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Training Tips

8 Oblique Exercises to Improve Your Core Training

External Oblique Exercises

Some of the best forms of an oblique workout incorporate resisting the torso from rotating and stabilizing the spine. Those who are looking to feel stronger, achieve a defined core, and perform better need to train these muscles using uneven loads, stability training, and rotational exercises. 

The Valsalva maneuver is also affected by the external oblique. The external oblique pulls downward on the chest which increases intra-abdominal pressure.

Cable Woodchopper

This is one of many effective rotational exercises for core strength. Start with one side of the body in line with the cable or pulley. If the right side of the body is facing the cable attachment, then grab the handle with the right hand. Place the left hand on top for support. Begin the oblique exercise by rotating the torso moving the load attached to the cable. Maintain full extension in the arms and rotate the body until the handle is in line with the left side of the body. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat. The cable can be adjusted to any height—targeting the core at different angles.

Russian Twist

Start in a seated position on the ground holding a dumbbell at chest level. With the knees bent and feet off the ground, twist to the right or left side. Repeat on both sides for desired reps or time. Maintain a straight spine and incorporate proper breathing. This will help with bracing the core and keeping it engaged the entire time. Twisting movements like these are especially beneficial for athletes. You can also use a medicine ball or kettlebell.

Side Plank

Start on one side of the body with feet together and forearm located under the shoulder. Keep the hips up off the ground and in line with the body. This is the side plank position. Your body should be aligned from head to toe. Hold this position for the desired time and repeat on the other side. This exercise leads to improved posture and better balance. A strong core builds stability and coordination in other human movements. 

Side Plank Crunches

In the side plank position, place the available hand behind the head. If it’s the right arm then bring the right leg to meet the elbow. Return to the starting position. During this exercise be sure to maintain a stable position. To do so, keep the upper body in line with the lower body. The body should remain in a straight line from head to toe. Keep the hips elevated throughout the entire set.

Banded Anti-Rotational Press

For the banded anti-rotational press, begin with a band attached to a fixed object. Just like cable woodchoppers, position one side of the body in line with the band. Stand far enough away from the attachment point to have enough tension or resistance. From here, grab the band with both hands. Position the hand closest to the band on the bottom and overlap it with the other. If the right side of the body is facing the band, then that is the hand that should be on the bottom. Position the band in front of the chest near the clavicle bone. Then press the band straight out and up in front of the body. The arms should achieve full extension. Return to the starting position. Resist all the tension that is trying to pull the body towards the attachment point. 

Medicine Ball Rotational Toss

Position the body sideways a few feet away from the wall. Hold a medicine ball at hip level opposite the side facing the wall. For example, if the left side of the body is facing the wall, hold the med ball at the right hip. Begin by forcefully rotating to the left and throwing the ball at the wall. The right leg should pivot to protect the knee. Catch the ball and return to the starting position. Repeat consecutively. It is important to maintain full extension at the arms and generate force through the hips, trunk, and core. Avoid throwing the ball with the arms.

Hanging Windshield Wipers

Grip and hang from a pull-up bar. Raise the hips and legs upwards so the legs are above the bar. Now rotate from side to side keeping the hips up the entire time. This exercise is advanced and can be modified by performing it lying on the ground. You can advance the exercise by progressing back to the hanging position.

Single-Arm Farmers Carry

One of the best oblique exercises is the farmers carry. Remember that training with uneven loads forces the core to activate to stabilize the body. Start with a heavy dumbbell in one hand and begin walking for the desired distance. Once complete, switch sides moving the dumbbell over to the other hand. Be sure to stand up tall and avoid leaning away from the dumbbell. Keep the core engaged and walk as normal as possible keeping the shoulders back and chest up.

How to Incorporate Oblique Exercises into a Routine

Post-Workout Core Training

Cable Woodchopper: 10 reps x 3

Russian Twist: 20 reps x 3

Plank: 1 min x 3

Core Only Training Day

Windshield Wipers: 8 reps x 3

Cable Woodchopper: 10 reps x 3

Russian Twist: 20 reps x 3

Med Ball Rotational Toss: 6 reps x 2

Side Plank: 30 seconds x 2

Single-Arm Farmers Carry: 1 min x 1