Best External Oblique Exercises to Get Shredded And Strong Sides

Are you looking for the most effective oblique exercises to tone and strengthen your side abs muscles? Look no further. Here are the best external oblique exercises that will help you achieve a rock-solid core.

The obliques are a group of muscles that run along the sides of your torso. They help you to twist and bend your torso, and they also play a role in stabilizing your core.

Strong external obliques help you improve your athletic performance, reduce your risk of getting hurt, and get a more defined midsection.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the following:

Anatomy of the Obliques

Your waist is made up of two muscle groups: the rectus abdominis (“six-pack” muscles) in the front and the obliques on each side.

Only focusing on your six-pack muscles is a very narrow scope of practice. For a balanced core, you’ll need to train your oblique muscles, too.

The oblique muscles consist of two distinct muscle groups, the external obliques and the internal obliques. They are responsible for flexing, rotating, and laterally bending the trunk.

Abs and Obliques Muscles

1. External Oblique

The external oblique is the outer visible layer that passes run diagonally on each side of the rectus abdominis. They can be found between the lower rib region and the pelvis. These muscles help in side-to-side bending, flexion of the spinal column, torso rotation, and compression of the abdomen.

2. Internal Oblique

The internal oblique muscles lie under the external obliques and run into the lower back or erector spinae.

The fibers of the two muscles pass at right angles to one another; therefore, they are often referred to as opposite-side rotators.

3. Rectus Abdominis

Located at the front of your abdomen, these muscles assist the external obliques in trunk flexion.

4. Transversus Abdominis

The deepest part of the abdominal is the transversus abdominis, which lies horizontally across the abdominal wall. It also helps with the stabilization of the spine.

5. Erector Spinae

Erector spinae muscles run along your spine and work in coordination with your external obliques to maintain posture and stability.

Benefits of Strengthening the External Obliques

  • Strengthening the external obliques can improve posture and spinal alignment.
  • The external obliques help to support your lower back. When they are strong, they help to alleviate back pain. According to a study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, core strength training that incorporates oblique exercises can help alleviate chronic back pain.
  • Strong obliques make it easier to move in multi-directional patterns, which is helpful in both daily life and sports.
  • Strong external obliques make everyday activities like lifting, twisting, and walking easier.
  • Athletes often use their external obliques to do movements that require turning, twisting, and lateral stability.
  • Strong external obliques can help to give you a more defined midsection.
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Best External Oblique Exercises For Beginner

If you’re a beginner looking to strengthen your external oblique muscles, there are many exercises you can do without any equipment. These exercises can help to improve core stability, posture, and overall strength.

Some of the best external oblique exercises for beginners include:

1. Side Plank

The side plank (oblique plank) is one of the best core exercises for strengthening the oblique muscles, which don’t get worked as much during abs exercises such as crunches.

The side plank forces the external obliques to activate as they dynamically stabilize the spine against gravity. This exercise improves core strength essential for rotation, bending, and reducing back pain. It also helps sculpt a lean, toned waistline.

If you’re new to planking, you should master the basic forearm plank before moving on to the side plank variation.

There are many advance variations of it, such as: side plank rotation and Side plank hip dip.

Forearm Side Plank

How To Do a Side Plank

  1. Lie on your side and prop your body up on one forearm and the side of your foot.
  2. Keep your body in a straight line from head to toe.
  3. Hold this challenging position for 30-60 seconds per side.
  4. Lift your hips off the ground and press into your forearm or hand to form a straight line from your head to your feet.
  5. Repeat on the other side.


  • Keep your body in a straight line from head to toe.
  • Avoid sagging or rounding your lower back.
  • Keep your neck long and aligned with your spine.

2. Alternate Heel Touches

Alternate heel touches, also referred to as lying oblique reach, is an exercise that can be performed at home and targets the oblique muscles, as well as the abs.

Reaching across the body to touch the heels also helps improve flexibility and increases the range of motion in the hips.

It is one of the great oblique exercises that beginners and intermediate athletes can do easily to grow their midsection.

Alternate Heel Touches

How To Do Alternate Heel Touches

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.
  2. Place your arms by your sides, palms facing down.
  3. Lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the ground.
  4. As you exhale, reach your right hand toward your right heel.
  5. Return to the starting position and repeat on the left side, reaching your left hand toward your left heel.
  6. Continue alternating sides, performing the movement in a controlled and rhythmic manner.


  • Be sure not to strain your neck when doing any ab crunch work.
  • Don’t jerk from side to side, focus on oblique muscles while doing touching exercises

3. Russian Twist

The Russian twist engages and strengthens your core muscles as well as your lower back. This exercise helps to tone and tighten your abs and obliques and to trim your waist.

It also helps to improve your balance, stability, and posture.

A more advanced way of performing the Russian twist is to raise your feet a little off the floor and a weighted Russian twist.

Russian Twist oblique

How To Do It

  1. Lie down with your knee bent at the knees and feet flat on the ground.
  2. Elevate your upper body so that it creates a V shape with your thighs.
  3. Begin to twist side to side while maintaining balance on your buttocks, keeping constant tension on the abs.
  4. Repeat this movement until the set is complete.


  • Keep your back straight at all times and twist your torso only from the ribs up.
  • Don’t move your head side to side.

4. Bicycle Crunch

Bicycle crunches are a popular abdominal exercise that targets the rectus abdominis, obliques, and hip flexors.

One distinct advantage of performing bicycle crunches is that they target both the internal and external obliques very effectively.

In a study conducted by ACE, a comparison was conducted between the efficacy of the bicycle crunch and 12 other common abs exercises, and it was determined that the bicycle crunch proved to be the most effective.

Bicycle Crunch

How To Do It

  1. Lie flat on your back on a mat with your hands behind your head and your elbows out.
  2. Lift both legs in the air, bending your knees to form a 90-degree angle.
  3. Perform a crunch by lifting your head, neck, and shoulders off the ground and simultaneously rotating your torso to bring your right elbow towards your left knee.
  4. Lower your upper body back down and straighten your right leg at the same time. Immediately, perform another crunch, this time bringing your left elbow towards your right knee.
  5. Keep alternating sides in a pedaling motion, as if you are riding a bicycle.


  • Focus on bringing your elbow to the opposite knee, not your elbow to your hand.
  • Avoid pulling on your neck with your hands, and instead use them for support only.

5. Side Crunch

If you’re looking for a new, challenging exercise to add to your oblique workout routine, you should try side crunches. It is a core exercise that strengthens the obliques, but also the other muscles in your core.

The oblique crunches are perhaps the most user-friendly workout that you could use at home or in the gym to train your oblique and core muscles.

There are several variations of the side crunches exercise that not just add variety to your workout, but also give you better results.

Oblique Crunches

How To Bent Knee Side Crunch

  1. Lie on the floor on your right side with your hips and knees bent.
  2. Put your left hand behind your head and your right hand across your body on your obliques.
  3. Placing your hand on your obliques can help you feel the muscles contract and improve the mind-muscle connection.
  4. Contract your obliques to lift your shoulder off the floor.
  5. Hold this position for a second, contracting your obliques as hard as possible.
  6. Then return to the start position.
  7. Do all of the reps on the left side, and then do the same number of reps on the right side.


  • Don’t use your arms to lift your upper body.
  • xhale as you crunch, and inhale as you return to the starting position.

6. Oblique V Ups

Oblique V-ups are an intermediate level abdominal exercise that targets the oblique muscles, including external obliques.

V-ups will not only build strong obliques, but will also improve your balance and core stability. The exercise also works other core muscles, which makes it a good core workout.

  • You can also make the exercise easier by placing your feet on the ground or bending your knees.
  • You can make the oblique V-up harder by lifting your top leg off the ground or holding a weight in your hand.
Oblique V-up

How To Do It

  1. Lie on your side with your legs stacked and fully extended. Your body should form a straight line.
  2. Rest one arm on the floor for stability and place the other behind your head.
  3. Keep your legs together and lift them towards the ceiling, as you simultaneously lift your upper body towards them. Your body should form a ‘V’ at the peak of the movement.
  4. Hold the ‘V’ position for a few seconds.
  5. Slowly Lower your legs and upper body back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat 10-15 reps and switch the side.


  • Exhale as you lift your upper body and legs, and inhale as you lower them.
  • Keep your neck relaxed and avoid straining it during the movement.

7. Spiderman Push Up

Spider-Man Push-Ups are a challenging variation of the traditional push-up exercise. This variation not only targets the chest, shoulders, and triceps, but also incorporates core and oblique activation.

The exercise is named after the superhero Spider-Man, as it resembles the way he moves in the comic books and movies.

In a Spiderman push-up, you bring one knee to elbow, creates a dynamic movement that challenges the core and improves stability.

Spiderman Push-Up

How To Do It

  1. Start in a traditional push-up position with your hands placed slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your heels.
  3. Lower your body towards the ground as you bring one knee towards the same-side elbow.
  4. Push back up to the starting position, extending the leg back out and returning to the traditional push-up position.
  5. Repeat the exercise on the other side, alternating legs with each rep.


  • Keep your core tight and your body in a straight line.
  • It is a challenging exercise, so don’t rush through the movement.

Advance Oblique Exercises

To take your oblique workout to the next level, add advanced exercises. While beginner and intermediate exercises are great for building a foundation, advanced exercises can help you achieve a stronger, more defined midsection.

Here are some advanced oblique exercises that will help you take your core workout to the next level.

8. Windshield Wipers

Floor windshield wipers are an effective and challenging exercise that targets the oblique muscles, along with the rectus abdominis and hip flexors.

The controlled rotational movements of the legs mimic the motion of the windshield wipers. This exercise also works the deep core muscles, including the transverse abdominis, which helps stabilize the spine.

Windshield Wipers

How To Do Floor Windshield Wipers

  1. Lie flat on your back with your arms extended out to the sides, palms facing down, and legs straight up in the air, perpendicular to the floor.
  2. Engage your core by drawing your navel toward your spine. Slowly lowering your legs to one side.
  3. Use your oblique muscles to lift your legs back up to the starting position, and then lower them to the opposite side.
  4. Continue to alternate side to side with controlled and smooth motions.

Tips For Proper Form

  • Start with a smaller range of motion and gradually increase.
  • If you find it challenging to keep your legs straight, you can slightly bend your knees.

9. Dumbbell Wood Chop

The Dumbbell wood chop is also known as the dumbbell up-down twist, you must add these oblique exercises to your dumbbell abs workout arsenal.

This is great for strengthening the twisting movement pattern of your torso, as well as improving your torso’s ability to resist twisting forces.

The dumbbell woodchop is a compound pulling motion and a functional exercise. While it primarily targets the abdominals and obliques, it also employs the shouldersback, and glutes.

For Other Variation, Try Cable Wood Chop

How To Do Dumbbell Woodchoppers

  1. Hold the dumbbell with both hands, with either your fingers interlaced or with one hand over the other.
  2. Keep your arms straight and rotate the dumbbell in a diagonal downward motion until your torso turns to the other side and your hands are at knee height.
  3. Hold for a count of two. Then slowly reverse the movement to return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions. Repeat the exercise on your opposite side.
  5. Aim for 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps a side.


  • Don’t lock the knees and hips. Allow the hips and knees to rotate slightly.
  • Keep your arms straight, shoulders locked in place.
  • Control the weight the whole time while doing this.
Know More: 12 Best Dumbbell Oblique Exercises For A Stronger Core

10. Pallof Press

The Pallof Press is a full-body exercise that can increase overall stability and activate many large muscle groups in the body. It is an anti-rotation hold exercise that will work wonders in helping you develop a stable core.

The Pallof press is a valuable movement prep and core strengthening exercise, and It helps to establish proper spinal alignment under load and increase core stability.

Pallof Press

How To Do Pallof Press

  1. Attach a handle to a chest-high cable pulley. Stand on to the side cable machine with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Grasp the handle with the hand nearest the pulley, pull the handle to your chest, and place your free hand over the hand holding the handle.
  3. Engage your core and press the handle out with both hands so your arms are extended in front of your chest.
  4. Hold this position, resisting the pull of the cable and not letting your torso rotate towards the machine, for five to ten seconds then bring the handle back in to your chest.
  5. Repeat the exercise on your opposite side.


  • Maintain a forward chest and straight back throughout the entire exercise.
  • Use a challenging weight but only to where you can maintain a straight body position. 
Know More: Most Effective Abs & Oblique Cable Exercises & Workout

Signs of Weak External Obliques

Weak external oblique muscles can lead to various symptoms and issues, including:

  • Decreased ability of trunk flexion.
  • Underdeveloped obliques may cause difficulty or discomfort in actions that involve twisting or turning your torso.
  • Weak obliques can lead to slouching, rounding of the shoulders, and excessive curvature of the spine.
  • The obliques provide essential core support. Weakness can strain the back and cause pain.
  • Weak external obliques lead to a loss of abdominal tone on the sides and a wider waist.
  • The external obliques are crucial for stabilized motion. Deficits in this area may increase the risk of injury.

How To Create Oblique Workout Routine

Creating an oblique workout routine involves selecting exercises that target the oblique muscles and incorporating them into a structured plan.

  1. Identify exercises that target the oblique muscles: There are many exercises that target the oblique muscles, such as side planks, oblique V-ups, bicycle crunches, Russian twists, and oblique crunches. Choose exercises that you enjoy and that challenge you.
  2. Determine the number of sets and reps: The number of sets and reps you perform will depend on your fitness level and goals. For beginners, start with 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps per exercise. For more advanced, aim for 3-4 sets of 15-20 reps per exercise
  3. Incorporate other core exercises: It’s important to incorporate other core exercises such as planks, mountain climbers, and leg raises to work all areas of your core.
  4. Rest and recovery: Allow your muscles time to rest and recover between workouts. Rest for 30-60 seconds between sets and 2-3 days between oblique workouts.
  5. Modify and progress: Modify exercises to make them easier or harder, depending on your fitness level. As you get stronger, progress to more challenging exercises to continue seeing results.

Beginner External Oblique Workout Plan

ExerciseSetsRepsRest Between Sets
Russian Twists31545-60 sec
Side Plank 21245-60 sec
Alternate Heel Touches21045-60 sec

Advanced External Oblique Workout Plan

ExerciseSetsRepsRest Between Sets
Side Plank with Rotation41230-45 sec
Windshield Wipers31030-45 sec
Oblique V-ups31230-45 sec
Spiderman Push-Ups31030-45 sec


Where are the external obliques located

The external obliques are located on the lateral and anterior parts of the abdomen. The external oblique muscles run from the lower half of the ribs around and down to the pelvis.

Best Weighted External Oblique Exercises

Here are some best exercises for the external oblique that you can do with weights.

  • Dumbbell Side Bends
  • Weighted Russian Twists
  • Dumbbell Side Plank Row
  • Standing Cable Chop
  • Dumbbell Oblique Twist
  • Overhead Dumbbell Side Bend
  • Cable Woodchopper
  • Medicine Ball Torso Twist
  • Weighted Bicycle Crunch
  • Farmer’s Walk
  • Landmine twist
  • Oblique V-Up With Medicine Ball

Can I target just my external obliques to reduce side fat?

No, spot reduction is a myth. A balanced approach to exercise and a healthy diet are necessary to reduce body fat overall.

Can external oblique training help me lose belly fat?

When combined with cardio and a nutritious diet, oblique exercises will help you burn calories and achieve your midsection-fat loss goals.


Strengthening your external obliques is crucial for both looks and function. From better posture to enhanced athletic performance, the benefits are vast.

Proper training of the external obliques doesn’t just whittle your waistline. It also improves posture and lower back health, corrects muscle imbalances, and boosts rotational power. All of these things help you perform better in sports and everyday life.

Over time, you will notice improvements in core strength, mobility, and abdominal definition with a focused external oblique workout plan.


  • Choi WJ, Park BS, Yoo BK, Jeon JK, Son KH. The effects of Core program exercise on balance in patients with chronic low Back pain. J Korean Phys Ther. 2018;25(1):1–0.
  • Yuki Nakai, Conceptualization, Data curation,..: A self-oblique exercise that activates the coordinated activity of abdominal and hip muscles–A pilot study. Published online 2021 Aug 12. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0255035.
  • Oliva-Lozano JM, Muyor JM. Core Muscle Activity During Physical Fitness Exercises: A Systematic Review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020;17: 1–42. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17124306

20 Best Oblique Exercises To Get Ripped Oblique

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