Looking to sculpt those side abs and build a trimmer waistline? If so, you’re in the right place. We chatted with Tracie Haines-Landram, CSCS, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and nutrition coach with Barbend, who lists the 10 best waist exercises for stronger obliques. These exercises were explicitly curated to help you achieve a stronger core and a more defined midsection. Regardless of your fitness level, incorporating these exercises into your routine can tighten your tummy and bring you closer to your fitness goals.

Working your obliques offers benefits beyond a sculpted trunk. Research indicates that your obliques are vital for core stability and posture since they connect your pelvis and ribcage to your spinal connective tissue. However, the obliques remain an often neglected muscle group. Fortunately, the exercises below will engage your oblique muscles from various angles to help deliver a well-rounded core workout.

“The obliques play a crucial role in trunk stability, posture, and everyday movements such as twisting, bending, and reaching,” Haines-Landram explains. “Strengthening the obliques can enhance core strength, improve athletic performance, improve posture, and reduce the risk of injury.”

If you’re ready to start shrinking that waistline, read on for Haines-Landram’s go-to waist exercises for stronger obliques. Then, don’t miss these 5 Bodyweight Workouts to Target Flabby Arms.

Single-Arm Farmer’s Carry

Single-arm farmer’s carries are excellent for strengthening the obliques, as they require stability and core engagement to keep your balance while carrying a heavy weight.

“Pick up a dumbbell or kettlebell with one arm and hold it by your side, keeping your shoulders pulled back and core engaged to maintain stability,” says Haines-Landram. “Walk 15 to 20 meters in a controlled movement and upright posture, resisting the urge to lean to the side. Switch the weight to the other side, and walk back to the starting position for one rep.” Complete three sets of five to six reps with one minute of rest between rounds.

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Waiter’s Carry

The waiter’s carry is another effective exercise for targeting the obliques since holding a weight overhead on one side engages the muscles along the sides of your torso.

“Pick up a dumbbell or kettlebell with one arm, then press and stabilize overhead,” instructs Haines-Landram. “Keep the weight straight overhead as you walk 15 to 20 meters in a controlled movement and upright posture. Switch weight to the other side and walk back for a single rep.” You can also use a weight plate, as shown in the video. Aim for three sets of five to six reps with one minute of rest between sets.

Wood Chops

woman doing cable wood chops
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Wood chops are a dynamic movement that mimics the motion of chopping wood and engages the entire core region, including the obliques.

“Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and hold a high cable pulley or resistance band in both hands. Keep your arms straight and rotate your torso to bring the weight from one side of your body to the other, as if chopping wood,” explains Haines-Landram. Perform three sets of 10 reps per side. Rest for one minute between sets.

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Russian Twists

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This classic oblique exercise is a stellar movement for targeting the sides of the waist.

Haines-Landram says, “Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet lifted. Hold a weight or medicine ball and rotate your torso side to side, lightly touching the weight to the floor on one side and then the other.” Do three sets of 10 to 15 reps per side with one minute of rest.

Medicine Ball Tosses

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Next up is medicine ball tosses—another dynamic exercise that engages the obliques while boosting your explosive power.

“Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a medicine ball with both hands at waist height,” instructs Haines-Landram. “Stand perpendicular to either a stable wall to bounce against. Rotate your torso from the wall to shift your weight onto your back foot. Then, rotate back to the center and simultaneously throw the medicine ball laterally against the wall. Catch the medicine wall when it bounces back from the wall. Stay on the same side for one set, then switch to the other side.” Complete three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions per side with one minute of rest between.

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Windshield Wipers

wall windshield wipers
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Windshield wipers are an advanced exercise that targets the obliques and requires significant core strength.

To execute this movement, Haines-Landram tells us, “Lie on your back with arms extended to the sides. Lift your legs toward the ceiling, then lower them to one side while keeping your upper body flat on the ground. If unable to lower to the ground in a controlled motion, bend your knees 90 degrees. Return to the center and repeat on the other side.” Perform three sets of 10 reps per side. Rest for one minute between rounds.

Halos

Halos are a unique core movement that also works the shoulders and upper back.

“Stand in a neutral position with both hands holding a single dumbbell or weight plate at chest level with your arms bent, like you’re holding a steering wheel,” Haines-Landram explains. “Keeping both arms bent and your core as straight as possible, slowly circle the weight around your head and back to the starting position.” Circle the weight five to six times clockwise and five to six times counterclockwise for one set. Repeat three sets total and rest for one minute between.

RELATED: The #1 ‘Wall Pilates’ Workout to Strip Away Belly Fat

Standing Side Bends

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Standing side bends target your obliques directly while helping improve lateral stability.

“Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in one hand. Lean to the side, sliding the weight down your leg, then return to the starting position. Repeat on both sides,” says Haines-Landram. Complete three sets of 10 reps per side with one minute of rest between sets.

Side Planks

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This variation on the classic plank movement is stellar for targeting the obliques and improving overall core strength and stability.

“Lie on your side with your elbow directly beneath your shoulder and legs stacked or staggered,” says Haines-Landram. “Engage your core and lift your hips off the ground to form a straight line from your head to your heels. Hold this position while maintaining proper alignment, and make sure you continue to breathe normally.” Do four rounds of 30-second plank holds with one minute of rest between rounds.

Bird Dog

illustration of how to do the bird dog exercise
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Bird dogs are a top-notch core exercise that boosts balance and stability while engaging the side abs.

“Begin on all fours, extend your right arm and left leg simultaneously, keeping your body straight. Return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side.” Aim for three sets of 10 reps per side. Rest for one minute between sets.

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