When it comes to creating a lean, strong torso, developing your obliques—the muscles that run along the sides of your core—is a must.
These muscles help bend your torso to the side, help rotate your torso to the left and right, and perhaps most important, actually act to resist your torso from rotating, which helps to stabilize and protect your spine.
1. Offset Dumbbell Squat
Grab a medium-weight dumbbell with one hand and hold it in the racked position, so one end rests by your shoulder with your elbow bent. Lower your hips toward until your quads are at least parallel to the floor. Pause, and then reverse the movement to the standing position.
Keep your back in the upright position. Perform all prescribed reps on one side, switch hands and repeat.
2. Single-Arm Overhead Press
Grab a dumbbell with one hand and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squeeze your glutes and brace your core—like you’re about to be punched in the gut—and press the dumbbell overhead. Pause, and then reverse the movement to return to the starting position.
Perform all prescribed reps on one side, switch hands and repeat.
3. Side Plank
Lie on one side with your legs straight and prop up your upper body on your forearm. Raise your hips so your body forms a straight line from your head to your heels.
If you want to make it harder elevate your feet or add a torso rotation.
Get into a pushup position. Shift your weight into your left arm and rotate your torso up and to the right until you’re facing sideways. Pause for 3 seconds before reversing the movement and repeating on the opposite side.
5. Bird Dog
Get into a tabletop position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Simultaneously lift your left arm and right leg. Pause for 5 to 10 seconds before lowering. Repeat on the other side.
If you want to make it harder, elevate your knees so they hover just a few inches off of the floor.
6. Bear Crunch
Get into a tabletop position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Dig your toes into the floor and slightly elevate your knees so they hover just a few inches above the ground.
Simultaneously rotate your torso to the right and drive your left knee and your right elbow toward each other so they meet in front of your chest. Pause, and then reverse the movement. Alternate sides with each rep.
7. Hanging Oblique Raise
Grasp a pullup bar with an overhand grip and hang from it at arm’s length. Lift your legs until our hips and knees are bent at 90 degrees. Raise your right hip toward your right armpit.
Pause, and then return to the starting position.
By Editors of Men’s Health