8 of The Best Oblique Exercises to Strengthen Core

Give your exercises the support that they need by building a stronger core with these effective oblique exercises for your strength training days!

8 of The Best Oblique Exercises to Strengthen Core
María Rubio María Rubio
6 min read

When you think of strengthening your core, you probably picture having a toned six-pack that looks great in the mirror, but your core is much more than that! That famous six-pack is only one of the primary core muscles called rectus abdominis, but there are also other major muscles in that area, such as the transversus abdominis and the internal and external obliques.

Your obliques are located at each side of your core, allowing you to bend sideways and rotate your torso, on top of helping support your upper body. This means that not only are they incredibly important when performing a bunch of exercises, but also in your daily life! From simply looking over your shoulder to playing a quick game of mini golf.

So, if you’re looking to build a stronger core that can support you in all of your exercises by correctly engaging your core, start by paying more attention to all of its muscles! Here are some of the best exercises for obliques that you can add to your strength-training routine next time you step into the gym.

Russian twist

Also known as an oblique twist because of the primary muscles that it targets. The Russian twist is a great core exercise that you can perform with your just bodyweight or with a small medicine ball for better results!

How to do it:

  1. Sit on the ground with your knees bent at 90 degrees and your heels close together on the floor while leaning back slightly, forming a V-shape with your torso and thighs.
  2. Grab a small medicine ball with both hands, or clasp them together for a bodyweight exercise. To make the movement more challenging, lift your heels off the floor slightly.
  3. Engage your core and begin the movement by twisting your torso to the right, driving the medicine ball to the side of your ribs as far as you can or until it touches the floor.
  4. Pause for a second while you squeeze your muscles, then go back to the starting position and repeat on the other side, alternating on each rep.

Half Turkish get-up

The standard Turkish get-up is a full-body exercise that truly gives you a tough workout by getting you into a bunch of different positions within the same exercise. To focus on the obliques, stop the movement halfway through to really keep the attention on your core!

How to do it:

  1. Lie face-up on the floor with your right arm pointing up while holding a kettlebell in your hand. Your right knee should be bent with your right foot planted on the floor, while your left arm and leg are extended on the floor.
  2. Begin the movement by pushing yourself up with your left elbow to a sitting position, without lowering your right arm or changing the position of your legs.
  3. Push through your hips until your torso forms a straight line with your left leg and your right knee is bent at around 90 degrees. Your left arm should be extended and pressed on the floor, holding your upper body while keeping the kettlebell up in the air with the right hand.
  4. Hold this position for a moment while your squeeze your muscles, then slowly revert the movement and repeat.
  5. Finish your reps and switch to the opposite side.

Rainbow plank

By now, planks might already be part of your core-strengthening routine, but there are many plank variations that you can try that are directed at specific muscles. The rainbow plank in particular is a killer oblique movement because of the side-to-side motion!

How to do it:

  1. Get into a half-plank position by placing your forearms and feet on the floor, forming a straight line with your whole body, and keep your hands close or clasped together.
  2. Keeping a neutral spine, begin the movement by dipping your hips to the right side as far as you can without taking your feet or arms off the floor.
  3. Pause for a moment to squeeze your muscles, then go back and immediately dip your hips to the left side, alternating sides on each rep.

Woodchoppers

As the name suggests, this exercise mimics a woodchopping motion by having you move from side to side following a diagonal path, making sure you’re fully engaging your obliques throughout the full range of motion.

How to do it:

  1. Attach a handle to a high pulley on a cable machine and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart next to it, with the machine on your right side.
  2. Extend your arms up and to your right to grab the handle with both hands, just above your right shoulder, and keep your knees slightly bent.
  3. Engage your core and begin the movement by pulling the handle down and to the left side, following a diagonal path while you rotate your entire torso to that side.
  4. Without bending your arms, squeeze your muscles in this position, then revert the movement and repeat.
  5. Finish your reps and switch to the opposite side.

Single-leg side plank

Another plank variation, this time unilateral so you can really focus on each side of your body individually. The single-leg side plank is performed with one leg in the air while the other supports your weight, putting more stress on your obliques.

How to do it:

  1. Get into a side half-plank position by placing your right forearm and foot on the floor, with your left foot stacked on top of the right one.
  2. Place your left hand on your hips for support and begin the movement by raising your left leg in the air past the horizontal. Your torso should be forming a straight line with your right leg at all times.
  3. Without letting your hips drop, keep this position for the desired count while you squeeze your abdominal muscles, then finish and switch to the opposite side.

Kettlebell windmill

You may have noticed that a lot of exercises in this list aren’t explosive. Instead, they’re performed slowly while going through the full range of motion to really hit the intended muscles – and the kettlebell windmill isn’t an exception! This movement isn’t only great to build core strength but also to improve flexibility.

How to do it:

  1. Stand upright with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart while holding a kettlebell by the handle with your right hand, then fully extend your right arm upward so that the weight is in the air and above your shoulder.
  2. Engage your core and begin the movement by reaching for your left foot with your left hand while you keep the weight up in the air, bending your torso to the side instead of forward. Your arms should form a straight line at the bottom position.
  3. Hold for a moment while you squeeze your muscles in this position, then go back to the starting position and repeat.
  4. Finish your reps and switch to the opposite side.

Spiderman plank

This is yet another plank variation since they’re particularly effective when it comes to training your core. The Spiderman plank involves a lateral motion with your legs that helps hit your oblique muscles as well as the rest of your core muscles by keeping your body in place during the movement.

How to do it:

  1. Get into a half-plank position by placing your forearms and feet on the floor, forming a straight line with your whole body, and keep your hands close or clasped together.
  2. Engage your core and begin the movement by driving your right knee forward toward your right elbow without taking your left foot off the floor.
  3. Squeeze your muscles in this position, then revert the movement to the half-plank and repeat with the opposite leg, alternating on each rep.

Cross-body mountain climbers

The only difference between this variation and standard mountain climbers is that you’ll be kicking your knees diagonally instead of in a straight line, fully engaging your obliques in the movement and giving them a good and fast-paced workout.

How to do it:

  1. Get into a high plank position by placing your hands and feet hip-width apart on the floor, forming a straight line with your body with your hands directly below your shoulders.
  2. Engage your core and begin the movement by driving your right knee toward your left elbow without taking your left foot off the floor, then quickly jump your right foot back while you drive your left knee to your right elbow at the same time.
  3. Keep alternating without letting your hips drop until you’ve completed the desired reps.

Build a stronger core for a better fitness journey

Your core is located right in the middle of your body, connecting your upper and lower body and serving as the support area for the majority of exercises that you perform at the gym, so don’t forget to give it a proper workout! While bodyweight exercises are great for building strength, you can also include dumbbells, kettlebells, and barbells into your core workouts, as well as cable machines and resistance bands.

Need some help creating an effective core-strengthening workout?

Try the Fit With Iulia app! The app features weekly goal-focused workouts created by Iulia herself, with the appropriate training splits and a variety of different exercises so you can get closer to your fitness goals in no time. Try your first workout for free by downloading the Fit With Iulia app, choosing a goal, and trying the first workout of any goal – no subscription required!