When doing abs, do you often forget about your obliques? Most people put a lot of focus on the six-pack, but if you want a well-rounded core, don’t forget about the obliques. The obliques run laterally down the sides of your abs, from the ribs to the hips. They are actually two muscles, the internal and external obliques. Whenever you bend or rotate your torso, you’re actively using your obliques. They also help to balance and stabilize us and keep our spines protected.
To give you a better idea about how having strong obliques can help in athletic performance, let’s talk about the role oblique muscles play in a sport like boxing. Specifically, when you throw a hook or uppercut, you’re engaging your obliques. They influence the force of the punch and rotation of the body when throwing a hook/uppercut. They affect how you snap these punches as well. Not to mention that the obliques are also used when a boxer is slipping to the sides, rolling, etc.
So, making your obliques stronger and more explosive sounds like a great idea, right? There are a ton of exercises you can do to develop your obliques. Here are my go-to’s (that don’t require any equipment) when it comes to oblique exercises that are also overall great core exercises you should do.
- Side planks: Make this a staple in your routine alongside regular planks. It’s great for training your balance as well.
- Side planks with dips: Turn up the side planks by doing dips. Focus on maintaining a tight core and controlled movements.
- Cross-body mountain climbers: This variation of mountain climbers with a slight rotation when you move your knee toward the opposite elbow is great for your obliques.
- Russian twists: If you need more of a challenge, do this with a weight or medicine ball. But control and balance is most important. Try not to let your legs move around too much.
- Bicycle crunch: Vary the speed. Fast bicycle crunches can burn, but doing them very slowly (almost like moving in slow motion) puts a different type of emphasis on the abs.
- Penguin crunch/Heel tap
- Side V-ups: Regular V-ups are already pretty tough as it is, but Side V-ups push you to a different level, especially for your obliques.
- Spidermans, or Spiderman Pushups for an extra challenge.
Your obliques help to support your lower back, so if you have a tight lower back or regularly have back pain, I’d recommend adding some basic oblique stretches to your day as well. All of the exercises above can be made to be more challenging if you’re at a more advanced fitness level by adding weights, medicine balls, resistance, or stability balls. Add these into your ab routines/workouts at least a few days a week and strengthen your core. Having good core strength in general isn’t just about exercise and sport, it also makes daily tasks (like picking up something heavy) much easier to do and makes you much less prone to injury.