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6 Exercises to Develop Perfect Obliques

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!

1. Bird Dog Crunches

How to: Start on all fours, placing your hands flat on the ground directly beneath your shoulders, and your knees beneath your hips with a flat back position (a). Engage your core and drive your right arm straight out from your shoulder, while your left leg drives straight back from your hip, keeping both parallel to the floor throughout the “reach” portion of this movement (b). Squeeze your right arm and left leg back to the original starting position and hold for split second before starting the second rep (c). Repeat this movement for 10 reps without setting your right arm or left back on the ground, then switch to the left arm/right leg combo. Complete 3-4 sets of 10 reps on each side with 30 seconds rest between each set.
Beginner modification: Reach with only your arm at first. Then as you become more comfortable, reach with just your leg before you graduate to the full movement.

 2. Hanging Knee Raise Oblique Crunches

Performing regular hanging knee raises might be annoying as it may irritate the shoulders and it’s quite difficult to stop the swinging while you do it. However, hanging knee raise oblique crunches at least allow avoiding that annoying swinging.
Start it by using the same position as when doing regular hanging knee raises. But instead of moving your knees straight up, make a small twist and move them closer to your ribcage. It’ll allow giving plenty of work to your obliques even if you only do 10 reps per set for both sides of your body.

3. Offset Dumbbell Squat

Grab a medium-weight dumbbell with one hand and hold it in the racked position, so one end rests by your shoulder with your elbow bent. Lower your hips toward until your quads are at least parallel to the floor. Pause, and then reverse the movement to the standing position.

Keep your back in the upright position. Perform all prescribed reps on one side, switch hands and repeat.

4. Side Blank

Lie on one side with your legs straight and prop up your upper body on your forearm. Raise your hips so your body forms a straight line from your head to your heels.

If you want to make it harder elevate your feet or add a torso rotation.

5. Single-Leg Toe Touches

How to: Lie down on your back with your legs flat against the floor and arms extended above your head (a). Lift your left leg up with your foot directly over your hip and a slight knee bend. Try to keep your left leg engaged in this position for the entire movement (b). Tuck your chin towards your chest, reach your right arm towards your left foot by contracting your core and hold for a split second (c). Return to the original starting position while keeping your foot and hand elevated off the ground and repeat for 4 additional reps before switching to your right leg and left arm (d). Complete 3-4 sets of 5 reps per side with 30 seconds rest between sets.
Beginner Alternative: Work from the same position on your back, but bend your knee at a 90-degree angle halfway towards your chest. Touch your elbow to the opposite knee. As you become more familiar with this movement, try to progress to the full range of motion by straightening your leg a little more each workout until your foot is directly over your hip.

6. Lying Leg Oblique Leg Throwdowns

If you have a workout buddy, then try doing this exercise together. Lie down on the floor and move your arms so that you could hold his ankles. It provides the needed stability for the exercise.