How to pump oblique muscles of the abdomen?

Jason Williams

Anatomy of the internal oblique muscles

The abdominal muscles are composed of several zones or areas. In order for the abs to be more aesthetic, the athlete needs to work out it comprehensively.

The oblique muscles help a person bend and turn the torso. The anatomical features of this muscle group allow you to maintain a beautiful posture of the back and help shape the aspen female waist.  When you have a strong core, there is less stress placed on the back during workouts.  It takes years and intense training to build up the core muscles.  So you better get started now!

Muscle structure

The oblique muscles of the abs are composed of internal and external areas. External oblique begins in the region of V-XII ribs, and are attached near the inguinal ligament, white line of the abdomen, pubic tubercle and crest.

Internal oblique originates from the inguinal ligament, iliac crest and lumbar-thoracic fascia. They are attached to the pubic crest, white line of the abdomen and cartilage of the IX-XII ribs.   We just want individuals to become familiar with your abdominal muscles.  They are never to be neglected.  Making an ab workout a regular part of your training routine is highly recommended if not required.

Read also: HIIT workout

The main functions of external oblique in the body

The oblique muscles of the abdomen allow anyone to perform a large number of movements. Their main function is to turn the chest sideways. Also, this muscle zone plays an active role in many physiological processes taking place in the body. The obliques are involved in the tension of the abdominal region.

A well-pumped muscle allows you to perform various flexions in the lower back. You can lean to the right and left, and also lift the pelvis forward. Regular training will help reduce tension on the spine and improve posture.

The benefits of training oblique muscles

Pumping the abdominals allows the athlete to increase strength in other basic exercises. Exercises on the oblique muscles of the abdomen are performed not only by bodybuilders and powerlifters. Often, athletes, snowboarders, figure skaters, gymnasts, boxers, representatives of some team sports, and, of course, crossfitters also pump this zone.

However, do not forget that excessively pumped oblique muscles visually make the waist wider. If you do not want such an effect, do not lean too much on this muscle group. 1-2 exercises per week are quite enough.

Common injuries

It is very important to perform all movements with the correct technique, as well as work at a slow pace. Before you begin, you should warm up well. Warm up not only oblique muscles, but also other parts of the body. This way you can avoid troubles and various injuries.  Breathing is huge when it comes to working the abs!  Nice steady breathing in and out will allow you to perfect each technique.  Poor breathing puts extra strain on other body parts and can result in injury!

So, what kind of injury can the incorrect exercise technique entail? Consider the most common problems, their causes and symptoms:

  • Sprains can be considered the most common trauma. Athletes receive similar damage during intense training. The structure of muscle tissue may be impaired. In the event that you feel sharp pain in the abs area, and it is unpleasant to bend the body, consult a doctor. In some cases, athletes suffer from bruising. Your body temperature may rise. The duration of the recovery process depends entirely on the severity of the injury.
  • Regular aching pain can occur if you exercise too often and too much. Between training, the athlete must rest well in order to avoid the effect of overtraining. There is no need to workout abs daily.
  • Pain in the abdomen does not always occur due to incorrect technique. You could simply be blown away. Be sure to consult a doctor if the problem could not be solved on your own by reducing the frequency, intensity of training and reducing stress. An experienced specialist will be able to make the correct diagnosis and prescribe treatment.

Exercises for obliques in the gym

Now, let’s move on from theory to practice and consider the most effective ways to pump oblique muscles of the abdomen. To do this, you must draw up a training program that will suit your individual characteristics.  Don’t wait until the end of your gym session to do abs.  Chances are you will end up skipping your crunches and wait until the next day.  This will become a habit and you’ll end up neglecting the ab muscles completely.  Why have a sexy, lean body and a gut?

The oblique muscles of the abs are a fairly large muscle zone. She gets a load not only during lateral twists. Other popular basic exercises will also have a positive effect on the development of this target muscle group.

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Obliques usually work with the rectus abdominis muscle. In this case, the best option is to do 2-3 exercises on a rectus abdominis and 1-2 on oblique ones. In the gym, athletes work with special sports equipment. Weight plates, fitball, and also dumbbells. Create a workout that you’ll enjoy but that is also challenging.

Cable crunch

This exercise is performed using a block simulator or crossover.

  1. Grasp the cable handle that must be attached to the top unit.
  2. Kneel with your back to the block.
  3. Pull in your stomach, tighten your abs.
  4. Exhale – bend your body to the side, only oblique muscles should participate in the work.
  5. In the lower phase of the movement you need to linger for a couple of seconds and maximize the tension of the abs.
  6. Inhalation – in a controlled way return to the starting position.
Lateral twists on a crossover or block simulator

Perform movement only at the expense of the muscles of the abs, do not bend thanks to the efforts of the back. Do not move back and forth. Work smoothly, without jerking. You should do 10-15 reps per set. The number of approaches depends on the goals of the training process.

Standing Cable Woodchopper (“Lumberjack”)

This movement is also performed on a block simulator or crossover. In addition to the oblique muscles of the abdomen, obliques and rectus abdominis sections are loaded. The technique is as follows:

Turns on the top block
  1. Stand firmly on your feet sideways to the block, straighten your back.
  2. Turn and grab the cable handle with both hands. Do not bend them at the elbow.
  3. Turn the case to the side and bend, while you need to hold the handle firmly and pull it to the thigh that is farthest from the block. Do not hunch your back.
  4. Return to starting position.
  5. After performing 10-15 reps, stand on the side of the simulator with the other side and repeat.

Keep your arms straight throughout the exercise; they should not be bent. Also do not move with jerky movements. Legs should be in a static position.  This is a popular exercise that you will see many do on youtube videos or at your local gym by those with a bit more workout experience.

Swiss ball side crunch

Swiss ball is a special sports equipment that has the shape of a regular ball. It is very elastic, and also large enough (diameter – about 65 centimeters). Such crunches allow you to perfectly work out the lateral muscles of the abs.  Some may also refer to this as a medicine ball that comes in various weights and can be used by beginners all the way to the most advanced or experienced people.

Fitball twists
  1. Lay your back on the Swiss ball, the gluteal area should also be located on the ball.
  2. Spread your legs on the floor, firmly rest on them.
  3. Hands close together behind the head. As an option – you can alternately reach with one hand to the opposite leg, leaving the other behind your head.
  4. Tighten the abdominal muscles and smoothly turn to the right side, and then return to the starting position.
  5. Turn to the left side. The loin should not be torn off the ball.

Very often experienced athletes are engaged with the You can use a barbell or dumbbells if you don’t have access to a Swiss/Medicine ball.  Use only one dumbbell to do this exercise if you can’t use a of weights.  The number of repetitions is similar.

Cable Wood Chop

This exercise must be performed using the bottom block:

Tilts from the bottom block
  1. 1 Stand firmly on your feet sideways to the block, straighten your back.
  2. 2 Grasp the special handle with one hand that should be attached to the lower unit. You can put the other hand behind your head or rest it on your side.
  3. 3 Tilt your body to the opposite side of the block.
  4. 4 Hold for a couple of seconds at the bottom of the movement.
  5. 5 Return to starting position.
  6. 6 After 12-15 repetitions, turn the other way, and then continue to move.

This exercise should also be done without jerking. Work must be done at a slow pace.  Only consider this exercise after you understand fully how to do each of the movements.  If you strain your abs or move too quickly, injury can occur.  Be smart!

Overhead dumbbell side bend

Effective exercises on the oblique muscles of the abs are often performed using fairly heavy dumbbells. The overhead dumbbell side bend is one of the most popular exercises. This sporting element was invented by Lithuanian strongman Alexander Zass. His stage name is Amazing Samson.  We don’t suggest starting out with a heavy dumbbell.  Get the movements right first and feel the weight as you do the exercise.  Gradually increase the weight as your ab muscles get stronger.

Bending over dumbbells

To complete the exercise, you will need a pair of dumbbells:

  1. Stand straight, straighten your back. Feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Take the dumbbells, lift them above your head in any convenient way.
  3. Slowly lower the case to the right side without bending your elbows.
  4. Return to starting position.
  5. Lean to the left and go back to the starting position.

Work very carefully. Beginners should take light dumbbells up to 15lbs. Make sure that weights do not fall down. Start by doing just 3 sets with 10-12 repetitions per set.  As you become stronger and build your core, you can do more sets and/or more reps!

The nuances of training for women

Most often, guys and girls who work out in the gym perform the same exercises on the abs. The structure of this muscle zone is identical in representatives of different sexes. Thus, any available exercises for the abdomen may be suitable for women.

However, it should be noted that there are still several features of the training process for women:

  • Perform only those movements that do not cause any discomfort, pain and other unpleasant sensations (this is also true for men).
  • Women should exercise without the help of heavy sports equipment. Strength work can lead to an increase in the waist, which is unlikely to be the effect that you sought.
  • Do not strive to complete complex tasks, focus on simple exercises that will help to work out the target muscle group in a comprehensive manner. Simple does not mean inefficient.
  • Women do not have to specifically focus on the movements that are designed to pump the lateral abs – it will be enough exercises on the rectus abdominis muscle.

Women should not neglect working on their abdominal muscles.  Each and every person (male and female) has abs but in order for them to “pop” they need to be worked on just like every other muscle group in the body.  Women love to have slim waistlines and noticeable abs just like men.  Work hard, eat clean and see results!

Gym workout program

So, just how do you build abdominal muscles in the gym? There are two main options – Do a full abs workout and make this a part of your daily routine OR choose one day dedicated to only doing abs in the gym.

An approximate workout plan for the first option may consist of the following exercises:

Exercise name Involved abdominal muscles Number of sets and reps A photo
Incline Bench Crunches Rectus abdominis 3×12-15
Leg raise Rectus abdominis 3×10-15
Crunch in the machine Rectus abdominis 3×12-15
Cable wood chop Oblique muscles 3×12-15
cable crunch Oblique muscles 3×12-15

In the second case, you can alternate exercises, for example, in the first training session:

Exercise name Involved abdominal muscles Number of sets and reps A photo
Incline bench crunch Rectus abdominis 3×12-15
Leg raise Rectus abdominis 3×10-15
Cable “Lumberjack” Oblique muscles 4×12-15

In the second:

Exercise name Involved abdominal muscles Number of sets and reps A photo
Twisting in the simulator Rectus abdominis 3×12-15
Reverse twisting on the bench Rectus abdominis 3×10-15
Swiss ball side bend Oblique muscles 3×12-15

And in the third:

Exercise name Involved abdominal muscles Number of sets and reps A photo
Elbow plank Rectus abdominis 3×60-90 sec

Hanging L-sit Rectus abdominis 3×60-90 sec

Cable crunch Oblique muscles 4×12-15

Home Workout Exercises

How to pump oblique abdominal muscles at home? Very simple! The oblique exercises we offer below can be performed almost anywhere. In order to pump the abs well, you do not always need to buy an expensive subscription to the fitness center. The main thing is to have patience and strive for the goal.  You don’t need the gym setting to work on your ab muscles.  Turn on the tv, find some music with a good beat and get down on your living room floor to workout!  What are you waiting for?

Crunch twist

This movement is performed by all athletes who seek to work out the oblique muscles of the abdomen qualitatively. Exercise allows you to well load the inner and outer oblique area of ​​the abs.

Follow these steps:

  1. Lie down on the floor. The legs must be bent at the knees.
  2. Hands should be located on the back of the head; do not move them during the exercise. Elbows need to be parted to the sides.
  3. Using the abs, tear the upper body off the surface. In this case, the lower back should be pressed throughout the entire exercise.
  4. Turn your torso to the side, as if you were reaching with your left elbow to your right foot.
  5. Return to the starting position.
  6. Crunch to the other side. You can also rest the ankle on the knee of the second leg and twist first on one side, and then change legs and perform on the other.

Work at a slow pace. Do not pull your head with your hands while driving. The number of repetitions is 12-15.  As you become more experienced you can do more repetitions and more sets but start out slow.

Twist with body rotation

Side crunch

This exercise will help to purposefully pump the internal and external oblique muscle of the abdomen. It is very important to perform all movements technically correct:

Twisting lying on its side
  1. Lie on your side. The legs can be slightly bent at the knee joint.
  2. The right hand (if you are lying on the right side) should be straightened forward and laid on the floor, keep your left behind the head.
  3. Use lateral abs to lift the body up.
  4. Fix for a couple of seconds the position of the body at the highest point of movement.
  5. Return to starting position.
  6. Perform 12-15 repetitions.
  7. Crunch to the other side.

It is very important to keep your back straight without bending it. Work smoothly without jerking.

Side bend

This exercise is often performed in the gym with dumbbells in hand. At the initial stage, it can be done without additional burden:

  1. Stand firmly on the floor. Feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Raise your hands up and hook into the lock. Or, raise one hand up, and put the other on the waist (when changing the side of the tilt, the hands also change position).
  3. Do not bend your back, tilt the body to the side.
  4. Return to the starting position, movements must be performed along the body in the same plane.
  5. Do about 15 repetitions on each side.
Side bends with dumbbells

For more experienced athletes, it is best to exercise with weights. At home, you can use a regular backpack. You need to put books in a bag, and then take it in your hand.  This is just a suggestion.  If you have weights at home you can certainly use them.  Anything that has weight (look around for household items) will be sufficient.

Side leg raise

This movement will help to develop not only the lateral abs, but also to work out the gluteal area and the outer thigh. Recommended for girls.

  1. Lie on your side. The lower arm should be straightened towards the head, and the second should be bent at the elbow joint. Place it in the chest area.
  2. Put your legs together, and then lift them as high as possible. For emphasis on the oblique muscles, you can also lift the body.
  3. Lower your legs and body down. Do it smoothly, do not relax the abdominal muscles.
  4. Perform about 10-12 repetitions, and then turn to the second side.

You can work without the help of special weighting agents.

Raises legs and body lying on its side

Knee raise

To complete the turns in the hang you will need a horizontal bar:

  1. Jump onto the crossbar. Bend your knees.
  2. Lift your knees up, while you must reject them alternately in different sides. Try to do this with your abs, not your legs.
  3. At the top of the movement fix the position of the legs for a second.
  4. Perform several reps.

A more difficult option would be to raise not the knees, but the straightened legs.

Hanging knees in the horizontal bar


This exercise is quite difficult and should be done only when you fully understand the movements. It is better to put it first in an oblique workout. The technique is as follows:

  1. Lie on your back. Straighten up.
  2. Synchronously raise both the torso and legs. Reliance is on the buttocks. You can bend your legs a little if it’s hard to keep them straight.
  3. At the top of the movement, turn the chassis to the side.
  4. Return to starting position.
  5. Do several reps.
Upper body and leg lift

Work smoothly. Most often, athletes perform 8-12 V-turns on each side. Performing the exercise, you can only work with bodyweight or use weights. It does not have to be dumbbells – you can even pick up a regular bottle of water in your hands.

Program for training at home

At home, the principles of building a program do not differ from training in the gym. Only the exercises change.

Program for training the abs once a week:

Exercise name Involved abdominal muscles Number of sets and reps A photo
Ab crunch Rectus abdominis 3×12-15
Reverse crunch Rectus abdominis 3×10-15  
Leg raise Rectus abdominis 3×10-15  
V-turns Oblique muscles 3×8-12

Side bend Oblique muscles 3×12-15

The program for three days. First workout:

Exercise name Involved abdominal muscles Number of sets and reps A photo
Sit-ups Rectus abdominis 3×10-15
Running Running Rectus abdominis 3×10-15

Side curls Oblique muscles 4×12-15


Exercise name Involved abdominal muscles Number of sets and reps A photo
Ab crunch Rectus abdominis 3×12-15
Reverse crunch Rectus abdominis 3×10-15

Side leg raise Oblique muscles 3×12-15


Exercise name Involved abdominal muscles Number of sets and reps A photo
Elbow plank Rectus abdominis 3×60-90 sec

Abs rollout Rectus abdominis 3×10-12  
Knee raise Oblique muscles 3×10-15

Useful Tips

In order to achieve the desired result, it is not enough just to work the abs. If you have excess weight, such exercises will not help you to burn fat. You need a balanced diet. Create a calorie deficit, eat more protein and less simple carbohydrates. Only with the right diet you can get a six-pack.

Exercise name Involved abdominal muscles Number of sets and reps A photo
Ab crunch Rectus abdominis 3×12-15
Reverse crunch Rectus abdominis 3×10-15

Leg raise Rectus abdominis 3×10-15

Keep in mind that you won’t see results if you don’t work your abs.  People say that abs are made in the kitchen which is true but the abdominal muscles will not pop out or ever be noticed if you neglect working on them (just as you would with any other body part).  Once a week WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH.  Do you think that Arnold or any of the other professionals that have won numerous awards and trophies only trained abs one time per week?  We highly doubt it.

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