Hit your midsection from all angles to give your abs the finishing touch.
Justin Grinnell, C.S.C.S., for Muscle & Fitness 1 / 6
If you really want to see your obliques pop, you need to do your work in the kitchen and the gym. The first way to show off your obliques is to maintain a relatively low body fat, and we all know that a low bodyfat comes from a proper diet and a complete exercise program.
But even if you're still chiseling down your body fat percentage, you still need to train your obliques before you'll see them. You need to train them both for show and sheer functional ability: The external and internal oblique muscles are responsible for rotating and bending your trunk. These muscles also contribute to spinal stability—and that means training them with rotational stresses.
Fortunately, there are a select few exercises that do wonders for both the strength and appearance of the obliques. Let’s take a look at some oblique exercises that get the job done best.
Sure, the ordinary side plank is great for engaging lateral core stabilizers. But if you really want to reduce muscular imbalances and ramp up the anti-rotary tension, try a side plank row. Simply set up in a side plank position a few feet away from a cable apparatus, or a place where you can attach a band. Maintain a neutral spine (a perfect side plank position), and then perform a rowing/pulling motion.
Grab a dumbbell or a kettlebell that would be demanding to carry in only one hand for about forty yards. Make sure to maintain superb posture at all times as you walk that distance. Switch hands and repeat. (Barbells can also work, but make sure you use collars, and be aware that the more distributed weight will make balancing the weight more difficult.)
The suitcase carry works well beause your core on your unweighted side must trying to dynamically stabilize the spine while you hold the weight and move with it. Those deep core muscles have to stabilize and work to help support your body just like a plank. The suitcase carry is by far the most functional type of plank to improve dynamic stabilization. Give it a shot and you'll see the benefits in no time. Don’t be surprised if you wake up the next day with some sore obliques.
This exercise has become popular among many trainers, who appreciate its benefit as an anti-rotation exercise. You can perform this exercise on one knee, both knees, or standing. Some key things to keep in mind: Maintain a neutral posture, sustain your core tension, and hold the pressout. Take your time, and feel the contraction on each rep during both the eccentric and concentric phrase of the exercise.
This exercise is a total core-builder, and it's especially good for zeroing in on your obliques group. The key with this exercise is NOT to move the hips as you draw a half moon shape with the bar. Brace your whole body and do not move anything besides your arms as you perform the movement.
(If you don't have a landmine apparatus with a handle, you can simply place a barbell in a corner of the room.)
Rollout variations are primarily anti-extension movements that hit the anterior core (abdominal wall) pretty hard. If you want to pay particular attention to the obliques, perform the movement by going side to side. I recommend starting out with a rounded back. As you roll out, avoid arching your back too much, or you'll feel it more in the lower back muscles than you will in your obliques.