Effective Oblique Exercises

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Training the abs is always a weird topic.

As the fitness industry makes progress, is also gets stuck in its archaic ways.

I’m not really sure how this oxymoron happens but it is why I am here.

I always want to provide the best information for the people that take the time to read what I have to say.

When talking about the abs, the obliques are the muscles that run on the sides of body at an angle. They create the V.


These muscles rotate the torso and help a little with side bending. Or at least this is what age old anatomy books will say.

The real function of these muscles is to resist rotation. Keeping the spine stable and not allowing it to move.

When we look at the structure of the spine, it is a column. Columns are not supposed to move. They are stable. If the columns holding up buildings were able to rotate, they would not be used for architecture since all of the building would be rubble.

You tell me if columns are a good, stable platform.

Obviously I am speaking in extremes because the spine is allowed to move. It has free motion because we don’t walk around like we are in a suit of armor.

The issue is that too much motion of the spine can cause injury. These injuries are not easily repaired either.

A lot of people are in a lot of pain due to their back.

Protecting the spine is absolutely essential for long term health.

This is where we need to look at how we train the obliques, or lateral core. Go to any commercial gym and I am sure you will find Russian twists, loaded side bends, and side bends off of the glute ham machine.

These are old school exercises that should have died a long time ago. Mostly because side bending is performed by a muscle in the low back called the Quadratus Lumborum. The QL is not in front of the body and training it is not going to create that V look.

Never mind that you are just destroying the structures of the spine.

It is also very easy to find people doing hundreds and hundreds of Russian twists. Endless Russian twists at a blazing pace. You might feel the burn while doing them but you may also feel your back for the rest of the day.

We have better exercises to choose from for training the obliques. The key lies in anti-rotation movements.

  1. Replace Russian Twists with Wide Stance Anti Rotation Chops

As the name implies, the hips cannot move in this exercise. We rotate through our T spine, which allows a lot of rotation, and resist the way back.

This puts a lot of tension on the obliques and will give that similar burning feeling.

These are very challenging so prepared to be humbled.

  1. Replace Side Bends with Stir the Pot

Stir the pot is an awesome exercise. This trains pretty much all of the core muscles but making circles with the arms really hits that lateral core.

It is not uncommon to see people struggle with this when they do not have great stability.

  1. Replace side bends on the glute ham with side planks

Side planks are an exercise that people like to think that they can hold for days. When done properly most people will crap out after about 8 seconds.


To perform them correctly squeeze the abs, squeeze the glutes, do not rotate the body, and make sure the hips do not get too high.

Substituting these exercises is going to greatly improve core stability.

The only point I left to the end is the whole six pack thing. Everyone has a six pack or V. It is just covered by excess body fat.

Without addressing nutrition there is no point in worrying about core exercises. You must lose fat to get to the abs.

There are no ab exercises that will give you defined muscles in lieu of that.