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Here Are The Core Reasons Why You Should Never Forget Your Obliques


The six-pack muscle, the rectus abdominals gets all the attention, and rightly so. When your diet is dialed in and you’re strong and lean, the six-pack is the center of the attention. But the two muscles on either side of your rectus abs called the oblique muscles are either an afterthought and are trained with side planks and Pallof presses or are totally forgotten about.

Often referred to as the love handle muscles, the obliques not only look good but have important benefits for your health and performance. Here we’ll dive into the oblique muscles anatomy and function, the benefits of training them, and 3 sneaky strength exercises that will strengthen this important muscle.


The oblique muscles are comprised of two main muscles: the internal and external obliques. They’re beside your six-pack muscles and run from the hips to the rib cage. The external oblique starts from the external surfaces of ribs 5-12 and inserts the Linea alba, pubic tubercle, and anterior half of the iliac crest around the pelvis.

The internal obliques run directly under the external obliques, and the muscle fibers travel perpendicular to each other. Internal obliques originate from the Inguinal ligament, Iliac crest, and the Lumbodorsal (back) fascia and insert on Linea alba, Pectineal Line of Pubis, and ribs 10-12.

The external and internal oblique function both bilaterally and unilaterally. But for our purposes, think of the obliques as a single muscle.

The oblique muscles three primary functions are:

  • Lateral flexion
  • Rotation
  • Spinal Flexion

They play a role in creating intra-abdominal pressure which is when you take a deep breath in and tighten your core area before deadlifting or squatting. This action braces your spine to protect it from the compressive and shear loads placed upon it by the barbell. Doing so allows you to handle the heavier load with less injury risk.

But the obliques make their money by protecting your lower back from rotation known as anti-rotation.


Yes, having sleek love handles is amazing but there are a few important benefits of paying attention to your oblique muscles.

  • Helps to Reduce Lower-Back Pain: Low back pain sucks and if you’re serious about lifting, you should be doing everything in your power to reduce your chances of this. Because the obliques are attached to the spine, their strength, and length can take the pressure off your vertebrae, discs, and other neighboring muscles to reduce your chances of suffering from a sore back.
  • Improved Posture: Most muscles that attach to the spine play a role in good posture. If your obliques and other core muscles are too weak to support the spine, other muscles like the hip flexors and erector spinae muscles have to pick up the slack. This may result in posterior pelvic tilt and poor posture. Better to rectify this by training your obliques and sitting up straighter.
  • Better Balance: If you wobble from side to side excessively when you walk, bend over, or stand, weak obliques may be the reason. As lateral flexion is one of the oblique functions, anti-lateral flexion is where the obliques come in. The stronger your obliques, the steadier you will be on your feet, therefore improving your balance and stability.
  • Improved Center of Power: The core’s main job is to prevent movement so you can transfer power from your lower to the upper body without any ‘energy leaks’ from your mid-section. Strong obliques prevent lateral flexion and rotation so you can change direction better, run faster, lift stronger, and throw balls hard and fast without getting injured.

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Side planks and Pallof press are great oblique exercises but when you’re looking to add strength and muscle and haven’t time for direct core training give these 3 exercises a shot.


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All offset carries train the oblique muscles because to maintain good posture and gait you’re training anti-rotation and lateral flexion. The addition of the band takes this to another level. The oscillating resistance of the band puts further demand on your obliques to prevent lateral flexion and activates the body’s smaller stabilizers (shoulder, core, and hips) while improving proprioception.

Muscles trained: Obliques, glutes, shoulders, upper back, and forearms.

How to do it: Loop a heavy band around a kettlebell. Holding the band close to the KB makes this exercise easier, further away more difficult. Take a firm grip on the band with your shoulders down and chest up and walk with good posture. Switch sides and repeat. Try three sets on each side for 40 to 50 yards.

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Holding the Birddog position on the bench reduces your stability to help improve core strength but the real oblique magic happens when you start rowing from there. Your obliques help prevent anti-rotation and lateral flexion which stop you from falling off the bench. Any loss of form will result in losing your balance because rowing from an unstable position gives you instant feedback. Plus, it’s an isometric Birddog, which is great for the lower back and core.

Muscles trained: Obliques, glutes, hamstrings, forearms, biceps, forearm, and upper and lower back.

How to do it: If you cannot perform a bird dog without any compensation then don’t do this. Start with 50% to 60% of the weight you usually use for your single-arm rows. Get your knees and hands on the bench and extend your right leg behind you. Pick up the weight with your left hand a perform a row taking the dumbbell to the front of your hip. Slowly lower down and repeat. Perform this instead of your usual single-arm rowing variation for three to four sets of eight to 12 reps per side.

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The side-to-side landmine press is a great option when you want to get more aggressive with loading. Because you’re holding the barbell with two hands, you’ll be able to train the chest, shoulders, and triceps harder and heavier than other landmine press variations. But this is a sneaky exercise for the obliques because of the pressing and lowering from shoulder to shoulder trains anti-lateral flexion and rotation too. Your arms will not be the only thing sore after you do this exercise.

Muscles trained: Obliques, chest, shoulders, triceps, and forearms.

How to do it: Hold the end of the barbell with both hands a few inches from the right shoulder and get your feet wider than hip-width apart. Keeping your shoulders down and chest up press the barbell to the center of the body and then slowly lower down to the left shoulder. Then press to the center and slowly lower down to the right shoulder. Alternate sides for even reps. Perform this instead of your usual shoulder press variation for three to four sets of 12 to16 reps.

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