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6 best exercises to build your obliques

man doing side planks in the field, concept of exercises without equipment for men
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Shaping your obliques not only gives your core impressive muscle tone, but the benefits go way beyond aesthetics. This core muscle group helps improve posture, offers core stability and supports mobility, helping you move successfully through every range and plane of motion, he says.Michael Dittotraining development manager for Pure Barre.

Just think about how often you turn to pick up something you dropped or grab an item off a tall kitchen cabinet or shelf. Your obliques are such a critical aspect of your core musculature that they keep your spine stable and allow you to move smoothly to carry out daily activities. “Freedom of movement is one of the biggest benefits of fitness and strength training in general; it equates to having to think less about how you move in your daily life, because you’ve made time to do so as part of your exercise routine. fitness,” Ditto adds.

When it comes to strengthening your obliques, in particular, there are two main muscles you’ll want to target.

“[There are] two types of oblique muscles, the external and internal obliques, with fibers running in opposite directions,” Ditto explains. “The obliques collectively are responsible for bending you at the waist and twisting you through the midline. Both of these movement patterns involve the trunk going through different planes of motion, allowing for greater mobility through the body in an incredibly functional way.”

Today, Ditto breaks down some of the best exercises for your obliques to build a strong, well-rounded core and improve both posture and spinal health. Read on for Ditto-recommended exercises for your obliques that you can easily add to your current routine. And when you’re done, be sure to check out the 8 Easiest Daily Exercises for a Visibly Toned Six-Pack.

1. Side Arm Plank: 30 seconds on each side

man doing side planks in the field, concept of exercises without equipment for men
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“The tried and tested for a reason, side arm planks statically engage the oblique muscles to employ functional stability through the trunk,” explains Ditto.

To perform a side arm plank, come onto your right forearm on the ground. Stack your feet and hips. Then, push your hips off the ground. Try completing a 30-second hold on each side for a quick yet efficient fat burn. Just make sure you run the same amount of time on each side.

If you’re looking for variation, Ditto suggests, “Add a bottom and hip lift for more engagement in the obliques and to challenge stability. For better balance, consider staggering your feet, facing each other.” For more upper-body engagement, try a straight arm variation with the lower wrist stacked under the shoulder!”

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2. Alternating plank leg raises: 10 to 12 reps on each side

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Next on this list of the best exercises for your obliques is the alternating plank leg raise. “There’s never been a more well-known (and perhaps feared) full-body exercise than a plank,” says Ditto. “To make this foundational exercise a little more oblique-focused, and especially to focus on anti-rotational work, consider adding a leg lift. Anti-rotational exercises require tremendous stability in the oblique muscles. in a super functional way, providing you with exercise that helps you correct postural imbalances as well as protect your spine and improve lower back issues!”

To prepare for the alternating table leg raises, lower yourself onto your forearms and extend both legs behind you. Place your feet slightly out from the hips. Next, lift your right leg without dropping your weight on your left hip. Lower your left leg and repeat the same movement with your right leg. Shoot for 10-12 reps on each side.

“Note that the wider your stride, the ‘easier’ it will be to keep your weight neutral without unloading on the opposite hip,” explains Ditto. “For more of a challenge, bring your feet closer together. Focus on pressing your foot into the floor, flexing your quads and squeezing your glutes for full core engagement!”

3. Mountain climbers: 20 to 25 repetitions

mountain climber exercise part of a five minute cardio workout, woman at home in bright living space
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Think of a climber as a “board in motion,” Ditto says. The mountain climber is a productive exercise to really train your external obliques. This exercise combines muscle strength and endurance to build endurance and fire up your abs.

To prepare for mountain climbers, assume a plank with straight arms as you extend your legs out behind you, hip-width apart. Then, bring your right knee up and across your body to your left shoulder. Make sure your chest stays open and your spine lengthened. Bring that leg back to a plank, then do the same movement with your left knee and keep alternating. Feel free to increase your speed if you can maintain proper form. Try to do 20 to 25 reps.

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4. Seated Abdominal Twists: 10 to 12 reps on each side

muscular man doing russian twists
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“Often referred to as the Russian Twist, seated ab work is a phenomenal way to build stability and strength throughout your torso and hips while focusing on rotational movements to increase range of motion,” says Ditto. “Training twisting movements safely is extremely important for building a resilient spine and core, helping you do ‘daily lifts’ that [sometimes require awkward upper-body rotations]. But maintaining a supple and strong spine with support from the obliques ensures confidence in anything life can throw your way.”

To perform the seated abdominal twist, sit down, bend both knees, and keep your feet flat on the floor. Next, “around the waist” toward the ground, all while making sure your feet stay in contact with the floor. In a slow, controlled motion, rotate your body to the right as your left hip remains on the ground. Then, switch sides. To spice things up a bit, bring your legs into a tabletop position while keeping your hips stable and holding a disc, medicine ball, kettlebell, or dumbbell. Complete 10 to 12 reps on each side.

5. Standing leg abduction with resistance: 10 to 12 reps on each side, 3 sets total

“Your oblique muscles can be engaged in a variety of ways, and that includes working from the ‘bottom up,'” Ditto tells us. “Standing oblique work, like a lateral leg lift in this exercise, is an accessible way to target this muscle group while also offering a challenge to balance and additional time under tension for target muscles.”

To perform standing leg abduction with resistance, place a closed-loop resistance band around your thighs or, to make things more challenging, around your ankles. Stand upright, plant one hand on a wall or stable surface for support, and place your feet hip-width apart. Kick one leg out to the side, making sure your toes stay in line with the opposite foot. Squeeze in your butt and keep your body vertical. Bring that leg back down. Complete 10 to 12 reps on each side, three sets total, for a stellar burn along the sides of your body.

RELATED: The No. 1 Workout No. 1 for standing abs for a visibly toned six-pack

6. Single Dumbbell Deadlift: 8 to 12 reps each side, 3 sets total

Our list of the best exercises for your obliques closes with single dumbbell deadlifts. “Another anti-rotational movement, single dumbbell deadlifts combine the power of the glutes with the entire core musculature, highlighting the posterior chain (back of the body) to increase range of motion in a hinged pattern of the “hip, something you use every day, probably every hour, especially if you’re prone to dropping things on the floor,” Ditto says. “While the deadlift is primarily a glute exercise, note that using a single dumbbell increases the need for your obliques to work to maintain proper alignment throughout the movement, asking your core to fire up and engage in unique ways. “

To start, choose a moderate to heavy dumbbell. Hold it in your right hand and extend your arm along your side. Plant your feet hip-width apart. Gently bend your knees. Then, lean your hips forward and lower the dumbbell down your right leg toward your foot. “Think of it sending your tailbone to the opposite side of the room, or like you’re closing a car door with your glutes,” explains Ditto.

Keep your spine neutral; do not twist your body or twist your hips. Squeeze your glutes to come up, aligning your hips with your shoulders. Complete 8 to 12 reps with the dumbbell in your right hand. Then, switch sides. Perform three sets total.


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