5 Oblique Crunches for a Stronger, More Muscular Core

5 Oblique Crunches for a Stronger, More Muscular Core

You’ve heard of oblique crunches, maybe you’ve even done them during a Beachbody workout, but is the muscle group more of a mystery than you’d like to admit? Before we instruct you on how to use your obliques, let’s clear up any confusion right now so you know exactly what these muscles do.

 

What Are Obliques?

There are two different types of obliques — internal and external — and both are part of our core musculature.

Internal obliques

What They Are: Muscles that run from your lower ribs down to your hip and pubis.

What They Do: Help rotate and bend the torso in concert with the external obliques. They can also assist in breathing during exhalation.

Why They’re Important: In addition to rotating your torso, the internal obliques help to stabilize your body, keeping you balanced while you walk, run, throw a ball, or pick something up off the floor. The more stable you are, the more strength and power you can generate and apply to the movement.

External obliques

What They Are: A thin layer of muscle that runs across your internal obliques, extending from the middle of your rib cage down to your pelvis.

What They Do: Each one works in conjunction with the internal oblique on the opposite side of your body to rotate and bend the torso sideways, as well as with the rectus abdominis (the six-pack muscles) to flex the trunk forward.

Why They’re Important: These muscles work cooperatively with your internal obliques, so if your internal obliques are stabilizing and bracing your core before you swing a baseball bat, it’s your external obliques that take advantage of that stability to bring the bat around with as much power as possible.

 

5 Oblique Crunches for a Stronger, More Muscular Core

Now that you know what obliques are, you’re ready to develop them.

Oblique V-up
oblique crunch oblique crunches v up

Benefits: The focus here is on side flexion of the obliques, and on going as far into the end range of motion as you can.

  • Lie on your right side with your legs straight, feet stacked, and your right arm extended in front of your chest on the ground, palm down. Place your left fingertips behind your left ear. This is the starting position.
  • Keeping your core braced (imagine someone is about to punch you in the gut) and legs straight, and making sure not to push with your grounded hand, raise your torso and legs off the ground simultaneously and bring them toward one another. Your body should form an angled V shape.
  • Slowly reverse the move to return to the starting position. Perform equal reps on both sides.

Make it easier: If this move is too difficult you can modify it by keeping your legs on the ground and only elevating your torso.

 

Side plank oblique crunch
side plank oblique crunch oblique crunches

Benefits: Stability takes center stage with this plank variation, which forces you to perform it in an already challenging position.

  • Lie on your right side (feet stacked) and prop yourself up on your forearm, lifting your hips so that your body is straight from head to heels. Place your left fingertips behind your left ear. This is the starting position.
  • Keeping your core braced, slowly bring your left elbow and knee toward one another.
  • Reverse the move to return to the starting position. Perform equal reps on both sides.

 

Dead Bug with Stability Ball
oblique crunch oblique crunches deadbug with stability ball

Benefits: This exercise might look simple, but no other move targets your deep core muscles better. You’ll also engage your obliques as you lower and lift opposite limbs to and from the floor.

  • Lie on your back with your legs extended straight toward the ceiling, holding a stability ball against your shins with both hands. This is the starting position.
  • Keeping the ball in place with your right hand and left leg, brace your core and slowly lower your right leg and left arm to within six inches of the floor (both should remain in line with your body).
  • Reverse the move to return to the starting position, and repeat on your other side.
  • Continue alternating sides, performing equal reps on each.

 

Bear Crunch
oblique crunch oblique crunches bear crunch

Benefits: The rotational function of the obliques is emphasized by this move, which also works the arms, shoulders, and chest.

  • Assume a bear crawl position: Get down on all fours with your arms straight, hands below your shoulders, and your knees bent 90 degrees below your hips. (Only your hands and toes should touch the ground.)
  • Keeping your left hand and right foot on the floor, rotate your torso to the right as you bring your left knee and right elbow together.
  • Reverse the move to return to the starting position, and repeat on your other side.
  • Continue alternating sides, performing equal reps on both.

 

Bicycle Crunch
oblique crunch oblique crunches bicycle crunch

Benefits: When done with proper form, this exercises maximizes muscle recruitment throughout the core. The rotational action emphasizes the obliques.

  • Lie on your back with your hips and knees bent 90 degrees, and your fingertips placed behind your ears.
  • Raise your head and shoulders off the ground, and bring your right armpit and left knee toward each other as you extend your right leg.
  • Now bring your left armpit and right knee toward each other as you extend your left leg.
  • Continue alternating sides, performing equal reps on each.

 

Core Conclusion

Training your core is vital for overall stability, as well as for transferring power throughout your body. Target it with a couple of exercises (like those above) at the end of your workout. That’s the best time to train your core directly, as every other exercise you do (no matter what muscle it targets) will engage your core, and you don’t want to fatigue it until its work in those exercises is done.

Core conditioning is a part of every workout on Beachbody On Demand, and takes center stage in programs such as CORE DE FORCE and Hip Hop Abs. Sign up now for a free trial of Beachbody On Demand, and start working out wherever you have access to a TV set-top box or mobile device.