12 Best Oblique Exercises To Strengthen Your Side-Abs

These workouts target the side abs and contribute to building a strong core.

Reviewed by Hannah ShineHannah Shine, AFA Certified Personal Trainer
Written by Himanshi MahajanHimanshi Mahajan, Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach  • 

Oblique exercises are great for shedding side fat. The oblique muscles run diagonally along the sides connecting the ribs to the pelvic bone. They are the largest abdominal muscles and consist of separate internal oblique and external oblique muscles (1). The oblique muscles help to keep your spine straight and stable and support the core when you breathe, bend down, stretch up, and twist your body to each side (2).

That’s why it is important to keep your side abs strong and flexible. For that, you must include oblique exercises in your workout routine. This article lists 12 oblique exercises that strengthen and train the sides. Scroll down!

What Is Oblique Exercise?

Oblique exercises for oblique muscles
Image: Shutterstock

Oblique exercises address the oblique muscles or the side abs to train them for all their potential functionalities.

When your obliques are not utilized enough, the body begins to compensate by overusing other body muscles like the muscles in your lower back, leading to pain and discomfort (2). Oblique exercises can strengthen the core and relieve chronic low back pain affecting more than 50% of the American population (3) (4).

AFA Certified Personal Trainer, Hannah Shine, adds, “Oblique exercises are easy to do and don’t require any fancy equipment. You can include them in your strength training session or your regular cardio session. Remember, consistency is key when it comes to achieving a strong and toned core.”

Keep scrolling to check out the most effective oblique exercises you can include in tour exercise routine to strengthen your core muscles.

12 Best Oblique Exercises For A Strong Core

1. Side Planks

Side planks for a strong core
Image: Shutterstock

The side plank exercise works on your obliques, core, shoulders, and hips.

How To Do

  1. Lie on your right side.
  2. Extend your legs, stacked from hip to toe.
  3. Rest the elbow of your right arm on the mat, directly under your shoulder.
  4. Tighten your core.
  5. Raise your hips in a way that your body is in a straight line from head to toe.
  6. Do not drop your hips.
  7. Hold this position for 30 seconds or more.
  8. Repeat on the other side.

protip_icon Did You Know?
Planks are the perfect strength exercise for full-body training. They strengthen your core, improve your core, balance, and posture, and support your spine.

2. Side Plank Dips

Side plank dips for a strong core
Image: Shutterstock

Side plank dips challenge your obliques further. This exercise also utilizes your shoulder, hip, and core muscles.

How To Do

  1. Take the position of a side plank.
  2. Drop your hips and bring them back to the starting position.
  3. Repeat the movement on both sides.

3. Side Plank Leg Raises

Side plank leg raises for a strong core
Image: Shutterstock

The side plank leg raises work on the outer thighs, obliques, and shoulders.

How To Do

  1. Start with the side-plank position.
  2. Straighten your back straight and look forward.
  3. Slowly raise your leg towards the ceiling.
  4. Hold for 10 seconds and bring it down.
  5. Repeat on both sides.

4. Russian Twists

Russian twists for a strong core
Image: Shutterstock

Russian twists work on the complete core focusing more on the obliques.

How To Do

  1. Sit on the floor and stretch your legs.
  2. Lean back at an angle of 45°, bend the legs from the knee, forming a V-shape.
  3. Twist the torso from one side to the other without moving the legs.
  4. You may hold an 8-10 pounds dumbbell or a medicine ball.
  5. Move slowly and breathe.
  6. Do 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps.

5. Side Bends

Side bends for a strong core
Image: Shutterstock

This exercise might seem easy, but the key here is to control the movements to engage the obliques.

How To Do

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold a medium-to-heavy weight dumbbell in your right hand.
  3. Lower the right hand till the knee. Keep the back straight and hold the position for 10 seconds.
  4. Slowly lift your body to the starting position.
  5. Now bend the upper body in the other direction.
  6. Do 1-2 sets of 8-12 reps.

6. V- Ups

V-ups for a strong core
Image: Shutterstock

This oblique workout engages all the core muscles. V-ups are quite intense.

How To Do

  1. Lie on the floor with your face up.
  2. Straighten your legs and arms and align your body in a straight line.
  3. Lift your torso and legs together, forming a V-shape. Try to reach your toes.
  4. Lower your body slowly to the starting position.

7. Single-Arm Overhead Press

Single-arm overhead press for a strong core
Image: Shutterstock

This exercise works out your entire body and shoulders.

How To Do

  1. Grip a dumbbell in one hand.
  2. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  3. Push the dumbbell overhead. Squeeze and hold your core while you do it.
  4. Hold for a few seconds and then get back to the starting position.
  5. Switch and repeat with the other hand.
  6. Do 2-4 sets of 6-12 reps.

8. T- Rotation

T-rotation for a strong core
Image: Shutterstock

This classic oblique exercise improves core stability and flexibility and allows greater spine mobility.

How To Do

  1. Get into the push-up position keeping your arms straight.
  2. Shift your body weight onto your left arm.
  3. Lift your right hand and rotate your torso up and right until you are facing sideways.
  4. Your body should form a T-shape.
  5. Hold for 3 seconds.
  6. Get to the starting position and repeat for the left side.
  7. Keep your hips and body raised along a straight line all through.
  8. Do 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps.

9. Bird Dog

Bird dog exercise for a strong core
Image: Shutterstock

Bird-dog works on your obliques on both sides alternatively and can be scaled up with variation as well.

How To Do

  1. Get into a tabletop position.
  2. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders and your knees right under your hips.
  3. Lift and stretch your left arm and right leg outwards simultaneously.
  4. Pause for 5 to 10 seconds.
  5. Get back to the tabletop position.
  6. Repeat the same on the other side.
  7. Do 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps.

You can challenge yourself further by elevating your knees and hovering a few inches off the floor.

10. Heel Taps

Heel tap exercise for a strong core
Image: Shutterstock

Heel taps are like side crunches on the ground that work on your abdominal muscles.

How To Do

  1. Lie on your back, arms by your side, and the heels near the glutes.
  2. Lift your shoulder, bend sideways, and touch your right heel with your right hand.
  3. Next, try to touch the left heel with your other hand.
  4. Do 2-3 sets of 12-16 reps.

11. Bicycle Crunch

Bicycle crunch for a strong core
Image: Shutterstock

The key in this exercise is to keep your back flush to the ground while you perform the bicycle movement routine.

How To Do

  1. Lie on your back, and bend your knees.
  2. Place your hands on the sides of your head.
  3. Lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the ground.
  4. Lift a leg and bend the knee towards the chest. As you bend, bring the opposite elbow towards the knee.
  5. Release slowly and repeat on the other side.
  6. Do 3-4 sets of 15-20 reps.

12. Cross-Body Mountain Climber

Cross-body mountain climber for a strong core
Image: Shutterstock

This variation of the regular mountain climber focuses on your abs, hips, and chest muscles.

How To Do

  1. Get into the high plank position.
  2. Raise your right knee and push towards your left elbow.
  3. Lower the leg down back.
  4. Raise your left knee and push towards your right elbow.
  5. Start slowly and gradually scale up the speed.
  6. Do 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps.

In addition, oblique exercises like wood choppers, oblique crunches, twisting sit-ups, and torso rotations, specifically engage the oblique muscles.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Targeting your obliques not only strengthens your side abs but also improves your posture and balance. Therefore, doing oblique exercises a few days per week is a great idea for your overall health.

Key Takeaways

  • Oblique exercises target the side abs, strengthen the core, and relieve back pain.
  • Side planks, Russian twists, side bends, V-ups, and heel taps are some of the oblique exercises that make your side abs stronger and more flexible.
  • These exercises relieve strain on the back and reduce love handles.
  • Obliques, if not well handled, put pressure on the lower back and cause pain.

Building core strength is an essential component of a fitness routine. And incorporating Oblique exercises activate your oblique muscles and reduce the overload on the lower back muscles to reduce chronic pain. The exercises listed in this article work on the oblique, core, shoulder, hip, outer thigh, spine, abdominal, and chest muscles. They also help improve your posture and balance besides strengthening the core. Moreover, you can easily do them in the comfort of your home as they hardly require any gym equipment. If you have a knee or any other injuries, it is better to check with a physiotherapist before getting started with these exercises.


While these exercises are great, it is also essential to note the risks involved. If one does not perform them correctly, they may strain their back. Start slowly and gradually increase the repetitions (especially if you are a beginner).

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you lose oblique fat?

Do oblique and abs exercises to lose the oblique fat or love handles.

What exercises make your obliques smaller?

All the exercises mentioned in the article can sculpt and tone your obliques.

Do oblique workouts slim your waist?

Oblique exercises can help build muscle mass, making your waist look broad and wide. Performing them regularly can help reduce excessive fat.

Do squats work obliques?

Yes, squats help target your core muscles, including your obliques.

How long does it take to tone your obliques?

With changes to your diet and lifestyle, along with a moderate cardio and resistance workout routine, you can see visible changes in 4-8 weeks.

Explore the various oblique exercises that can help you tone and strengthen your core! Learn how to target your obliques and get the results you want by clicking on this video.


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  1. ‘Anatomy’ ‘Abdomen and Pelvis’ Anterolateral Abdominal Wall
  2. The Effects of Abdominal Muscle Coactivation on Lumbar Spine Stability
  3. Abdominal Trunk Muscle Weakness and Its Association with Chronic Low Back Pain and Risk of Falling in Older Women
  4. Core Strength Training for Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain
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