The 16 Best Oblique Exercises & Workouts For Men
— Updated on 21 September 2023

The 16 Best Oblique Exercises & Workouts For Men

— Updated on 21 September 2023
Medically Reviewed by: Jono Castano  | 
Nick Kenyon
WORDS BY
Nick Kenyon

Working out takes a lot of focus and dedication, but not only during the actual workout. You also need to think about your workouts before you do them, which is why today, we want to look at some of the best oblique exercises for men.

Most people want a six-pack, so they spend a lot of time working on their abdominals. Unfortunately, you won’t get a lot out of these workouts if you’re not also working on your obliques. Obliques are equally essential to your stability (1) and how the lower half of your torso looks as your abdominals.

By building strong internal and external oblique muscles, you will help yourself become more conventionally attractive. Additionally, since you do not need a lot of equipment for them like the best shoulder exercises and best tricep exercises for men — you can do them quickly at any time.

RELATED: The 12 Best Shoulder Workouts & Exercises For Men


Most men turn to oblique exercises because they want to lose weight fast. Unfortunately, if you want to lose weight, the best thing to do is look at the best exercise bikes on the market. The best oblique exercises for men will not burn as much fat as other workouts, but they are crucial to your overall health and strength.

One of the appealing things about oblique workouts is that like the best forearm exercises, they’re among the best lunch break exercises. You do not need equipment for most oblique workouts, so you can do them anywhere and at any time. 

Editor’s Note: The fitness content on Boss Hunting is informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical or professional fitness advice. When starting a new training regimen and/or diet, consulting with a trusted medical professional or trainer is always a good idea.


The Best Oblique Exercises & Workouts For Men

1. Cross-Body Mountain Climber

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Target muscles: Obliques, abs, delts, quads
  • Equipment needed: None
  • Sets: 3-4
  • Reps: 30-40
  • Rest: 60 seconds

Benefits:

  • Works your abdominal and oblique muscles.
  • Incorporates cardio, getting your heart rate up.
  • Does not require equipment.

One of the simplest but most effective oblique exercises for men is the cross-body mountain climber. It is a perfect workout for people who want to lose weight because it doubles as a cardio workout. It targets your core muscles as a whole, not just your obliques. What makes this workout great for beginners and advanced athletes is it is a high-intensity workout that will engage your core while getting your heart rate up. It burns calories while building muscle in your obliques.

  1. Start by entering a high plank position. Ensure your hands are below your shoulders. Your glutes should be slightly higher than your shoulders.
  2. Next, you should bring your left knee from the ground towards your right elbow. Try to keep the rest of your body as still as you can while moving your leg.
  3. Bring your left knee back to its original position.
  4. Repeat the process with your right leg.
  5. Continue to repeat this process for as many reps as you like. Move slowly to get more out of the workout.

RELATED: The Best Rear Delt Exercises For Men


2. Spider Push-Up

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Target muscles: Obliques, abs, pecs, quads
  • Equipment needed: None
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 10-15
  • Rest: 60 seconds

Benefits:

  • Work out your upper body and build a strong core with the same exercise.
  • You get good practice activating your entire core so you can try other dynamic movements.
  • Practice performing several movements simultaneously. The ability to do this allows you to perform several other exercises.

Do not worry, you do not need to turn into Spiderman to master this exercise. That being said, you might feel like one when you are finished. It targets several muscle groups including your obliques. While the actual push-up works muscles in your arms, keeping your body stable in awkward positions is the work of your obliques.

  1. Get into a plank position. Your hands should be placed slightly outside your shoulders. You need your hands placed wider than regular planks because of how this exercise works.
  2. Bend your elbows until they reach a 45-degree angle. As you bend your elbows, you can bring your body closer to the floor.
  3. As you lower to a 45-degree angle, bring your right knee up and out so that it touches your elbow. If you cannot reach your elbow, bring it as far as possible.
  4. Complete the push-up by straightening your arms. You should simultaneously bring your foot back to its original position. 
  5. Return to a standing position. 
  6. Repeat these steps on the opposite side of your body. Sets of 10 are a good option for beginners.

3. Rotational Medicine Ball Throw

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Target muscles: Obliques, abs
  • Equipment needed: Medicine ball
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 20 on each side
  • Rest: 60 seconds

Benefits:

  • Improves coordination and power simultaneously.
  • Improves your core’s ability to transmit force.
  • Includes conditioning in your oblique workout.

Here is a workout that requires a piece of equipment, but it is just one. The medicine ball is a foundational piece of many core exercises. Using a medicine ball, you can be more efficient in your oblique exercises.

An interesting thing about this workout is it disregards the principles of most oblique exercises. Most of these workouts encourage slow movements, but that is not the case here. With a rotational medicine ball throw, the goal is fast movements with lots of power. This workout engages your obliques quicker than most other exercises.

  1. Find a wall and stand next to it. Start in a standing, kneeling, or lunge position, depending on your fitness level. Standing is recommended for beginners, whereas the lunge position is the most difficult.
  2. Position your front hand under the ball, and the backhand behind it.
  3. Throw the ball at the wall with force, catching it when it bounces back. Try to use power from your back, knee, and hip.

4. Side Plank with Modifications

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Target muscles: Obliques, abs
  • Equipment needed: None
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 30 on seconds each side
  • Rest: 60 seconds

Benefits:

  • Builds strength and endurance.
  • Strengthens your core as a whole.

When it comes to oblique exercises for men, the side plank position is your bread and butter. It is an exercise you can perform without any equipment, and it works your obliques more than almost any other workout. It is similar to the traditional plank, but you rest on one arm on your side rather than two. As a result, it is more challenging than traditional planks.

  1. Choose a side and lie on it.
  2. Bring yourself up with your hand or forearm. If you have bad wrists, it is better to use your forearm.
  3. The easiest version is to bend your knees at a 45-degree angle. However, if you feel strong, you can perform this workout with your legs extended.
  4. Your feet should be touching, and your hips should be raised rather than sagging.
  5. Extend the arm not holding you up. Doing so helps you balance. 
  6. Hold the plank for as long as you like.
  7. If you want a more advanced version, you can lift your top leg so that all your weight goes on your bottom leg.
  8. Once you finish on one side, switch sides to work out both sides of your body.

RELATED: The 9 Best Gyms In Sydney To Tighten Your Sloppy Rig


5. Bird Dog

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Target muscles: Obliques, abs
  • Equipment needed: None
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 30 seconds on each side
  • Rest: 60 seconds

Benefits:

  • While bird dogs are not challenging, they strengthen your stability muscles.
  • Low impact and does not strain your body.
  • Can be performed anywhere and without any equipment.
  • You will not sweat from this workout, so you can perform them anytime.

If you are a beginner, you might be intimidated by some of the workouts we have discussed thus far. Fortunately, there are several simple exercises for you to try. For example, bird dogs are easy to perform and do not put much strain on your body.

  1. Get on all fours with your hands and knees touching the ground. Your hands, knees, shoulders, and hips should be in line.
  2. Brace your core before reaching out with one arm and the opposite leg.
  3. Keep your core stable, holding your extended limbs in position for a moment.
  4. Bring your limbs back to their original position.
  5. Repeat with the opposite side. Do this workout in 30-second sets.

6. Bicycle Crunch

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Target muscles: Obliques, abs
  • Equipment needed: None
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 15-20 on each side
  • Rest: 60 seconds

Benefits:

  • No equipment is required.
  • Incorporates cardio into your core workout.

Crunches are a staple of core workouts, and the same is true of oblique workouts. Your core and obliques are linked, and as a result, they will use similar workouts to strengthen them. Bicycle crunches incorporate cardio into traditional crunches, and you twist to work your obliques.

  1. Lie on the ground with your legs in a table-top position.
  2. Put your hands behind your head with your elbows bent. Your elbows should be pointing away from your head, not towards your feet.
  3. Left your head and shoulders off the ground.
  4. Bring your right elbow to your left knee, and at the same time, straighten your right leg.
  5. Once your leg is fully extended, bring it back to its original position while simultaneously twisting and straightening your left leg. 
  6. Your legs should not touch the ground while you perform this workout.
  7. Perform this workout for as long as you want, and at whatever pace works for you.

7. V-Up

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Target muscles: Obliques, abs
  • Equipment needed: None
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 15-20
  • Rest: 60 seconds

Benefits:

  • You do not need any equipment.
  • Works your obliques and core aggressively.
  • Improves your flexibility.

The V-Up is another fantastic exercise that will burn your obliques. It is popular among people who do CrossFit, so you know it will hurt. This workout requires that you control your movements as you move up and down.

  1. Lie down on your back and extend your arms behind your head. Keep your arms in a straight line and let your legs touch the floor with your feet touching.
  2. Lift your upper body and your legs simultaneously. Your arms and legs should stay straight. However, if you are not very flexible, it is okay to bend your limbs a little.
  3. Slowly lower your legs and arms. Go as slowly as possible so that it hurts as you return to the resting position.
  4. Repeat this movement as many times as you like.

8. Heel Taps

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Target muscles: Obliques, abs
  • Equipment needed: None
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 20-30 on each side
  • Rest: 60 seconds

Benefits:

  • It targets forgotten sections of your core.
  • Low-impact exercise.
  • No equipment is required.

Heel taps require simple movements, but it is one of the best workouts for your obliques. The great thing about this workout is it is a side crunch that you do in the opposite position. Keep your shoulders off the floor during this workout to create tension.

  1. Start by lying on your back. Keep your knees bent, arms down, and feet flat. Your palm position does not matter. They can face up or down.
  2. Lift your head and neck, using your core to keep them off the ground.
  3. Reach sideways with your left arm until you tap your left heel.
  4. Return to the original position before performing the same movement with your other arm.

9. Russian Twist

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Target muscles: Obliques, abs
  • Equipment needed: Medicine ball, dumbbell
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 20-30 on each side
  • Rest: 60 seconds

Benefits:

  • Improves core strength and stability.
  • Incorporates cardio into your workout.

Another one of the best oblique exercises for men is the Russian twist. With this workout, you can dynamically work your obliques. You have two options when you perform this workout. The beginner option is to keep your feet on the ground. However, we recommend trying to keep your feet off the floor for a more challenging workout.

  1. Sit down on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Lean back as far as you want. The further you lean back, the harder the workout. If you want a more challenging workout, this is when you should lift your feet off the ground.
  3. Twist your torso so that your arms drop on either side.
  4. Continue twisting back and forth for 30 seconds or longer if you are an advanced athlete.

10. Woodchop

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Target muscles: Obliques, abs, delts
  • Equipment needed: Kettlebell
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 20-30 on each side
  • Rest: 60 seconds

Benefits:

  • Works your arms and shoulders in addition to your obliques.
  • Improves posture and stability.

Here we are returning to another exercise that encourages fast movements. To perform this workout, you need a dumbbell or cable machine. You should do your best to keep your back in a straight line and your body rigid while performing this workout.

  1. Grab a dumbbell. The heavier the dumbbell, the more challenging the workout will be.
  2. Hold the dumbbell with both hands on one side of your body.
  3. Squat down while slightly rotating towards the dumbbell.
  4. Stand up while simultaneously swinging the dumbbell upwards across your body. The power going to the dumbbell should come from the rotation of your torso.
  5. As you move, pivot to the toe of your opposite foot, bringing the dumbbell above your opposite shoulder.
  6. Return to a standing position. 
  7. Repeat 10 times before switching to the opposite side.

11. Hanging Oblique Raise

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Target muscles: Obliques, abs, forearms
  • Equipment needed: Overhead bar
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 10-15
  • Rest: 60 seconds

Benefits:

  • Improves grip strength while working your obliques.
  • Aggressively work your left and right obliques.

Sticking with exercises you can do at your gym but not at home is the hanging oblique raise. To perform this workout, you need a bar you can hang from. As a result, most people cannot do this workout at home.

  1. Jump up and grab the bar. Your feet should not touch the floor, so you should hang from the bar.
  2. Keep your knees slightly bent and bring them up towards the left side of your torso.
  3. Bring your knees back to the original position before switching sides.
  4. Continue alternating until you complete your set.

12. Single Arm Farmer’s Carry

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Target muscles: Obliques, abs, forearms
  • Equipment needed: Overhead bar
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 10-15
  • Rest: 60 seconds

Benefits:

  • Strengthens your obliques and quads simultaneously.
  • Alleviates pain in your lower back.

The single-arm farmer’s carry is a fantastic workout for people who want to strengthen their obliques and legs simultaneously. It also helps eliminate lower back pain by improving your posture.

  1. Pick up a dumbbell in one hand. The weight is up to you.
  2. Start walking while maintaining your posture. Engage your core muscles while you walk.
  3. Swap sides after a specified amount of time. Walk at the same time with the weight in your other hand.

13. T-Rotation

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Target muscles: Obliques, abs
  • Equipment needed: None
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 20-30 on each side
  • Rest: 60 seconds

Benefits:

  • No equipment is required.
  • Easy to perform and works your obliques well.
  • Can be performed anywhere.

Here we have another classic oblique exercise for men. Additionally, you should be happy to hear that we are getting back to a workout you can do with nothing but your body. The focus of this workout is stability while moving.

  1. Start in a push-up position. Keep your arms extended and in line with your shoulder. 
  2. Starting with your right side, lift your right hand, rotating it towards the right side of your body until you are nearly in a side plank position. When in this position, your body will look like a T.
  3. Reverse the movement so that you move towards the left. Keep your hips raised and your body stable as you move.

14. Bear Crunch

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Target muscles: Obliques, abs
  • Equipment needed: None
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 20-30 on each side
  • Rest: 60 seconds

Benefits:

  • No equipment is required.
  • Low impact.

We have mentioned crunches a few times and how they are useful, and we return to them here. The bear crunch is a variation of traditional crunches that focuses on your obliques.

  1. Begin by getting on all fours with your knees slightly raised.
  2. Bring your left knee to your right elbow in a slow and controlled manner. Bend your right arm as your knee moves.
  3. Keep your left arm on the ground, holding your body weight.
  4. Return to the starting position, repeating on the opposite side.

15. Hip-Thrust

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Target muscles: Obliques, abs
  • Equipment needed: Bench
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 20-30
  • Rest: 60 seconds

Benefits:

  • Core stability improvement.
  • Encourages strong posture.

Hip thrusts are among the best oblique exercises for men. For more of a challenge, you can incorporate a barbell or heavyweight.

  1. Lie on the ground with your hands under your hips.
  2. Pull your navel towards your spine.
  3. Bring your hips up a few inches from the floor. Keep your legs pointing towards the ceiling.
  4. Slowly lower your hips and return your legs to their original position.

16. Side Plank & Row

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Target muscles: Obliques, abs, rear delts
  • Equipment needed: Elastic band
  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 15-20 on each side
  • Rest: 60 seconds

Benefits:

  • Improvements to arm strength along with obliques.
  • Strengthens shoulders.

For the final exercise on our list, we return to side planks. For this version, you will be including some rowing.

  1. Lie on your side next to a cable station. Hold onto the handle.
  2. Get into a side plank.
  3. Pull the handle towards your ribs.
  4. Slowly let your arm extend.

What Are the Different Oblique Muscles?

To find the best oblique exercises for men, you need to understand the muscles you are working out (2). It’s crucial to understand that every time you’re working out, you’re not just working one muscle. There are over 650 muscles in the human body, so it’d be unreasonable to expect to only workout one. 

However, we do not need to focus on many here as the obliques are simple compared to other muscle groups. Remember: we’re not focusing on the abdominals as a whole, just the obliques. So, when people refer to obliques, they’re referring to a muscle group composed of two muscles. Those muscles are the External Oblique Muscle and Internal Oblique Muscle. 

Image credit: getbodysmart.com

It is important to note that while there are a few muscles in your eye referred to as oblique muscles, they’re not what we’re looking at today. Those muscles include the inferior oblique muscle and superior oblique muscle.

These muscles are on the sides of your body and contribute to your stability. Obliques do not include the muscles you think of when you picture a six-pack. The most well-known muscle in that muscle group is the Rectus Abdominis. When you flex that muscle you can see your six-pack.

External Oblique Muscle

The external oblique muscle is one of the outermost abdominal muscles. It extends from the bottom half of the ribs and down to the pelvis. The external oblique muscles on each side of your body cover the sides of your abdominal area. They have a large surface area and are located directly below the skin and fat.

Your external oblique muscles help you rotate. When you stand up straight and turn your body, you are using your external oblique muscles. Additionally, they help stabilize the core muscles and pull the chest downwards.

External oblique muscles are also crucial to your everyday functions. Notably, they help with forced expiration in breathing. So, without these muscles, you would be unable to breathe properly.

Best Oblique Exercises

Internal Oblique Muscle

Your internal oblique muscle is on the lateral side of your abdomen. It’s a wide and thin muscle that forms one of the layers of the lateral abdominal wall. This muscle runs along the external oblique on the outer side of your body. 

The internal oblique muscle has fewer functions than the outer oblique muscle, but it is still very important. It flexes the trunk when it is bilaterally contracted.


Final Thoughts

Obliques are great muscles to work out as a beginner, and training obliques is a must for anyone who wants to take their fitness to the next level. You can perform many oblique workouts from home, so get started today!

Best Oblique Exercises

Best Oblique Exercises — Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the most frequently asked questions about the best oblique exercises and workouts for men.

What is the Most Effective Oblique Exercise?

Side planks are the most popular oblique exercise. They strengthen your body without the need for extra equipment.

How Can You Tone Your Obliques Fast?

The best way to tone your obliques is to work them out while cutting calories. High-intensity exercises like bicycle crunches are best for this goal.

Do Obliques Make Your Waist Bigger?

Yes, strengthening your obliques will thicken your obliques. So, if you want a small waistline, your sole focus should not be on obliques.

Do Planks Help Obliques?

Yes, side planks target your obliques. Traditional planks help obliques too, but not as much as side planks.

Are Obliques Hard to Get?

Yes, obliques are difficult to tone. Like any muscle, it is difficult to tone it. It requires dedication to a strict diet and consistent workouts.

How Long Does it Take to Build Obliques?

Everyone is different, but it will take four to eight weeks to notice a change in your body after starting oblique workouts. Building muscle takes a long time, regardless of the muscle.

Can You Work On Obliques every day?

Yes, you can, but you should give yourself rest days. Your body needs time to build itself back up after breaking it down. If you do not rest, your progress will be slow.

How Often Should You Do Oblique Exercises?

You can safely do oblique exercises two or three times a week. Work out other muscles on the other days of the week.


Citations

  1. Magnetic resonance imaging of the functional anatomy of the superior oblique muscle, Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, April 1995.
  2. External Abdominal Oblique, Physiopedia.

The Boss Hunting Fitness Reviewer — Jono Castano, Certificate IV in Fitness, Precision Nutrition Level 1

Jono Castano is a Sydney-based celebrity personal trainer and certified nutrition coach who specialises in fitness, training, workouts and diet plans. He is the co-founder of the popular Acero fitness brand and fitness app and has become well-known for his extensive work with noted figures like Rebel Wilson, Jessica Mauboy, Lincoln Lewis, Joel Creasy, and The Veronicas.

Jono has built a large social media following with over 800,000 subscribers on Instagram. He has also been profiled by publications such as Men’s Health and has become one of the most recognisable fitness instructors in Australia.

  • Location:  Sydney, Australia
  • Credentials:  Certificate IV in Fitness, Precision Nutrition Level 1
  • Expertise:  Fitness, Training, Personal Training, Workouts, Diet Plan
Nick Kenyon
WORDS by
Nick Kenyon is the Editor of Boss Hunting, joining the team after working as the Deputy Editor of luxury watch magazine Time+Tide. He has a passion for watches, with other interests across style, sports and more. Get in touch at nick (at) luxity.com.au

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