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4 Obliques Exercises to Really Burn Out Your Core

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Photo: Artem Varnitsin/Getty Images

Focusing on your rectus abdominis muscles (what most people think of when they think "abs") may earn you a sexy six-pack, but there are other equally important parts of your core that are worth your sweat. 

Strengthening your obliques—the muscles that flank your abs and, if you're J.Lo, are a fashion accessory for your best cut-out dresses—are responsible for trimming your waist and strengthening your core for overall stability. (This is especially true during rotational exercises and everyday movements and tasks.)

Just as with that coveted six-pack, there are so many other ways to work your obliques than the oldie-but-goodie bicycle crunch. One study found that a plank variation with feet wide and one arm reaching forward engaged both the front and sides of the core 27 percent better than sit-ups, as we reported in Sneaky Tips for Toning Your Abs During Any Workout. And don't dismiss your go-to lower-body moves on "arms and abs" day. Exercises that may be geared toward your glutes and thighs often require lots of core effort as well—think plyo lunges and single-leg deadlifts. 

Been overlooking your obliques or just want some intense core moves to add to your usual routine? Try these four oblique exercises from celeb trainer David Kirsch, who works with J.Lo, the poster girl for chiseled abs. The exercises include twists and weighted crunches and can be incorporated into any workout. They'll fire up your sides and strengthen your midsection, stat.

Side Plank Oblique Crunch

A. Begin in side plank position, resting on right forearm, with left arm behind head.
B. Bring left elbow in toward belly, then return to starting position. Repeat on the other side.

Exercise Band Torso Rotation

A. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Hold onto an exercise band that's looped around a rack or pole with both hands at chest height.
B. Rotate torso and pull band horizontally across body. Return to starting position. Repeat on the other side.

Weighted Double Crunch

A. Lie on back with a medicine ball between bent knees, core engaged, and arms extended holding a dumbbell.
B. Crunch up, lifting up from shoulders while simultaneously lifting legs. Slowly, with control, lower back down and repeat.

Hanging Knee Raise

A. Hang onto a pull-up bar with arms shoulder-width apart and feet off of the ground.
B. Contracting abs and keeping legs together, bent knees and lift up toward right shoulder. Lower back down, and bend knees up to left shoulder. Continue alternating sides.

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