While we love a good ab workout, a killer core isn’t just about a flat stomach. Whittling your middle also means paying attention to your sides, or, more specifically, your obliques. Strong obliques will make your waist appear slimmer, improve your posture, support your lower back, and make your clothes fit even better. And crunches won’t do you any favors here! So we tapped trainers with sick abs from across the country to share their secret moves for toning up the oblique muscles. Plus, cut-outs and crop tops are still holding strong in the fashion world—and they’re perfect for showing off chiseled obliques. Get ready to sweat!
How it works: Perform these moves once through for a killer oblique workout, or pick your favorite and work them into your regular routine.
You will need: 12-15 lb kettlebell, plyo box or other elevated surface, set of 5-10 lb weights. Optional: small exercise ball.
“This exercise not only tones those obliques, but also gets your heart rate up by adding some cardio, which will help you shed extra layers and reveal your waistline faster,” says Jenn Seracuse, Director of Pilates at FLEX Studios (and the model demonstrating these moves!).
A Start in on all fours with knees underneath the hips and wrists underneath shoulders. Exhale to engage the abs and lift the knees to a hover off the mat.
B Kick the right leg under body and across to the left as you rotate hips to the left and drop left heel to the mat. Simultaneously, reach left arm up. Return to all fours and hover. Do as many reps as possible for 30 seconds. Repeat on opposite side.
Side Plank with Hip Dips
A Start by lying on one side, propped up on one elbow, keeping body in a straight line, feet stacked on top of one another, hips lifted.
B Lower slowly down until hip barely touches the ground, then lift back up. Do 10-12 reps, holding last rep for 15-30 seconds before dropping. Repeat on opposite side.
Elevated Mountain Climbers
A Find an incline, like a large rock, log, or plyo box and position hands on the incline slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Pull one leg in toward chest.
B Alternate leg positions by pushing hips up while immediately extending forward leg back and pulling rear leg forward under chest. Do 2 sets of 30 reps.
A Start in a decline plank position off of a bench, chair, or couch with hands under shoulders, core engaged.
B With a straight right leg, lift up and keeping leg straight drag over towards the outside of right hand, tap toe down to the floor and lift back up to return to starting position. Do 3 sets of 10 and repeat on opposite side.
Oblique Side Sit-up
A Start kneeling, sitting to the side of knees. Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell tightly at chest.
B Engage core and squeeze glutes to raise up to kneeling position, keeping weight at chest. Then sit back down. Repeat on opposite side. Perform as many reps as possible in 1 minute. Do 3 sets.
A Lie on back, extending arms straight up overhead.
B Keeping core engaged, lift legs into tabletop position, knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Without changing the angle of knees, tilt knees left and lower feet until toes tap the floor. Lift legs back to tabletop and repeat on the other side. That’s 1 rep. Do 3 sets of 15 reps.
Curl with a Twist
A Lay down with knees bent and feet flat on floor, hips-width apart. Holding either a small exercise ball or light weight, point elbows out to the side and curl up, pressing lower back down into the mat. Hold for 10 seconds, engaging the abs.
B Twist upper body to the left while keeping the back of the waist on the floor. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the opposite side.
Toe-Heel Reaches with Weights
A Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart. With a 5 to 10 lb weight in each hand, reach right arm to right toe, followed by left arm to left toe.
B Then reach right arm along the back of leg towards right heel, followed by left arm towards left heel. Avoid bending too much from the hips. Perform this move slowly for 30 seconds, faster for 30 seconds, then double-time without weights for 30 seconds.
Plank Hip Twists
A Hold a forearm plank position, legs squeezing together for an extra inner thigh bonus.
B Twists hips up and over midline, alternating left to right. Do 10 reps, 3-4 sets.
Single-Sided Mountain Climber
A With hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, pull right knee over towards left elbow.
B Switch, pulling left leg in towards left elbow. Your right hip should be slightly lower than the left. Do as many reps as possible for 45 seconds. Repeat, bringing knees toward the right elbow. Do 4 sets per side.