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5 Highly Effective Oblique Exercises Better than Crunches

Build a massively strong midline and protect your body.

Add these effective oblique exercises into your training if you want to build a stronger, better core and a more powerful and injury resistant midline.

What are the Oblique Muscles?

The oblique muscles refer to a group of muscles in the abdomen that run diagonally. There are two sets of oblique muscles in the human body: the external oblique muscles and the internal oblique muscles.

How to Get Ripped Obliques With These 3 Abs Exercises Twisting Six Pack Abs Exercises Perfect Obliques Workout for a Six PackSource: Cristian Baron / Unsplash

The external oblique muscles run diagonally downward and forward from the lower ribs to the hips and are responsible for rotating the trunk and flexing the spine.

The internal oblique muscles are located just below the external oblique muscles and run diagonally upward and inward from the hips to the rib cage. They also play a role in rotating the trunk and flexing the spine, but in the opposite direction from the external oblique muscles.

Together, the oblique muscles help support the spine, protect the abdominal organs, and are important for proper posture and movement. They are commonly targeted in exercises aimed at strengthening the core and promoting a toned, lean appearance.

Oblique-Exercises-with-Noah Effective Oblique ExercisesSource: Photos Courtesy of CrossFit Inc

What are the Best Oblique Exercises?

There are many effective exercises for targeting the oblique muscles. Here are some of the best ones:

  • Russian Twist: This exercise involves sitting on the floor with your knees bent and your torso leaning back. You then twist your torso from side to side, using your oblique muscles to control the movement.
  • Side Plank: This exercise involves supporting your body on one arm and your feet, with your body in a straight line. By holding this position, you engage your oblique muscles, as well as your core and shoulder muscles.
  • Bicycle Crunches: This exercise involves lying on your back and alternately touching your elbow to the opposite knee. This motion works your oblique muscles, as well as your rectus abdominis (abs) and hip flexors.
  • Side Bends: This exercise involves standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and reaching down to touch your toes on one side, then the other. This motion works your oblique muscles, as well as your back and hip muscles.
  • Captain’s Chair: This exercise involves hanging from a captain’s chair or a similar apparatus and raising your knees to your chest. This motion works your oblique muscles, as well as your rectus abdominis and hip flexors.

It’s important to remember that these exercises should be performed with proper form to avoid injury and get the most benefit. It’s also recommended to include a variety of exercises that target the oblique muscles, as well as other muscle groups, for a well-rounded workout.

1. Effective Oblique Exercises – Russian Twist Exercise

The Russian Twist is a popular exercise that targets the oblique muscles, as well as the rectus abdominis (abs) and other core muscles. Here’s how to perform the Russian Twist:

  • Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your heels touching the ground.
  • Lean back slightly, keeping your back straight and your core engaged.
  • Hold a weight or medicine ball in front of your chest with both hands.
  • Twist your torso to one side, keeping your arms extended and the weight in front of you.
  • Pause for a moment, then twist to the other side.

Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, making sure to twist as far as you can to each side without rounding your back or straining your neck.

It’s important to keep your movements slow and controlled throughout the exercise, using your oblique muscles to control the twisting motion. You can also perform this exercise without a weight for a beginner-friendly variation. As you progress, you can increase the weight or the number of repetitions to challenge your oblique muscles further.

What are the Benefits of the Russian Twist?

The Russian Twist is a great exercise for targeting the oblique muscles and improving overall core strength. Here are some of the benefits of this exercise:

  • Core Strength: The Russian Twist helps strengthen the oblique muscles and other core muscles, such as the rectus abdominis and the transverse abdominis. A strong core helps improve stability and balance, reducing the risk of injury during physical activity.
  • Balance and Stability: By challenging your oblique muscles, the Russian Twist can help improve your balance and stability, especially when performed on an unstable surface like a stability ball.
  • Flexibility: The twisting motion of the Russian Twist helps stretch and mobilize the spine, hips, and waist, improving overall flexibility and reducing the risk of injury.
  • Athletic Performance: Strong oblique muscles can improve your overall athletic performance, particularly in sports that require rotational movements, such as golf, tennis, and hockey.
  • Posture: The Russian Twist can help improve your posture by strengthening the muscles that support your spine and promoting a balanced and aligned posture.

It’s important to note that, as with any exercise, proper form and technique are crucial to getting the most benefit and avoiding injury. Be sure to start with a lighter weight and progress gradually as you build strength and stability.

2. Effective Oblique Exercises – Side Plank

The Side Plank is an effective exercise for targeting the oblique muscles, as well as the core, shoulder, and hip muscles. It’s a great way to improve stability and balance, and to build overall strength. Here’s how to perform the Side Plank:

  1. Lie on your side, propping yourself up on your forearm.
  2. Stack your feet on top of each other and raise your hips so that your body forms a straight line from your head to your feet.
  3. Hold this position for the desired amount of time, keeping your body in a straight line and engaging your oblique muscles to maintain balance.
  4. Repeat on the other side.

The Side Plank can be made more challenging by adding a leg lift, where you raise and lower the top leg while holding the side plank position.

You can also add weights or resistance bands to increase the difficulty. It’s important to keep your body in a straight line and to avoid letting your hips drop or your back arch during the exercise. The Side Plank is a great way to work on your oblique muscles, as well as your overall core stability and balance.

What are the Benefits of the Side Plank?

The Side Plank is a versatile exercise that provides many benefits to the muscles of the torso and the rest of the body. Here are some of the benefits of the Side Plank:

Core Strength: The Side Plank is a great exercise for targeting the oblique muscles, as well as the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and other core muscles. It helps improve overall core strength and stability.

Shoulder Strength: The Side Plank also works the shoulder muscles, particularly the rotator cuff, which helps improve shoulder stability and reduce the risk of injury.

Hip Strength: The Side Plank also works the hip muscles, particularly the glutes and the hip abductors, which helps improve hip stability and reduce the risk of injury.

Balance and Stability: The Side Plank requires you to balance on one arm and one foot, which improves your overall balance and stability.

Posture: The Side Plank helps improve posture by strengthening the muscles that support the spine and promoting a balanced and aligned posture.

Scapular Stability: The Side Plank helps improve scapular stability by strengthening the muscles around the shoulder blade, which can help prevent injury and improve athletic performance.

It’s important to maintain proper form and technique during the Side Plank to avoid injury and get the most benefit. Start with shorter holds and progress to longer holds as you build strength and stability. The Side Plank is a great exercise to add to your workout routine to improve your oblique muscles and overall strength and stability.

3. Effective Oblique Exercises – Bicycle Crunches

Bicycle Crunches are a popular exercise that targets the rectus abdominis, oblique muscles, and other core muscles. They are a great way to work your abs and improve overall core strength. Here’s how to perform Bicycle Crunches:

  1. Lie on your back with your hands behind your head and your knees bent.
  2. Lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the ground.
  3. Bring your right elbow to your left knee, while extending your right leg straight.
  4. Switch sides, bringing your left elbow to your right knee and extending your left leg straight.
  5. Repeat the twisting motion, alternating sides with each repetition.

It’s important to keep your movements controlled and to avoid pulling on your neck or head during the exercise. Keep your core engaged throughout the exercise to target the abs and oblique muscles effectively. Bicycle Crunches are a great addition to any core workout and can be made more challenging by adding weights or resistance bands.

What are the Benefits of Bicycle Crunches?

Bicycle Crunches are a highly effective exercise for targeting the abs and oblique muscles. Here are some of the benefits of this exercise:

Core Strength: Bicycle Crunches are a great exercise for strengthening the rectus abdominis, oblique muscles, and other core muscles. A strong core helps improve stability and balance, reducing the risk of injury during physical activity.

Improved Abdominal Definition: Bicycle Crunches are a great exercise for toning and defining the abs. The twisting motion helps target the rectus abdominis and oblique muscles, creating a more sculpted appearance.

Cardiovascular Endurance: Bicycle Crunches are a high-intensity exercise that can improve cardiovascular endurance. The twisting motion of the exercise increases the heart rate and can provide a cardio workout as well as a strength workout.

Flexibility: The twisting motion of the Bicycle Crunches helps stretch and mobilize the spine, hips, and waist, improving overall flexibility and reducing the risk of injury.

Athletic Performance: Strong abs and oblique muscles can improve your overall athletic performance, particularly in sports that require rotational movements, such as golf, tennis, and hockey.

It’s important to maintain proper form and technique during Bicycle Crunches to avoid injury and get the most benefit. Start with a moderate number of reps and progress gradually as you build strength and endurance. Bicycle Crunches are a great way to improve your abs and oblique muscles, as well as your overall core strength and flexibility.

4. Effective Oblique Exercises – Side Bends

Side Bends are a simple exercise that targets the oblique muscles and can help improve overall core stability. Here’s how to perform Side Bends:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms extended overhead.
  2. Slowly bend to one side, reaching towards your toes with both hands.
  3. Hold for a moment and then slowly return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat on the opposite side.

It’s important to keep your movements controlled and to avoid twisting or turning your torso during the exercise. Keep your core engaged throughout the exercise to target the oblique muscles effectively. Side Bends can be made more challenging by holding weights or adding resistance bands.

Side Bends are a great exercise for improving the oblique muscles, as well as overall core stability and flexibility. They can be incorporated into any workout routine to help tone and sculpt the waist and sides of the body.

What are the Benefits of Side Bends?

Side Bends are a simple exercise that can have a significant impact on the oblique muscles and overall core strength. Here are some of the benefits of Side Bends:

Oblique Strength: Side Bends are a great exercise for targeting and strengthening the oblique muscles. This can help improve overall core stability and reduce the risk of injury during physical activity.

Waist Definition: Side Bends can help tone and sculpt the waist and sides of the body, creating a more defined and attractive appearance.

Flexibility: The side-to-side motion of the Side Bends helps stretch and mobilize the spine, hips, and waist, improving overall flexibility and reducing the risk of injury.

Posture: Side Bends can help improve posture by strengthening the oblique muscles and improving overall core stability.

Balance: The Side Bends exercise can help improve balance and stability, reducing the risk of injury during physical activity.

It’s important to maintain proper form and technique during Side Bends to avoid injury and get the most benefit. Start with a moderate number of reps and progress gradually as you build strength and endurance. Side Bends are a great way to improve the oblique muscles and overall core strength and stability.

5. Effective Oblique Exercises – Captain’s Chair Exercise

The Captain’s Chair is a strength training exercise that targets the rectus abdominis, oblique muscles, and other core muscles. It is typically performed using a specialized piece of gym equipment known as a captain’s chair. Here’s how to perform the Captain’s Chair exercise:

  1. Stand facing the captain’s chair with your back against the back pad and your arms extended to the sides of the chair.
  2. Grasp the handholds and lift your knees towards your chest, keeping your core engaged
  3. Lower your legs back down to the starting position, keeping your core engaged and avoiding any swinging motion.
  4. Repeat the exercise for several repetitions.

The Captain’s Chair exercise is a highly effective exercise for targeting the rectus abdominis and oblique muscles, as well as improving overall core stability and strength. It can be made more challenging by adding weights or resistance bands. The Captain’s Chair is typically found in gym settings, but there are also variations of the exercise that can be performed using other equipment, such as a stability ball or resistance bands.

What are the Benefits of the Captain’s Chair Exercise?

The Captain’s Chair exercise is a great way to target the rectus abdominis, oblique muscles, and other core muscles. Here are some of the benefits of this exercise:

Core Strength: The Captain’s Chair exercise is a highly effective way to strengthen the rectus abdominis, oblique muscles, and other core muscles, improving overall core stability and strength.

Abdominal Definition: By targeting the rectus abdominis and oblique muscles, the Captain’s Chair exercise can help create a more defined and toned appearance in the abdominal area.

Posture: By strengthening the core muscles, the Captain’s Chair exercise can help improve posture, reducing the risk of injury and improving overall body alignment.

Improved Balance and Stability: By engaging the core muscles, the Captain’s Chair exercise can help improve balance and stability, reducing the risk of injury during physical activity.

Reduced Lower Back Pain: The Captain’s Chair exercise can help improve core strength and stability, reducing the risk of lower back pain and injury.

It’s important to maintain proper form and technique during the Captain’s Chair exercise to avoid injury and get the most benefit. Start with a moderate number of repetitions and progress gradually as you build strength and endurance. The Captain’s Chair exercise is a great way to improve the rectus abdominis, oblique muscles, and overall core strength and stability.

Why are Strong Oblique Muscles Important?

Strong oblique muscles are important for a number of reasons, including:

Posture: Strong oblique muscles help support the spine and improve posture, reducing the risk of injury and discomfort in the back and neck.

Core Stability: The oblique muscles play an important role in overall core stability, helping to maintain balance and control during physical activity.

Athletic Performance: Strong oblique muscles can help improve athletic performance by providing support and stability during movements such as twisting, turning, and jumping.

Reduced Risk of Injury: By improving overall core stability, strong oblique muscles can help reduce the risk of injury during physical activity, especially in the lower back, hips, and waist.

Improved Body Appearance: Strong, toned oblique muscles can help create a more defined appearance in the waist and sides of the body.

Incorporating oblique exercises into your workout routine can help improve oblique muscle strength and overall core stability. It’s important to perform oblique exercises with proper form and technique to avoid injury and get the most benefit. Incorporating a variety of oblique exercises into your routine can help ensure full and balanced muscle development.

What Reps and Sets Should You Use to Build Muscle?

The number of reps and sets you should use to build muscle depends on a number of factors, including your fitness level, workout goals, and the specific exercise you’re performing. Here are some general guidelines:

Effective Oblique Exercises – Reps:

For building muscle, it’s generally recommended to perform 8-12 reps per set. This range is considered to be within the “hypertrophy” range, which is the most effective for building muscle mass.

Effective Oblique Exercises – Sets:

It’s recommended to perform 3-5 sets of each exercise, with enough rest between sets to allow your muscles to recover. This will help ensure you can perform each set with good form and full range of motion.

Effective Oblique Exercises – Load:

To build muscle, it’s important to use enough weight to challenge your muscles. You should aim to reach muscle failure (the point at which you can no longer perform another rep with good form) by the end of each set. This means that the last few reps of each set should be challenging, but not so heavy that your form is compromised.

Effective Oblique Exercises – Progressive Overload:

To continue building muscle, it’s important to gradually increase the weight you’re using over time. As you get stronger, you should aim to increase the weight you’re using in small increments to keep challenging your muscles.

It’s also important to remember that building muscle is a gradual process that requires consistency and proper nutrition. Aim to include a variety of exercises in your routine, including compound movements (such as squats, deadlifts, and bench press) and isolation exercises (such as bicep curls and tricep extensions) to target different muscle groups and ensure full and balanced muscle development.

Are Bodyweight Exercises Effective?

Yes, bodyweight exercises can be highly effective for building strength, improving fitness, and achieving a variety of health and wellness goals. Here are some benefits of bodyweight exercises:

Convenient and Accessible: Bodyweight exercises can be performed anywhere, at any time, with no equipment required, making them a convenient and accessible option for people of all fitness levels.

Effective for Building Strength: Bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups, squats, and lunges, can effectively target and build strength in the muscles throughout the body.

Versatile: Bodyweight exercises can be modified and progressed to match an individual’s fitness level and goals, making them a versatile option for people of all fitness levels.

Affordable: Bodyweight exercises are a cost-effective option for those who are looking to improve their fitness and build strength, as they require no equipment or gym membership.

Good for Improving Flexibility and Balance: Bodyweight exercises, such as yoga and Pilates, can help improve flexibility and balance, reducing the risk of injury and promoting overall health and wellness.

While bodyweight exercises can be highly effective, they may not provide as much resistance as exercises performed with weights.

To build muscle and increase strength, it may be necessary to incorporate weights or resistance bands into your workout routine. Bodyweight exercises can be a great way to get started on your fitness journey or to complement a more advanced workout routine, and are an effective and accessible way to build strength and improve overall fitness.

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