Tip: Two Exercises for Rock-Solid Obliques

Bonus: You can do them anywhere with one cheap piece of equipment.


Strong obliques are not only functional, they look pretty cool too. The obliques run along the sides of your core and scream athleticism. And you don't need a special machine to train them. You don't even have to go to the gym. Try these two exercises. All you need is a band.

  • Set the band directly over your head using something like a pull-up bar. Clench the band together using both hands, then place it over one shoulder.
  • Keeping your feet about shoulder-width apart, contract your abs and obliques to flex (and laterally flex) your spine.
  • Imagine pulling your elbow down towards your side pocket.
  • Resist the temptation to speed through your reps and fight the band from pulling you back up too fast.

Why It Works

For 3D abs, you want a good set of obliques. To achieve this, cover a bunch of different movements including spinal rotation and lateral flexion. This is on top of the "anti" movement list that you should also be including for spinal stability (core exercises). Standing band oblique crunches move you in a way that places more emphasis on your obliques when compared to regular band crunches.

  • Set a strong band up high on a pull-up bar. Using BOTH hands, pull it down by your side where only one arm will keep it in place.
  • Keep the band close to your arm as it's kept straight and by your side.
  • Press the band down your thigh by contracting your obliques and laterally flexing your spine.
  • Only laterally flex as far as comfortable before returning back to the neutral starting point.

Why It Works

Lateral flexion exercises are a forgotten component of core training. When using a good choice of exercise, they can work to load you into lateral flexion and according to one of the designed functions of your external obliques.

Cable side bends were popularized by Dave Tate and you can use some respectable weight while really focusing on your obliques. If you've got a band strong enough, then use these to pummel your obliques at the end of your ab work. High reps work best.

Gareth Sapstead is a leading strength and physique coach from the UK. He specializes in problem solving and breakthrough training techniques.

Follow on Instagram