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Best Oblique Exercises for Sculpted Abs

best oblique exercises

When it comes to achieving a toned and sculpted midsection, focusing on your oblique muscles is essential. These muscles, located on the sides of your abdomen, play a crucial role in core stability, rotation, and lateral flexion. Strengthening your obliques not only enhances your physique but also contributes to better posture, reduced risk of back pain, and improved overall core strength. We’ll explore the best oblique exercises to help you achieve strong and sculpted abs.

Best Oblique Exercises

Russian Twists:

Russian Twists are a comprehensive core exercise that targets not only the obliques, but also strengthens your entire midsection, including the lower back and the deeper core muscles. This exercise is particularly important as it simulates the torso-twisting motion that occurs in many day-to-day activities and sports. For instance, movements such as picking up an item from the floor, swinging a tennis racket, or even turning to talk to someone can all be improved with stronger obliques.

For beginners, the Russian Twist is an excellent introduction to core training. It’s relatively simple to perform and doesn’t require any advanced fitness equipment—you can even use a household item as your weight. Starting with a lighter weight allows you to focus on form and gradually increase intensity as your strength improves.

For experienced fitness enthusiasts, Russian Twists can be an outstanding addition to your core routine. By increasing the weight used, or by performing the exercise on an unstable surface like a Bosu ball, you can make the exercise more challenging and continue to push your core strength to new levels.

The effectiveness of Russian Twists and their ability to be adapted and intensified to suit a range of fitness levels is why they are considered one of the best oblique exercises for sculpted abs and to build a strong core. Regularly incorporating this exercise into your workout can help unlock a strong, functional, and sculpted core.

best oblique exercises

  1. Start by sitting on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat.
  2. Lean back slightly to engage your core and lift your feet off the ground.
  3. Hold a weight or medicine ball with both hands and twist your torso to the right, bringing the weight toward the floor next to your hip. You can also do this exercise with your body weight.
  4. Return to the center and then twist to the left.
  5. Continue this twisting motion for a set number of reps on each side.

Side Plank:

Just like Russian Twists, Side Plank is another cornerstone of the best oblique exercises for sculpted abs and building a strong core. This static move primarily targets the side muscles of the abdomen, enhancing core stability and promoting better balance. The obliques play an instrumental role in our everyday activities such as maintaining good posture, carrying heavy objects, or even simple functions like standing and walking. By improving the strength of these muscles, Side Plank can contribute to overall functional fitness, making day-to-day tasks easier.

For beginners, the Side Plank can be a stepping stone to advanced core exercises. You can start by performing the exercise with your knees on the ground, which reduces the weight your muscles need to support. This modified version allows beginners to concentrate on form and build up their strength and endurance gradually.

For seasoned fitness enthusiasts, the Side Plank offers room for progression. Adding a leg raise or a hip dip to the movement can significantly increase its challenge. Investing in a stability ball can also add an extra layer of difficulty, requiring more control and balance, and in turn, working the obliques harder.

The Side Plank’s versatility, combined with its ability to target a commonly underworked muscle group, is why it is applauded as one of the best oblique exercises for sculpted abs and building a strong core. Consistently incorporating the Side Plank into your fitness routine can yield profound results – a stronger, more stable, and defined core.

Side plank best oblique exercises

  1. Begin by lying on your side with your legs straight.
  2. Support your upper body on your elbow, ensuring it’s directly beneath your shoulder.
  3. Lift your hips off the ground to form a straight line from head to heels.
  4. Hold this position for as long as you can, then switch to the other side.

Bicycle Crunches:

Bicycle Crunches are another fantastic oblique exercise that improves core strength and stability. This dynamic exercise mimics the cycling motion, targeting not just the obliques, but activating the entire core, including the lower back and the rectus abdominis. By intensifying the involvement of the obliques, Bicycle Crunches can lead to a chiseled and defined midsection. The twisting motion of this exercise improves rotational strength, which is beneficial in a host of daily activities — from turning to look over your shoulder to swinging a golf club.

For beginners, Bicycle Crunches provide a simple yet effective way to engage the obliques. One of the benefits is that no equipment is required, and the intensity can be easily adjusted to suit individual fitness levels. Starting at a slower pace allows beginners to focus on their form and slowly increase the speed as their strength and endurance improve.

For more advanced fitness enthusiasts, Bicycle Crunches can be made more challenging by adding weights or increasing the speed of the exercise. Elevating your legs higher will also engage your lower abdominal muscles more, making this a wholesome and demanding core exercise.

The universal accessibility and adaptability of Bicycle Crunches, coupled with their ability to work the entire core, make them one of the best oblique exercises for sculpted abs and to build a strong core. Incorporating this workout into a regular fitness routine can be a game-changer for those seeking a strong, robust, and sculpted core.

bicycle best oblique exercises

  1. Lie on your back with your hands behind your head and your knees bent.
  2. Lift your shoulder blades off the ground.
  3. Bring your right elbow toward your left knee while extending your right leg.
  4. Switch sides by bringing your left elbow toward your right knee while extending your left leg.
  5. Continue in a pedaling motion. 


Woodchoppers are an incredibly effective oblique exercise that mimics the motion of chopping wood, hence the name. This exercise targets the oblique muscles but also engages the entire core and lower body, making it a comprehensive full-body workout. By incorporating a twisting motion it improves rotational strength, which aids in daily activities such as turning, lifting, or even simple actions like getting into a car.

For beginners, Woodchoppers are a straightforward and adaptable exercise. If a cable machine is not readily available, the same movement can be performed using a dumbbell or a resistance band. The key is to start with low resistance to master the technique and then gradually increase the weight as your strength and proficiency improve.

For seasoned fitness enthusiasts, the Woodchoppers offer a multitude of progression possibilities. By increasing the weight or adjusting the cable’s level, the intensity of the exercise can be ramped up. Additionally, performing the exercise from a lunge position can add another layer of challenge, further targeting the lower body and core.

The versatility of the Woodchoppers, their ability to target multiple muscle groups, and the room for progression make them one of the best oblique exercises for sculpted abs and to build a strong core. Regularly incorporating Woodchoppers in your fitness routine can significantly improve core strength, stability, and functional fitness, translating to enhanced performance in all daily activities.

Woodchoppers can be effectively performed using a dumbbell or a cable machine. Here’s how to do them with both methods:

woodchop best oblique exercise

Dumbbell Woodchoppers:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell with both hands extended overhead to your left side, so the weight is above your left shoulder.
  2. In a controlled motion, bring the dumbbell down and across your body towards your right hip, as if you’re “chopping wood.” Pivot on your left foot, allowing your toes to turn right as you twist your torso. Follow the dumbbell with your eyes, turning your head towards your right hip.
  3. Slowly reverse the motion, lifting the dumbbell back up and to the left. Reset your feet and torso to the starting position.
  4. Perform the desired number of repetitions on one side, then switch to the other side.

Cable Machine Woodchoppers:

  1. Adjust the pulley to the highest position on a cable machine and attach a handle or rope.
  2. Stand sideways to the machine, a few feet away, with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grasp the handle or rope with both hands extended above your head towards the pulley side (e.g., if the machine is to your left, your hands should be above your left shoulder).
  3. Pull the handle or rope down and across your body towards your opposite hip, pivoting on the foot that’s closest to the machine. As you twist your torso, your eyes should follow your hands.
  4. Slowly reverse the motion, extending your arms back up and resetting your position.
  5. After completing the desired reps on one side, switch to the other side.

Standing Side Crunches:

Standing Side Crunches are an excellent oblique workout that not only improves core strength but also enhances overall body stability. This exercise is crucial in our daily lives as it aids in maintaining good posture and balance, and it can enhance performance in activities that require lateral movements, such as swinging a tennis racket or simple actions like bending to tie a shoe.

For beginners, this exercise is ideal as it requires no equipment and can be performed anywhere. The intensity of the exercise can be easily adjusted by controlling the range of motion. Moreover, it is a safe and effective way to engage the obliques and start building core strength.

Experienced fitness enthusiasts can intensify the Standing Side Crunches by adding ankle weights or performing the exercise on an unstable surface like a BOSU ball to challenge balance and engage the core muscles further. This adds an extra layer of difficulty, requiring more control and balance and, in turn, working the obliques harder.

The combination of accessibility, adaptability, and effectiveness makes Standing Side Crunches one of the best oblique exercises for sculpted abs and building a strong core. By incorporating this exercise into your regular fitness routine, you will likely observe improved core strength, better stability, and a more defined waistline.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Place your left hand on your hip and your right hand behind your head.
  3. Lift your right knee toward your right elbow while crunching your obliques.
  4. Repeat for a set number of reps on each side.

Medicine Ball Slams:

Medicine Ball Slams are a powerhouse exercise that targets not just the obliques but the entire core while also delivering an explosive total-body workout. This dynamic movement can significantly enhance functional fitness, translating into improved performance in everyday activities. The swing and slam motion can help improve movements like lifting heavy objects from overhead positions and enhance sports performance in activities like tennis, volleyball, or any sport that involves swinging or throwing.

For beginners, Medicine Ball Slams provide the benefit of simplicity. The basic slam movement is easy to learn and perform, and it can be achieved with a lightweight medicine ball, making it accessible to all fitness levels. The key is to maintain proper form, ensuring a good squat position when slamming the ball down. As beginners grow stronger and more confident, they can gradually increase the weight of the medicine ball and the speed of the slams.

Advanced fitness enthusiasts, on the other hand, can continue to challenge themselves with heavier medicine balls and more complex movements. Incorporating a twist or a lunge into the slam, for instance, can increase the intensity of the workout and engage the obliques and other core muscles even further.

Ultimately, the adaptability, full-body engagement, and functional fitness benefits make Medicine Ball Slams one of the best oblique exercises for sculpted abs and to build a strong core. Regularly incorporating this dynamic exercise into your fitness routine can result in improved core strength, better posture, more power and agility in other activities and sports, and even a more toned and defined midsection.

medicine ball slams best oblique exercises

  1. Hold a medicine ball with both hands overhead.
  2. Engage your obliques as you forcefully slam the ball down to the ground.
  3. Catch the ball on the bounce and repeat the movement.

Hanging Leg Raises:

Hanging Leg Raises are an impressive oblique exercise that not only strengthens the core but also challenges the upper body, providing a comprehensive workout. This exercise plays a crucial role in enhancing stability, improving posture, and promoting better balance. These benefits translate into improved performance in a variety of daily activities, such as climbing stairs, lifting heavy objects, or even simple actions like standing from a seated position.

For beginners, Hanging Leg Raises might seem intimidating, but they are accessible with some modifications. You can start by performing knee raises, where instead of lifting the legs straight, you draw your knees into your chest. This modification helps to build strength gradually and prepares the body for more advanced movements over time.

Experienced fitness enthusiasts can amplify the challenge of Hanging Leg Raises by adding a twist at the top of the movement or by wearing ankle weights. These variations not only intensify the workout but also help to sculpt and define the obliques further.

The combination of total body engagement, adaptability, and the ability to target the obliques make Hanging Leg Raises one of the best oblique exercises for sculpted abs and to build a strong core. By incorporating this exercise into your regular fitness routine, you can expect improvements in overall strength, stability, and functional fitness, as well as a more toned and defined midsection.

best oblique exercises

  1. Hang from a pull-up bar with your arms fully extended.
  2. Lift your legs straight up in front of you, engaging your obliques to control the movement.
  3. Lower your legs back down and repeat.

Crunch Time: Build Your Core Strength With The Best Oblique Moves

As you incorporate these best oblique exercises for sculpted abs into your fitness routine, it’s important to maintain proper form to prevent injury and maximize results. Start with a weight or resistance level that suits your current fitness level, gradually increasing the intensity and volume as you become stronger. Remember that consistency is key to achieving a sculpted midsection, so make these exercises a regular part of your workout routine.

In addition to these oblique-focused exercises, don’t forget to include a well-rounded core workout that targets all the muscles in your abdominal region. A balanced approach to core training will not only help you achieve the aesthetics you desire but also improve your overall functional strength and stability.

So, whether you’re aiming for a lean and toned waistline or looking to enhance your core strength for sports and daily activities, these seven best oblique exercises are your ticket to a sculpted midsection. Dedicate yourself to the journey, stay consistent, and watch as your core transforms into a source of power and confidence.

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KiatheCEO, a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Marketing Professional with a focus on empowering women on their home gym fitness journey. With a deep passion for fitness and beauty, KiatheCEO combines her fitness expertise with marketing savvy to provide tailored advice for women looking to achieve their fitness goals in the comfort of their homes. Stay tuned for expert guidance designed to support and inspire women in their home gym fitness journey.

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