Try This 10-Exercise Oblique Workout for a Strong Core

Sporty young woman doing side planks on lawn
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If you're only working your front abs muscles, you're missing out on strengthening your entire core. If you've been ignoring your so-called "side abs," try this oblique workout for women — or for any gender, TBH.

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An Oblique Workout for Women — and Everyone Else, Too

closeup shot of a muscular woman's defined abs muscles
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While abs-focused workouts are great, a strong core isn't just about toning your transverse abdominis. (See: Why It's Important to Have a Strong Core) You should also be paying attention to your obliques, aka the "side abs." Strong oblique muscles will improve your posture and support your lower back, among other benefits.

But you're going to do more than just some crunches to fire up the obliques and work the full core. To give you some pointers, trainers from across the country shared their best exercises to build a smart oblique workout for women — or literally anyone who wants to strengthen their "side abs" muscles. Get ready to sweat!

How it works: Do all of these obliques exercises once through for a killer oblique workout, or pick your favorites and work them into your regular routine.

You'll need: a 12- to 15-pound kettlebell, plyo box or another elevated surface, set of 5- to 10-pound weights, small exercise ball (optional)

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oblique workout for women: woman demonstrating how to do a breakdancer oblique exercise

If you're looking for a move that works double duty, look no further. "This exercise not only tones those obliques but also gets your heart rate up by adding some cardio," says Jenn Seracuse, a certified Pilates instructor and director of Pilates at FLEX Studios. (FYI, all of these obliques exercises are being demonstrated by Seracuse.)

A. Start in on all fours with knees underneath hips and wrists underneath shoulders. Exhale to engage abs and lift knees to hover off the mat.

B. Kick left leg under the body and across to the right while rotating hips to the right and dropping right heel to the mat. Simultaneously, reach right arm up. Return to all fours and hover.

Do as many reps as possible (AMRAP) for 30 seconds, then switch sides; repeat.

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Side Plank with Hip Dips

woman demonstrating how to do a side plank with hip dips oblique exercise

This obliques exercise is a must for Jeff Schultz, director of training at Pinnacle Sports Inc. "It's a great multi-muscle core strength and stability exercise. It hits the obliques, abs, and back muscles," he notes.

A. Start in a side plank position on right side propped up on right elbow, keeping body in a straight line with feet stacked on top of one another and hips lifted.

B. Lower slowly down until right hip barely touches the ground, then lift back up.

Do 10 to 12 reps, holding last rep for 15 to 30 seconds before dropping. Switch sides; repeat.

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Elevated Mountain Climbers

oblique workout for women: woman demonstrating how to do an elevated mountain climbers oblique exercise

You might not think of mountain climbers as an obliques exercise, but they totally count: "This exercise targets your obliques and abdominals, while also increasing pelvic mobility and cardiovascular strength," says Jimmy Minardi, a certified personal trainer and founder of Minardi Training.

A. Find an incline — such as a bench, stair, or plyo box — and position hands on the incline slightly wider than shoulders-width apart. Pull one leg in toward chest.

B. Alternate leg positions by pushing hips up while immediately extending forward leg back and pulling rear leg forward under chest.

Do 2 sets of 30 reps.

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Windshield Wipers

oblique workout for women: woman demonstrating how to do a windshield wiper oblique exercise

"As a bonus, this oblique exercise definitely works your upper body, too," says Astrid Swan, a NASM-certified celebrity trainer in Los Angeles. (Like her innovative move? Try this weighted abs and obliques workout from Swan next.)

A. Start in a decline plank position off of a bench, stair, or plyo box with hands under shoulders, core engaged.

B. With a straight right leg, lift up and drag right leg over toward the outside of right hand, making sure that leg stays straight for the entire movement. Tap toe down to the floor and lift back up to return to starting position.

Do 3 sets of 10 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

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Oblique Side Sit-Up

oblique workout for women: woman demonstrating how to do a kettlebell sit-up oblique exercise

"I originally saw this move in my Brazilian JiuJitsu training. Soon after seeing its amazing ab benefits, I put it into all of my Kettlebell Kickboxing workouts!" explains Dasha Libin Anderson, a NASM-certified trainer and creator of Kettlebell Kickboxing.

A. Start kneeling, sitting to the side of knees. Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell tightly at chest.

B. Engage core and squeeze glutes to raise up to kneeling position, keeping weight at chest. Then sit back down. Repeat on opposite side.

Do AMRAP for 1 minute. Do 3 sets.

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Supine Obliques

oblique workout for women: woman demonstrating how to do a supine crunch oblique exercise

"I love this oblique exercise because it isolates and strengthens the obliques by keeping them fully activated over the entire range of movement, while also keeping the lower back fully protected," says Julie Jacko, Ph.D., a certified Pilates instructor and professor of public health.

A. Lie faceup, extending arms straight up overhead. Keeping core engaged, lift legs into tabletop position, knees bent at a 90-degree angle.

B. Without changing the angle of knees, tilt knees right and lower feet until toes tap the floor. Lift legs back to tabletop and repeat on the left side. That's one rep.

Do 3 sets of 15 reps.

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Curl with a Twist

oblique workout for women: woman demonstrating how to do a barre curl twist oblique exercise

This is the go-to obliques exercise for Fred DeVito and Elisabeth Halfpapp, the co-founders of CoreBarreFit. "This oblique exercise is a sneak peek from one of our favorites from our book, Barre Fitness: Barre Exercises You Can Do Anywhere for Flexibility, Core Strength, and a Lean Body," they say.

A. Life faceup with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hips-width apart. Holding either a small exercise ball or a light dumbbell, point elbows out to either side and curl up, pressing lower back down into the mat. Hold for 10 seconds, engaging abs.

B. Twist upper body to the left while keeping back of waist on the floor.

Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the opposite side.

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Toe-Heel Reaches with Weights

oblique workout for women: woman demonstrating how to do a toe-heel reaches with weights oblique exercise

"Make this tough oblique workout move even tougher by playing one of your favorite high-energy songs, ideally 130 to 140 BPMs, and moving along with the tempo of the beats," suggests Matty Maggiacomo, a NASM-certified trainer at Peloton.

A. Stand with feet slightly wider than hips-width apart. With a 5- to 10-pound dumbbell in each hand, reach right arm toward right toe, followed by left arm to left toe.

B. Then, reach right arm along the back of leg toward right heel, followed by left arm toward left heel. Avoid bending too much from hips.

Do this move slowly for 30 seconds, faster for 30 seconds, then double-time without weights for 30 seconds.

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Plank Hip Twists

oblique workout for women: woman demonstrating how to do a plank hip twist oblique exercise

"For this full-body move that specifically focuses on the obliques, pretend you're bringing your hips up and over a beach ball for wide, exaggerated twists," says Sarah Koste, a certified personal trainer based in New York City. (FYI, there are a million other plank variations that do double duty as oblique workouts too.)

A. Hold a forearm plank position, legs squeezing together for an extra inner thigh activation.

B. Twists hips up and over midline, alternating left to right.

Do 3 to 4 sets of 10 reps on each side.

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Single-Sided Mountain Climber

oblique workout for women: woman demonstrating how to do a single-side mountain climber oblique exercise

"These mountain climbers fire up one side at a time, so you get an extra burn from the oblique workout," says Joe Buffa, a master trainer at KORE in New York City at the time of original publication.

A. With hands slightly wider than shoulders-width apart, pull right knee over toward left elbow.

B. Switch, pulling left leg in toward left elbow. Right hip should be slightly lower than the left.

Do AMRAP for 45 seconds, then switch sides; repeat. Do 4 sets per side.

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