The 5 Best Obliques Exercises: Turbo Charge Your Midsection The Right Way

There has always been a lot of hype with finding the right types of exercises that create a six pack.  Chances are that you always hear about crunches and sit ups but the truth is that in order to develop a great looking midsection one the best things you can do is obliques exercises.

Why Working On Your Obliques Is Important

Although it is common to think that doing crunches are a short cut to getting sexy abs the truth is that neglecting your obliques is not the smartest thing to do.  When have you
seen a person with a sexy or midsection have lousy or absent obliques? Never.  Doing only crunches or sit ups in fact is a very bad idea and will likely lead to injury and back problems down the road.  Rusty Moore goes in to depth on this topic in his free Abs Report and lays out specific workouts to get a great set of abs.

Obliques are important as they frame the abs and entire midsection.  A well developed set of obliques will give off the appearance of a strong midsection and highlights the abs, specifically
a six pack.  When these muscles are strengthened they give the illusion that the core region is firm and chiseled.

However, obliques are not only “show” muscles that serve as bragging rights.  In fact, having a
strong set of oblique muscles helps in protecting the spine and helps the body with stabilization and as a result this helps with performance and functionality.

How You Will Get Great Abs Guaranteed

If you were thinking that only a few obliques exercises and some abs work will give you a solid six pack, then I have to break it to you but it is not that simple.  As much as you are told this lie by infomercials this is not true. Abs and obliques can not be spot reduced.  In other words you
can not perofm some exercises that will burn the fat in the midsection.  However, we will get to the good stuff and you will get a series of exercises that will improve the muscles of the
obliques and the core section.  But first thing is first.  How to chisel the midsection.

To get a great midsection you have to burn the fat in the area.  The key to bring out the muscles
of the core and abs you have to bring your fat percentage to a low level.  I can not stress this enough.  No matter how many exercises you do and how strong your abs and the core gets you will not be able to see your results unless you have lower fat.  Once this is done your core muscle will show.

The only way to burn fat in the best way possible is by doing the following:

  • Eating less– Create a calorie deficit by using more calories than what you eat.
  • High intensity cardio– Cardio done in short bursts using burst training or interval training or HIIT is the best way to burn fat effectively.  This type of cardio is better than doing long cardio sessions.
  • Resistance Training– Achieving a fit and chiseled set of abs is not just about doing core exercises.  Resistance training not only helps build muscle but also makes you a fat burning machine by doing an athletic workout.  Resistance training is not only about lifting weights.  This type of training refers to putting the muscles through a process of muscle building and can be done using either weights, bands, kettlebells or bodyweight exercises.  Many exercises like squats and rows for example, work on the core without doing crunches.

Obliques Exercises To Chisel The Midsection

Let’s get to the nitty gritty and what you came here in the first place.   Here are the 5 best obliques exercises you can do. Combine these with the ab workout to follow and you will see excellent results that will give you strong obliques and a great core and midsection.

(This video by Craig Ballantyne of turbulencetraining.com shows examples of some of the exercises that are listed below)

  • Planks– This exercise is excellent as an overall core development exercise.  The exercise works on the entire midsection, including the obliques muscles.
  • Side Plank– This exercise is a variation of the plank.  The difference is that you hold the position
    on your side holding your wiehgt on one side.
  • Medicine Ball Twist– Twists are a great way to get the core involved.  Hold a medicine ball or any
    object with two hands.  While seated on the floor twist your upper body to each side.  Bring the object (ball, medicine ball, or weight) to one side and have it touch the floor.  Without stopping twist to the other side and have the object touch the floor.
  • Hanging Knee Raise With A Twist– This exercise is also called a Twisting Hanging Knee Raise, Twisting Hanging Leg Raise or Oblique Hanging Knee Raise.  Hang from a pull up bar and bring your knees up to your chest level.  When you reach the top of the movement twist to one side, bring the knees down and repeat by twisting to other side side.  For a more difficult variation do the hanging leg version without bending your knees.
  • Renegade Rows– One of the exercises most people have never heard but really works the deep oblique muscles very well.  Yavor of relativestrengthadvantage.com introduced me to this exercise. Get in a push up position and hold on to light dumbbells.  Bring one dumbbell up in a rowing motion and repeat with the opposite hand.

There are other obliques exercises but these are the best as they really stimulate deep in the obliques muscles and force the entire core to work together creating a solid core region overall.

Creating An Ab Workout With These Exercises

  • Planks– Hold for up to one minute or as long as possible.  Rest 30 seconds and repeat for a total of 5 sets.
  • Twisting Hanging Knee Raises– Do 5 sets of 5 repetitions to begin and increase to 10 repetitions as you improve.
  • Renegade Rows– Do 5 Sets of 3 repetitions. Rest 30 seconds between sets.
  • Side Planks– Hold for one minute or as long as possible on each side. Rest 30 seconds and repeat for 3 sets.
  • Medicine Ball Twist– This is optional and you may leave them out if you feel your abs are reaching exhaustion.  Simply do 2 sets of 10 twists to each side and rest 30 seconds between sets.

This is a sample exercise you can do today.  You can also check out the free Abs Report by Rusty Moore that shows excellent abs workouts for any difficulty level.

Why No Oblique Crunches?

Oblique crunches are popular oblique exercises but they are not advisable.  Any exercise that flexes the spine in a forward motion is not the best option and in fact crunches and oblique crunches do not stimulate the muscles enough.  These exercises are more a recipe to getting a lower back injury in the long run.

The best thing to do is to work on exercises that not only strengthen your abs but also the lower back using a combination of planks, side planks and obliques exercises.

It is important to remember that a proper diet, interval type cardio and strength training are the best ways to reduce your body fat to a lower level.  This is the best way to highlight your abs.  Combined with solid ab/core workouts you will be on your way to developing the abs you have always wanted.

Comments

  1. Sam,

    It’s important to mix in exercises that target the obliques with other traditional core exercises. My favorite is the twisting hanging knee raises because it works the entire midsection including the obliques and lower abs.

    Alykhan – Fitness Breakout

    • Sam Munoz says:

      Alykhan,
      Twisting hanging knee raises are excellent. They can be a bit more for the moderate to experienced person but if anyone puts in the effort and learns how to do hanging leg raises and hanging knee raises the twisting variation becomes easy.

      -Sam

  2. Those are some great oblique exercises. No reason to include crunches when you can do planks, hanging leg raises and renegade rows.

    • Sam Munoz says:

      Hi Dave,
      I took out crunches from my repertoire a long time ago. The funny thing is with exercises like planks and hanging leg raises I have seen better results in muscle than I ever did from crunches.

      -Sam

  3. Not a big fan of Twisting Hanging Knee Raises but the rest of the workout looks great.

    There is lots of research ou there that states how bad the leg raise is on your lower back. The sad thing is that it does produce results so many people are tempted to do it.

    • Sam Munoz says:

      Jason,
      Leg raises work well, the problem I think is when people use it exclusively in their ab workouts. Using only leg raises does open you up to future back issues. Balancing out your ab work with planks and different variations of planks offers a good balance.

      -Sam

  4. Sam,
    I think these are clearly the five best I’ve tried. I’ve been experimenting with “drop sets” for my abs lately and they work great as well. For instance, I might try a 30 second side plank for each side, followed by a 35 second rocking plank, then a 30 second plank, then a 25 second push up plank – with no rest in between exercises and repeat one more time.

    Cheers,

    Tim D

    • Sam Munoz says:

      Tim,
      I haven’t tried drop sets style workouts on my abs but I think I should give it a try once again.
      I do like that combo you outline using different plank variations!

      -Sam

  5. Nice post, great exercises. Not a fan of having myself or other arch their backs for ab training!

    • Sam Munoz says:

      Louis,
      Being on our backs doing crunches and sit ups is not the best way at all. The options I outlined are a good alternative.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      -Sam

  6. Great post. Planks are a great exercise you can even do at work – shut your office door and try to hold on for 2-3 minutes….I’ve seen guys at the gym almost crying after 2 minutes.

    • Sam Munoz says:

      Darren,
      It’s so funny how such a simple exercise looks innocent and perhaps not so effective, until you try it. A lot of guys just smirk when they see someone doing planks, but I also see guys trying them for the first time and they are struggling to hold the position for anything beyond a few seconds.

      -Sam

  7. Hey Sam – great overview of oblique exercises … I’m pretty much on the same page as you with the exception of the twisting motions — I haven’t had much success with those.

    COMPLETELY agree with cutting out the oblique crunches … who wants bigger obliques!?

    • Sam Munoz says:

      Kevin,
      Yeah, obliques crunches…Who needs them?! There are definitely better options out there.
      Twisting motions are pretty good at developing the core from what I have seen.

      -Sam