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6 Moves to Tone Your Abs and Obliques

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That six-pack you’ve always wanted isn’t as impossible to get as you may think. While training your abs and obliques can be difficult, it’s not impossible to achieve the toned look you desire with these six moves that target your abs and obliques. You just need to be sure to incorporate them into your workout routine consistently over time. If you do, you’ll soon be on your way to achieving the physique you want and deserve!

What are abs and obliques?

That’s a great question! The abs, or abdominals, are an integral part of your core. They help protect your lower back and support proper posture. Strong abs can also improve your balance and reduce your risk of injuries during certain exercises like running. They are made up of 4 different muscles: rectus abdominis (which runs vertically on both sides), external oblique (runs side-to-side), internal oblique (runs side-to-side) and transverse abdominis (connects all three). Exercises that focus on these muscles have been proven to be highly effective at tightening them, as well as increasing core strength overall.



The plank is an effective way to strengthen your core muscles, which are critical for supporting your spine.

To perform a proper plank, position yourself on your elbows with your feet planted firmly on the floor about hip-width apart. Keep your back straight and focus on keeping your body as still as possible (no rocking or swaying). Hold that position for 30 seconds to start; work up from there.

Once you’ve built up some endurance, hold it for longer periods of time. Try adding a variation once you’re ready: Tilt one foot forward while bending at that knee; then hold again, keeping both sides balanced. You’ll work more of one side than other as you continue shifting weight—but that’s how you build strong abdominal muscles!

Reverse crunch


A reverse crunch targets your obliques, but it also uses your lower abdominals, glutes, and hamstrings.

To do a reverse crunch, lie on your back with both legs extended, knees slightly bent. Keep your hands by your sides for support. Lift your knees and your and your torso towards each other. Slowly lower yourself back down again until you’re lying flat on your back. Repeat 10-15 times per set while maintaining good form. If you want an added challenge, try doing these on an incline so that you’re working against gravity!

Further reading: 5 exercises to strengthen your core and improve posture

Scissor kicks


Lie flat on your back with your legs extended straight up, toes pointed. Lift both arms out to each side at shoulder height, palms facing down. Keeping your legs straight, lift them about six inches off of the floor and perform a scissor like movement by alternative your legs across each other. Repeat 10- 16 times. This exercise primarily targets your abs but also engages some of your oblique muscles as well.

Crunches with leg raise


The classic crunch is a full-body, compound movement that works multiple muscle groups. As with any strength training move, it should be done slowly, with control.

To do it: Lie on your back with knees straight up at a 90-degree angle and hands in front of you. Tighten your abs as you lift your shoulder blades off of the floor to touch your feet with your hands. Then lower both your shoulders back down without touching the floor. Do 15 to 20 reps. That’s one set; do three sets total.

Further reading: 5 tips for improving cardiovascular health

Bicycle crunches


These are an excellent exercise for both your abdominal muscles and your hip flexors, and they’re simple enough that you can do them anywhere (whether you’re at home or on vacation).

Lie flat on your back with your hands behind your head, elbows out wide, knees bent. Bring one knee up toward your elbow of the opposite arm. Alternate between each leg and arm for 16-24 reps. Repeat this exercise for 3 sets.



V-ups are a great exercise for both abs and obliques.

To perform the exercise: Lie on your back with your arms alongside your body. Lift your legs and arms to touch the hands to your toes or ankles. Make sure that your legs are straight throughout the movement. Hold the position, and release back down. Repeat the movement.


Abs are a priority for many people trying to lose weight. There are, however, a few things you should know before focusing on your core. According to several experts, exercises that target your obliques are just as effective at strengthening and toning your midsection as those that hit your rectus abdominis—the well-known six-pack muscles. In fact, research suggests targeting both muscle groups may help you get rid of stubborn belly fat more quickly than ab-only workouts.

If you don’t know how to tone up and shape up, be sure to check out our ‘How to build effective workout programs’ online course that will guide you through the best exercises for each muscle groups, nutrition and rest! Get into the best shape yet!

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