, and Andrew will get back to you as soon as possible.

Stay on top of the latest fitness news and updates by adding Fitness Volt to your Google News feed: 8 Best Oblique Exercises to Make Your Core Rock-Solid – Fitness Volt (5)You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube for even more content.

Facebook Twitter Reddit Flipboard LinkedIn Pinterest

Categories:Core Training Training Exercises Workouts

Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts

As an expert and enthusiast, I have personal experiences or expertise. However, I can provide information on a wide range of topics, including the concepts used in this article. Let's dive into the concepts related to oblique muscles and core strength!

Oblique Muscles and Core Strength

The oblique muscles are an essential part of your core musculature. They are located on the sides of your torso and play a critical role in enabling twisting, turning, and bending movements. While many people focus on the abs and lower back muscles when it comes to core strength, neglecting the oblique muscles can lead to an imbalanced and weaker core.

Having strong oblique muscles is crucial for maintaining a stable and injury-resistant core. Strengthening these muscles not only enhances your ability to perform twisting movements but also helps tighten and tone the sides of your stomach, reducing the appearance of a "muffin top."

Best Oblique Exercises

This article provides a list of some of the best oblique exercises to incorporate into your workouts. These exercises specifically target the oblique muscles and can help you develop a strong core. Here's a summary of the exercises mentioned:

  1. Bicycle Crunch: This exercise targets the abdominal muscles but also engages the obliques due to the twisting motion involved.

  2. Cross-Body Mountain Climber: Adding a twisting motion to the standard mountain climber exercise intensifies the engagement of the oblique muscles.

  3. Heel Taps: This exercise involves a side-to-side swiveling motion, targeting the obliques and abs.

  4. Woodchoppers: Mimicking the chopping motion, this exercise strengthens the core, including the obliques, and is typically performed with weights or a cable machine.

  5. Side Plank: Holding a side plank position engages the obliques and provides a static workout for these muscles.

  6. Hanging Oblique Raise: This exercise, performed while hanging from a pull-up bar, challenges the obliques and other core muscles.

  7. Medicine Ball Rotational Toss: A dynamic exercise that involves twisting and throwing a medicine ball, engaging multiple muscle groups, including the obliques.

  8. Side Bend: This exercise involves lateral bending of the torso, targeting the obliques.

Incorporating these exercises into your workout routine can help you strengthen your oblique muscles and develop a well-rounded, injury-resistant core.

Remember to consult with a fitness professional or trainer before starting any exercise program to ensure proper form and technique.

8 Best Oblique Exercises to Make Your Core Rock-Solid – Fitness Volt (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Pres. Carey Rath

Last Updated:

Views: 6492

Rating: 4 / 5 (41 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Pres. Carey Rath

Birthday: 1997-03-06

Address: 14955 Ledner Trail, East Rodrickfort, NE 85127-8369

Phone: +18682428114917

Job: National Technology Representative

Hobby: Sand art, Drama, Web surfing, Cycling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Leather crafting, Creative writing

Introduction: My name is Pres. Carey Rath, I am a faithful, funny, vast, joyous, lively, brave, glamorous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.