While abs are certainly made in the kitchen, having a strong core is vital in injury prevention, good posture, and overall strength gains. And part of your core workout should always be to work those obliques, too.
To better understand your core, it’s important to note you have two distinct sets of oblique muscles. And your external obliques are actually the largest of your abdominal muscles and are located on your sides, Caliber Fitness explains. For supreme fitness, you’re going to need exercises that target both external and internal obliques. Perform the following exercises for 45-50 seconds each with 10 seconds of rest in between for a full 10-minute workout.
Fit woman doing Russian twists | iStock.com/Denis Moskvinov
Begin by sitting on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. You can either perform this with hands outstretched in front of you or holding a weight for extra resistance. Keeping your back flat, start reclining a few inches until you feel considerable tension in your abs. Then, slowly twist your torso and arms left and right to work the obliques.
Want an additional challenge? Try hovering your feet just above the ground, too.
You’ll begin this move in side plank position on the left, and midway through the set, switch to your right. Start by placing your left hand on the ground directly under your shoulder. Keep your body in a straight line and stack your right leg on top of your left. Lift your hips so you feel the tension in your abs, and lift your right arm to the sky for balance.
For extra oblique work, dip the hips down to the ground and straight back up.
This crunch variation is known for being an oblique burner. Lie on your back and place your hands gently behind your ears like you’re performing a traditional crunch. Lift your knees in toward your chest and use your upper abs to hover your upper body slightly off the ground as well. To start the bicycle motion, twist your left elbow toward your right knee and extend your left leg out completely from your body. Then, quickly switch to the other side by bringing your right elbow toward your left knee and extending the right leg out. Continue this motion quickly with control.
Mountain climber exercise | Aleksander Kaczmarek/iStock.com
Begin this move in proper high plank position (otherwise known as push-up position). Make sure your hands are directly below your shoulders and your back is flat. Then, quickly bring alternating knees in toward your chest and across your body as much as possible without breaking form. Not only will you work your obliques here, but you’re in for quite a cardio workout.
You’ll need a pull-up bar to perform this waist-trimming move. Hang from a pull-up and engage your core by curling your tailbone and hips slightly under. Then, lift your knees at an angle up to the left before lowering them and lifting them again toward the right. If you begin to swing, this alerts you that you’re not properly engaged. Or, try slowing down the movement.
Here’s another cardio and oblique exercise to incorporate. Start this one with a medium weight in hand (10-20 pounds to start) and stand with soft knees. Bring the weight in both hands down to your left side as you squat. Then, stand while bringing the weight with straightened arms up above your right shoulder. Squat back down and bring the weight to your left side to complete one rep.
After 30 seconds or so, switch sides by starting with the weight by your right side and bringing it up above your left shoulder.
You’ll need a 10-15 pound weight for this one outlined by Shape. Begin by kneeling and sitting to the left side of your knees with your weight held at chest height. By squeezing your glutes and engaging your core, sit back up to a kneeling position. Sit back down to the left to start a new rep. After 30 seconds or so, switch sides.
Woman doing a plank | iStock.com/g-stockstudio
Start in plank position (either in push-up or low plank on your forearms). Ensure your back is flat and core is engaged to start. Then, dip your hips as low as you can to the left and bring them back to center. Repeat on the right. Continue alternating sides for the rest of the set.
This move works both your abs and lower core. Start by lying on your back with hands extended out on the ground. Lift your legs straight up so they form a 90-degree angle with your hips. While keeping legs together at that angle, bring them both down to the left as far as you can without your glutes leaving the ground. Bring them back to center and dip them right. Continue this smooth motion while alternating on both sides.
You’ll feel your glutes and obliques burn with this one. Grab a 10-15 pound dumbbell to hold at chest height while standing. Lunge forward with the left leg and bend the knee to form two 90-degree angles with the legs. As you lunge, twist your upper body to the left while holding the weight. Lift back to standing and lunge with the right while twisting right. Continue alternating legs and twists for the remainder of the set.
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