The Very Best Oblique Exercises For Men And Women To Get An Awesome, Sexy Waistline

It seems like I’m always hearing about six pack abs but not too often is there talk about the oblique muscles. In my opinion, these can really make or break an awesome midsection. What is tricky about doing oblique exercises is that you really have to be careful that you are doing the right types of movements. Not only can you over-develop them to where they look too large, but you can also tweak your spine.

Best Oblique Exercises For Men & Women

Sometimes you will see men with really big oblique muscles which actually takes away from a good V shaped body — even one with good definition. As for women, the same principle applies. Big and bulky is certainly not what you’re going to want to shoot for when it comes to your waistline.

Years ago, I read that you are never supposed to do oblique exercises because of the fact that building them too large will negatively effect your look. Although I agree with the fact that you shouldn’t try to build large obliques, I completely disagree with the fact that you should never work them. As long as you do your ab workouts with the right exercises, I think you definitely should work them.

Oblique Exercises

Whether you are a man or woman, the best oblique workouts are going to concentrate on tightening and toning the muscle more so than building them. To do this, you should mainly do isometric exercises.

As defined by Wikipedia, an isometric exercise is:

“… a form of exercise involving the static contraction of a muscle without any visible movement in the angle of the joint …meaning that in these exercises the length of the muscle and the angle of the joint do not change, though contraction strength may be varied. This is in contrast to isotonic contractions, in which the contraction strength does not change, though the muscle length and joint angle do.”

“Bad” VS “Good” Oblique Muscles

In case you aren’t on board, just try searching for obliques and see which ones stand out as looking better. This picture shows two men with developed core muscles; one has larger oblique muscles while the other has a more tight & firm look.

Comparison of obliques

Alright … hopefully we’re on the same page. The tighter and less bulky oblique muscles look much better than the larger and bulky.

3 Best Oblique Exercises For Men & Women

Exercise #1. Renegade Rows – These really hit the oblique muscles well.
Start out in a pushup position and holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand. As with most exercises you’ll do, form is key. Don’t worry about using a real heavy weight on these. Make sure to hold a solid plank position and do these in a controlled motion.

As you row one dumbbell up, concentrate on stabilizing your body with the other arm and keeping a tight core. As you lower your arm stay tight and in control. Easily place the dumbbell on the floor and row with the opposite arm.

Here’s a quick video from Yavor over at Relative Strength doing a renegade row with proper form. Notice there is no twisting.

Exercise #2. Side Plank – On Hand – This is a great isometric oblique exercise.
Lie on your side with your right hand on the floor or a mat. Tighten your core and lift your hips up so that your body is in a straight line. An option is to put your left arm straight up so that your right to left arm make a straight line.

Exercise #3. Side Plank – On Elbow – Slightly easier than on hand.
Lie on your side with your right elbow on the floor or a mat. Tighten your core and lift your hips up so that your body is in a straight line. Make sure that you don’t allow your hips to sag – it gets tough after a while.

Here is a video of a good example of doing side planks.

Even The Best Workout Is Not Enough By Itself

Although these are great exercises that you can do to tighten and tone your obliques without making them big and bulky, just doing them alone will not give you a great midsection.

Well, it might be great, but if it’s hidden under a layer of fat then no one is going to see it.

The truth is – you must have a low enough body fat percentage for your abs to look good. There are many good workout routines out there, even ones focusing solely on your abs. But the ultimately – your diet must be good as well.

More Great Core Exercises

For some more exercises to target your core and for an awesome plank routine, checkout my post about the some of the best core exercises that I’ve found for developing good abs without doing sit up or crunches.

Also, I put together some good lower ab exercises to target the hard to hit section of your abs without wrecking havoc on your spine.