Oblique Exercises

abdominal crunches

Check out these oblique exercises to strengthen your abdominal muscles. These will work both the internal obliques and external oblique muscles.

There are 4 of these muscles; 2 internal obliques on each side and 2 external obliques on each side. These are the muscles used to help you twist and turn.

All of these exercises only require an exercise mat. You can in some cases add additional resistance by using a dumbbell weight or a free weight.

Most of the exercises in on this page are isotonic. This means they are movers that will engage the muscles during the workout.

List of Oblique Exercises

To see the instructions for these oblique exercises, you can either scroll through the page or use the links below to jump to the workout you want to try.

Tips for Oblique Exercises

Don't work the same muscle groups 2 days in a row. This can lead to tears in your muscles and possible injury. Give your muscles time to heal from your abdominal workout before attempting the same exercises again.

abdominal muscles

If you are starting to feel pain in your lower back, then stop and do some stretches to relieve the pain. Double check you are doing each move correctly in order to minimize the stress on your back.

Since the back and abdominals are all part of your core muscles, some of these abdominal exercises for your obliques will sometimes engage the back muscle.

You also want to ensure that you are letting the abdominal muscles do the moving for you. Don't use your arms and head to move your body into the crunch position. Keep hands behind your head loose so that you are not tempted to pull up with the head and arms.

Mix these exercises with other stomach workouts and body strengthening workouts to get a complete body toning. If you are just starting out, do fewer repetitions until you have built up the muscle strength.

Remember that a few correctly done ab exercises can be more effective than 100 incorrectly performed exercises.

Oblique Crunches

This one is one of the more common oblique exercises. It is effective and only requires an exercise mat. This is very similar to the traditional crunch but with a slight twist - literally. It is the twisting motion that activates the oblique muscles.

oblique crunch

How to do the Oblique Crunch

  1. Start by lying flat on the floor, knees bent and feet on the floor.
  2. Place your right leg on your left knee with your right leg bent at an angle.
  3. Place your right hand out to the side. Place your left hand loosely behind your head.
  4. Lifting your left arm and brining your left shoulder off the ground, twist slightly and reach towards your right knee.
  5. Slowly return to starting position.
  6. Repeat this move on your left side for 8 to 15 repetitions.
  7. Repeat on the right side for the same number of reps.

You can do this move slightly different by placing both feet on the floor and both hands behind your head. You can then alternate the twist from left to right with each lift.

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Side Crunch

The side oblique crunch is simple and yet has a twist just like the oblique crunch. However, instead of twisting as you lift up, you start with your body slightly twisted while lying on the mat. This is what engages the oblique muscles when you crunch upward.


How to do the Side Crunch

  1. Lie on the floor with knees bent and back pressed to the floor.
  2. Place your hands loosely behind your head.
  3. Drop both knees to your right to work the left side of the oblique muscles. This will twist your body slightly for this exercise.
  4. Now crunch up, keeping your head straight, until your shoulders are off the ground.
  5. Return to starting position while you inhale.
  6. Do this for 10 - 20 repetitions and then repeat for the other side.

Try not to twist as you crunch up as your body is already twisted to give you that oblique workout. For this exercise, exhale as you reach up and inhale as you return to the starting position.

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Another oblique exercise is known as the foot 2 foot crunch. This is a side to side crunch where it will engage primarily the oblique muscles. Any exercise in which you are twisting or bending at the waist will work the side abdominal muscles.


How to do the Foot 2 Foot Crunch

  1. Lie on the floor with knees bent and back pressed to the floor.
  2. Place your hands by your side with your palms facing towards your body.
  3. Lift your upper body until your shoulders are off the ground.
  4. Now reach your right hand to your right heel, twisting the upper body slightly.
  5. Return to starting position and repeat on the with the left hand to the left heel.
  6. Continue alternating sides. Do this for 8 - 15 repititions.

A rep for this oblique exercise would be two crunches, one on the right side and one on the left side. Minimize movement of your lower body and hips, keeping back flat to the floor.

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Side Plank Crunch

This oblique plank combined with a crunch are great oblique exercises as you get an isometric (non-mover) combined with an isotonic exercise (the movers). The plank movement is considered isometric exercise. These are static, or non moving, exercises. The crunch is the moving portion of the workout.


How to do the Side Plank Crunch

  1. For the oblique crunch, lay down on your left side placing your elbow right underneath your shoulder.
  2. Put your feet and hips stacked on top of each other to where only one foot is actually touching the mat.
  3. Place your other hand behind your head.
  4. Lift up until your whole body is in a straight line.
  5. To add a crunch, bring your right elbow down to your left hand.
  6. Return to starting position. Repeat this 10 times
  7. For the oblique plank, repeat steps 4 and instead of returning to the starting position, hold in place for 10 seconds.
  8. Repeat this for 2 to 3 reps (10 crunches and 1 plank for each rep).
  9. Switch positions to lay on the other side and repeat these steps for this side.

As you hold in position for the plank pose, be sure to keep on breathing.

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Standing Side Crunch

The standing oblique crunch is great for when you don't have a mat handy or there isn't enough room at the gym. However, these oblique exercises can be done lying on the floor as well. The instructions are for the standing version.


How to do the Standing Side Crunch

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Place your hands behind your head with your elbows flared out to the sides.
  3. At the same time, lift your left knee up to the side and bring down your left elbow crunching to the side.
  4. Return to starting position.
  5. Repeat this move on the left side for several repititions.
  6. Switch knees and elbows to the right side and repeat this move for several more reps.

Make sure you are crunching and twisting at the side of the abdominal and not crunching straight down for this exercise. As with any exercise, make sure to breath to properly oxygenate your body.

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Straight Leg Pendulum

The straight leg pendulum is the last in the oblique exercises instructions. It is called this because of the way you move during this ab workout. Your legs will swing like a pendulum giving you that twist at the waist. This is also sometimes called the tic toc, the windmill or the straight leg oblique exercise.


How to do the Straight Leg Pendulum

  1. Lie on your back making sure the back is flat to the floor during this exercise.
  2. Place your arms straight out to the sides as if you are getting ready to make a snow angel.
  3. Place your hands palm down on the floor. This will help give you stability as you do this exercise.
  4. Lift your legs straight up in the air towards the ceiling until they are at a 90 degree angle with the floor.
  5. Using a slow and controlled movement, drop your legs to one side as far as you can go.
  6. Still using a slow and controlled movement, bring your legs back up and then slowly drop them to the other side as far as they can go.
  7. Repeat this for several repetitions ensuring your shoulders and upper back stay flat to the mat.

This exercise is more advanced than other oblique exercises and does require control on your part. Don't swing the legs to quickly as momentum, and not your ab muscles, will be doing the work.

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Featured Articles

More Exercise Instructions

Abdominal Exercises - Crunches
If you want to work your rectus abdominus, also known as the six pack, then check out this video series. With six different crunches, including the top 3 ab exercises according to one study, you will feel the muscles working when you are done.

Transverse Abdominal Exercises
This series will really target the deep transverse abdominal muscle. With moves like the plank pose and scissor kicks, you will be strengthening and tightening this stomach muscle.

Toning Exercises
This exercise series also has six different exercises that will work your upper and lower body. With moves like the butt lift, squats and tricep curls, you can get an overall body toning.

Be sure to visit the Exercise Instructions page on this site to see a full list of all exercises.

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Isometric Exercises
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Lower Back Strengthening Exercises
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