Dumbbell Side Bend: Muscles Worked, How To Do, Alternatives

If you want to add a side-bending exercise to your oblique workout plan, you should try dumbbell side bends. Dumbbell side bends are isolation exercises that target the oblique muscles on the side of your body.

When done with the right form and technique, it can help a great deal in increasing the strength of the oblique, and the overall strength and stability of the core.

In this article, we will discuss how to perform dumbbell side bends and the benefits associated with them.

What Is Dumbbell Side Bend

Dumbbell side bends are isolation exercises that target muscle groups on the side of your body—specifically the oblique muscles.

The side bend is an effective way to target the internal and external obliques, strengthen lateral spinal flexion, improve spinal mobility, and develop a strong core.

It is an easy core exercise that can be practised at home. 

For an easier variation, you can do bodyweight side bends, and for a more challenging variation, use a kettlebell or a pulley machine for the cable side bends.

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Benefits of Side Bend

There are several benefits to including dumbbell side bends in your workout.  The side bends with dumbbells provide numerous benefits, including.

  • Side bends bring balance to your entire body. They also strengthen the abdominal, hip, and thigh muscles, as well as improving flexibility in the spine.
  • It helps to contribute to a stronger core, reduce the risk of back pain and improve functional movements such as a serving a tennis ball or carrying a heavy object on one side of the body
  • Side bends stretch the abdominal muscles and digestive organs. This aids and regulates digestion, elimination, and metabolism.
  • Training the oblique muscles will help in shaping and toning the waistline. It also helps to get rid of the extra layer of fat around the waistline.
  • The dumbbell side bend is an easy core exercise to practice at home.
Dumbbell Side Bend

Side Bend Muscles Worked

The side bend works the obliques—the two layers of muscles Obliques, (the external and internal obliques) at each side of the waist.

The side bend doesn’t work just the obliques. It also heavily hits the Abs, Serratus anterior and the quadratus lumborum, the deep, hidden muscle on either side of the lower spine that helps form the rear of the abdominal wall.

How To Do Dumbbell Side Bend

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold a dumbbell with a neutral grip in your right hand with your arm hanging at your side.
  3. You can place your free hand behind your head.
  4. Your posture should be tall with your shoulders over your hips.
  5. Maintain a neutral head and neck position throughout the exercise.
  6. Bend sideways at the waist to the left as low as possible, using your oblique muscles to pull your torso down.
  7. Hold for a second and return to the starting position.
  8. Complete the desired number of reps and repeat on the other side.
Dumbbell Side Bend
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Proper Form And Tips

It is crucial to perform exercises with good form as that helps in preventing any injuries as well as in getting the maximum benefits out of your workouts. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do dumbbell side bends with proper form.

  • After an intensive set of side bends, take two or three minutes’ rest before working your other side, so that your performance on the latter doesn’t suffer. Alternate the side you work first from workout to workout.
  • Keep the dumbbell close to your side, with your elbow very slightly bent, and your hips still.
  • To work the oblique muscle, perform these exercises slow and steadily.
  • Avoid using a heavy dumbbell for this exercise. Large, overdeveloped oblique muscles will make your waist appear bulky.
  • The muscles need 36 to 48 hours to do this. So, If you do dumbbell side bends in your routine, do them at least two times per week on nonconsecutive days.

Alternatives to Dumbbell Side Bends

If you’re tired of doing dumbbell side bends or if you simply aren’t enjoying them anymore, you can try the following dumbbell side bends alternative exercises.

1. Russian Twist

The Russian twist is a great alternative to the dumbbell side bend. It strengthens your lower back and core muscles. This exercise helps to tone and tighten your abs and obliques and to trim your waist.

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

Russian Twist oblique

2. Alternate Heel Touches

Alternate heel touches also known as lying oblique reach is an at-home workout exercise that targets the oblique and also involves abs.

It is one of the great oblique exercises that can be done easily by beginner and advanced athletes to activate and grow their midsection.

The exercise mimics other oblique exercises such as the dumbbell side bend and oblique crunch.

Alternate Heel Touches

3. Oblique Crunches

The oblique crunch is one of the best bodyweight exercises that target your core muscles—specifically the obliques on the sides of your abdomen.

It is a core exercise that strengthens your obliques as well as the other muscles of the core, including your transverse abdominus and medial glute.

Oblique Crunches


The side bend with dumbbell is a simple yet effective exercise to, provided you healthy spine.

Perform it with correct form, to strengthen your core muscles and increase their robustness and resistance to injury.

If, however, you have back problems, you want to avoid this exercise. Get treatment to resolve the issues, and then start on the side bend. Meanwhile, the rotary torso machine may be a safe alternative.

Frequently Asked Question

Are dumbbell side bends effective?

Yes, the dumbbell side bend is an effective exercise for improving core strength.

Do dumbbell side bends make you wider?

Dumbbell side bends will not make you bigger and wider, if you train with optimum weight and with good form. Avoid using a heavy dumbbell for this exercise.

Can you do side bends every day?

No, you should not do side bends every day, muscles need 36 to 48 hours to recover. If you are planning to include dumbbell side bends in your routine, then you should do them at least 2-3 times per week, on nonconsecutive days.

Are side bends good for love handles?

Side bends are effective for training the love handles (oblique muscles), which will help improve the shape and tone of the waistline. It also helps to get rid of the extra layer of fat around the waistline.

Cardiovascular exercise, resistance training, and healthy eating are the most effective methods for reducing body fat and reducing the width of your waist.


The dumbbell side bend with plate is an effective exercise to, provided you healthy spine.

Perform it correctly to strengthen your core muscles and make them stronger and more resistant to injury.

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