The Best Oblique Exercises for a Smaller Waist

Woman performing oblique mountain climbers in her home

Your midsection. Known by many names — core, abs, the breadbasket, spare tire, love-handle central — whatever you call it, this region also happens to be one of the most stubborn places on the body to lose fat. For many, it can seem like no matter how hard you crunch, how strictly you diet, and how long you stare grimacing in the mirror pinching your sides (please stop doing that), that nothing can be done to trim your tree trunk. 

Oh well, nothing to do but grab your nearest muffin and resign yourself to a life of muffin top-ism, right? Heck no! 

There’s not only something you can do to go from softer belly to a toner tummy, there are a bunch of somethings! We’re talking, of course, about oblique exercises! Yes, with the right oblique workout, you can twist, crunch, tilt, and lift your way to a trimmer midsection! Let’s crunch the numbers, shall we? 

What Are the Obliques? 

The oblique muscle group is divided into internal and external obliques. They connect the ribs, the hips, the abs, and the lower back muscles together. They bring your chest and hips up and down, and help you twist at your waist. This means that the oblique muscles are functionally important muscles, and you can bet that you use them throughout the day. When you open a door, pick something up, swing a golf club, or go for a run, your oblique muscles are all over that business. 

Now let’s take a look at how to tone them into a trim tummy…

The Best Oblique Exercises 
Bicycle Crunches

Woman doing bicycle crunches in a fitness studio

Bicycle crunches are a great multifaceted exercise with tons of benefits — they efficiently strengthen your oblique muscles, through almost continuous resistance; they maintain an elevated heart rate; and they burn tons of calories. And you can gradually increase the resistance by changing your position as you get stronger. 

Beginners: Keep a flat back with your shoulders on the ground, keep your knees bent at a 90° angle, and try to touch your elbows to the opposite knee with each rep. 

Intermediates: Same position, just straighten your leg vertically at the top of each movement. 

Advanced: Start with your shoulders up at a 45° angle, making sure to not curve at your spine. 

Russian Twists

Man performing russian twist with a heavy medicine ball in an industrial gym

Russian twists absolutely pummel your entire core, oblique muscles especially. You can do them without any weights and get a great oblique workout, but throw a medicine ball or dumbbell into the mix, and you’re looking at some real burn. But don’t go too heavy – oblique exercises for a slimmer waist involve doing lower weight, and more reps. Start sitting on the ground, with your back at a slight angle going backwards, bend your legs slightly at the knees to help with stabilization, and get twisting! 

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Side Plank Hip Lifts

Woman performing side plank to work her obliques at home

Side plank hip lifts are a perfect and simple way to do oblique exercises at home. All they require is a yoga mat or other semi-soft surface, and your will to sweat! Like the other oblique exercises we’ve listed so far, there are a couple of variations you can use to keep things interesting.

Beginners: Get into a side plank position, top foot resting on your lower foot, elbow supporting you directly under your shoulder, lift hips up then return to start position. 

Intermediate: Same action as above, just keep your top foot elevated off of the lower foot (as seen in the photo). 

Advanced: Throw a resistance band around your feet, for added lower body strength training. 

Twisting Lunge

Man performing a lunge twist in a crossfit-style gym

Another great oblique exercise is a twisting lunge. You can do these with a medicine ball, yoga ball, or without any equipment. These also work several lower body muscles along with your obliques, as well as giving you a pretty darn good cardio workout in the process. You’ll want to both drop down as low as you comfortably can, without jutting your knee too far forward, and twist as deeply as you can on each rep. 

Oblique Mountain Climber

Woman performing oblique mountain climbers in her home

Oblique mountain climbers are one of the best oblique exercises to do at home. Simple, effective, and pretty darn fun! Get into a normal mountain climber position, hands directly under your shoulders. But instead of running in a straightforward direction, twist your knees towards the opposing side under your body — this not only works your core, but those oblique muscles too. Get a nice run going, and shred those calories!

Well that’s all you need to start shredding your oblique muscles, for a toned midsection and slimmer waist. The key here is to go for the maximum amount of reps that you can, whilst still maintaining proper form. Looking for even more oblique exercises? Look no further than an All Access Pass with Studio SWEAT onDemand! We’ve got a huge library of streaming Ab & Core Workouts that are guaranteed to work your obliques, and a whole lot more. And we also offer tons of other virtual fitness classes, such as indoor cycling, kickboxing, TRX, HIIT, yoga, bootcamp…the list goes on. Take our 7-Day Free Trial for a spin, and get ready for crunch time!