Guide to Your Muscles: Obliques



Your obliques are important muscles in your abdomen. In today’s Guide to Your Muscles, we’ll learn about their anatomy and get some great workout tips.


Your obliques are actually two muscles: your internal oblique and your external oblique. Your internal obliques are flat sheets of muscle that can be found on either side of the lower part of your torso, originating from your lumbar fascia and your pelvis.


Your external obliques are broad and flat sheets of muscle on either side of your abs. It lies over your internal oblique, thus their respective names. The fibers of both muscles are indeed oblique relative to the midline of your body.


The obliques work together to carry out the same movements. Collectively they are the main muscles responsible for spinal rotation, and they also play significant roles in spinal lateral flexion. They also assist with your breathing: whenever you force yourself to breathe, they obligingly compress the abdominal wall.


If you have access to a cable machine, the cable woodchop is a great exercise for putting your obliques to the test. First, attach your rope to the cable tower, and then set the cable to the highest pulley position.

Now, taking both handles, kneel down and set your shoulders at a perpendicular angle to the stack. Extend your arms over the opposite shoulder, look straight ahead and then pull the rope across your body. You should finish this move at waist level.

The dumbbell side bend is another good exercise for the obliques. Start by standing up straight, with a dumbbell in one hand and your free hand clasped on your wrist. Keep your feet at about shoulder width.

Now, bend at the waist, in the opposite direction of the hand holding the weight. Make sure you breathe in! Hold the position for a second, then move back. Alternate with the other side.


Weighted oblique static holds are a great way to give your obliques a workout, with or without using weights. Begin by lying down on the floor on your side, with your back straight. Keep your arms crossed, hands touching alternate shoulders.

Now, slowly crunch your legs up off the ground, keeping them extended, and squeeze your obliques (your sides, basically) as you go. Hold the position for about 45 seconds.

This exercise can also be done with the addition of a dumbbell between your feet, once you have mastered the weightless form.

The standing oblique crunch is another great obliques exercise, one that will also warm up your legs.

Begin by standing tall, with your feet about hip width. Now, left up one leg, and try to touch it to your elbow on that side. By all means try to bring the elbow within reach, too.

Take care not to rotate back and forth as you do this. Once you have finished a set on one side, do the same thing on the other.

Whether you favor weights or bodyweight, the exercises here are a great start to getting better obliques. Stay safe and have fun!

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