Keep lower back pain at bay with these exercises that target your core – specifically, your obliques. Here are the best oblique exercises to keep you feeling good!
When it comes to strengthening the core, we often forget about the obliques. These are the abdominal muscles that run along the sides of your abdominals, from the hips to the ribs.
The obliques are responsible for bending the body side-to-side, twisting the torso, and flexing the spine. Research proves that strong oblique muscles can prevent and combat back pain, since they are directly attached to the deep tissue of the lower back. (1)
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The best way to strengthen your obliques is to do exercises that contract them, like in side plank, and bend them, like in a Russian twist. A combination of these sorts of oblique exercises will stabilize your spine to prevent back pain.
Practice these nine oblique exercises two or three times per week. The goal is to get them nice and sore. After the soreness subsides, practice them again. If any of these oblique exercises start to feel too easy, increase your reps or sets or add weight to make them challenging again.
All you need is your own bodyweight. A yoga mat is optional!
Side Plank | 30 sec per side
Start with this exercise that challenges your obliques to keep your hips from sinking towards the ground.
- Lie on your right side and prop yourself up on your right forearm. Stack your feet and flex them, and place your left hand on your hip.
- Press into your right forearm to lift your hips off the ground and towards the sky. Contract your abs, quads, and glutes.
- Hold for 30 seconds, remembering to breathe deeply.
- Switch sides.
Side Plank Twists | 15 reps per side
Take your side plank to the next level with this twisting motion. Get ready to feel your sides burn!
- Begin in a side plank position on your right forearm. Squeeze your abs, quads, and glutes tight.
- Inhale and reach your left arm straight up towards the sky. Then, exhale and thread your left arm underneath your torso to come into a twist.
- Repeat for 15 reps, then switch sides.
Marching Twists | 30 sec
Tone and strengthen your obliques with these marching twists that also get your heart rate pumping! To make this exercise more challenging, hold a dumbbell between your hands.
- Stand with your feet hip-width distance apart and clasp your hands together in front of your chest. Engage your core.
- Exhale to lift your right knee high as you twist your torso to the right.
- Inhale to release back to center, then exhale to lift your left leg while twisting your torso to the left.
- Continue marching and twisting for 30 seconds.
Russian Twists | 30 sec
Brace your abs as you twist to maximize this classic exercise. To make this exercise even more challenging, hold a dumbbell between your hands.
- Sit with your knees bent and your heels on the floor. Straighten your spine and clasp your hands in front of your chest. Engage your abs.
- Lean back a few inches and lift your heels off the ground. You should feel your obliques working.
- On an exhale, twist your torso to the right. Inhale back to center, then exhale to twist your torso to the left.
- Continue twisting side-to-side for 30 seconds.
Boat Twists | 12 reps
Sculpt and strengthen your obliques with this yoga-inspired exercise.
- Lie on your back with your legs long. Reach your arms straight above your head and bring your palms to touch. Then, lift your arms, head, shoulders, and feet to hover a few inches above the ground.
- Inhale to engage your abs, then exhale to bend your knees into your chest as you sit up, twisting to the right at the top. Try to keep your spine straight.
- Inhale to slowly lower back down, keeping your shoulders and feet hovering. Then, exhale to come up again, this time twisting to the left.
- Continue alternating for 12 reps.
Windmills | 10 reps per side
This exercise incorporates side bending to help stabilize the core, preventing back pain.
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width distance. Turn your toes out at 45 degrees and contract your abs.
- Reach your right arm straight up overhead and inhale to slide your left fingers down towards the ankle. Keep reaching up through your right arm.
- Exhale to stand back up and contract your abs at the top.
- Repeat for 10 reps before switching to the other side.
Plank Twists | 30 sec
Every single part of your abs will be on fire with this amazing, yet simple, core exercise!
- Lay on your belly and prop yourself up on your forearms.
- Tuck your toes and engage your abs as you lift your hips off the ground to come into a plank position. Make sure that your hips are in line with your shoulders and not sinking towards the ground.
- Inhale, then exhale to twist to the right until your hip taps the floor. Make sure to keep both forearms on the ground.
- Inhale your hips back up to center, then exhale to twist left.
- Continue twisting slowly side-to-side for 30 seconds.
Bicycles | 20 reps
This exercise will get those obliques strong and engaged to help combat lower back pain.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet off the floor. Place your hands behind your head. Engage your abs as you lift your head and shoulders off the ground.
- Inhale, then exhale to twist your torso to the right as you bring your left knee to your chest while straightening your right leg out in front of you.
- Inhale to come back to center, then exhale to switch directions.
- Continue alternating side for a total of 20 reps.
Spider Plank | 20 reps
Finish strong with this exercise that tones and sculpts your obliques.
- Begin in a high plank position with your arms straight. Stack your shoulders above your wrists and engage your core.
- Exhale to pick up your right foot and tap your right knee to your right triceps. Focus on contacting the right obliques as you perform this motion.
- Inhale to step the right foot back, then repeat that motion on the left side.
- Alternate slowly side-to-side for a total of 20 reps.
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