Picture this: You’re lying in bed and your phone hits you with a “20 percent battery remaining” message, so you pretzel yourself over to grab the charging cable that’s just out of reach. The muscles helping you twist your torso? Your obliques. These side-core muscles play a huge role in helping you move throughout your week and are in charge of a whole lot more than just helping you reach for things in bed.
According to trainer Ashley Joi, your obliques are responsible for all of your trunk’s rotating and pivoting movements, and because they’re so closely connected to your back, keeping them strong can help you avoid injury and improve your posture. As we head into week three of our ReNew Year Movement Program, we’re dedicating an entire sweat session to them.
In this 7-minute workout, Joi leads us through all kinds of twists and turns to hit those hard-to-reach muscles. The idea here is to really tune in and engage your obliques with every move, so that you’re not relying on other (probably stronger) parts of your core to do the work for you.
Try this 7-minute oblique workout
1. Cross-body mountain climbers: Set yourself up in your best plank: shoulders stacked over wrists, head in line with your spine, and core nice and tight. From there, alternate jogging your knees up towards your opposite elbows, engaging the sides of your core as you move.
2. Side plank oblique crunch, right side: Time to take drop that plank down to your elbows and flip it over to the right side. From this side plank position, twist your body and tap your right hip to the ground, then use your obliques to pull it back up to neutral. For an extra challenge, stack your feet, or stagger them if you need some more stability. No matter which version of the move you’re trying, remember to keep your core tight and your hips nice and high every time you reset.
3. Side plank oblique crunch, left side: Now that you are a side-planking, oblique-crunching expert, let’s take this whole operation over to your left side and repeat exactly what you just did. Be sure to focus on staying in control of your body, both on the way up and on the way back down.
4. Full sit-up with Russian twist: For a (much needed) break for your shoulders, come down to your back. Plant your heels solidly on the floor, brace your core, and use your abdominal muscles to bring your upper body up to seated for a full sit-up. Once you’re there, use your obliques to twist your upper body to your left side, then to the right, then slowly lower back down to the ground using your core.
5. Bicycles: Would it really be an oblique workout without a set of bicycles? Lying on your back, place both hands behind your head. Use your core to crunch your body up, and bring your right elbow to meet your left knee. Then, switch sides, connecting your opposite elbow and knee every time you come up from the ground. You can take these fast or slow, but make sure you stay moving for the full 40-second interval.
6. Plank hip-dips: This move is all about control. Set yourself up in a solid elbow plank, then start to draw a rainbow with your hips. Bring one hip down to the ground, then move through the center (without letting your butt pop up) and tap the other hip down. Your feet may wobble a bit, but don’t get frustrated! You’ve got this.
7. Crunch heel-taps: For the last move of your oblique workout, it’s time to reset and refocus. Lying on your back with your hands by your sides, bring your knees up to tabletop. Engage your core to bring your head, neck, and shoulders off of the ground, and move your body as if you are trying to touch your fingertips to your heels, one side at a time.
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