Exercises for Abdominal External Oblique

Fit woman exercising stomach muscle on ocean beach. Doing crunches.
Side bends, twists and side crunches build taut obliques. (Image: Denis Moskvinov/iStock/Getty Images)

Whenever you bend your torso to one side or rotate your upper body, you're activating your external obliques. These muscles, which extend along the sides of your torso, are superficial muscles that cover the internal obliques.

Strengthening these muscles helps to tone your waist and to give you a stronger core — the region including your abs, obliques and lower back — which help support your spine. Perform exercises such as side bends, side crunches, Russian twists and bicycle crunches.

1. Side Bends

Side bends can be performed myriad ways, whether with dumbbells, weight plates, cables or even a jug of water if you're working out at home without any equipment. The basic technique is the same, however, no matter what you're holding.

2. Side Crunches

Side crunches are very similar to regular crunches, but they're performed with a rotated torso to put the force on the obliques.

3. Russian Twists

Russian twists can be performed with just your own body weight or while holding a dumbbell, weight plate or medicine ball. It's an effective exercise that works the entire core, but targets the obliques.

4. Bicycle Crunches

A simple exercise that requires no equipment, bicycle crunches are an effective exercise for targeting the obliques as well as the abdominal muscles.

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