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Do oblique crunches to sculpt rock-hard six pack abs

Oblique crunches are one of the very best bodyweight exercises to work your side abs and sculpt a six-pack. You don’t need any kit so can do them any time and anywhere. But you need to do them right to get the results you want. Here’s your complete guide to oblique crunches, plus the other best side abs exercises to get the lean, toned and defined abs you want, says New Body Plan creator and Men’s Fitness cover model Jon Lipsey

Do you want hard and defined abs? I thought so. And you’ve come to the right place!

The key to sculpting well-defined abs is to do a wide variety of different abs exercises. You’ll need some that target your upper abs, some for your lower abs – such as the reverse crunch – and some that challenge your side abs. Oblique crunches tick the side abs box. They’re easy to do because they are beginner friendly and they don’t require any equipment.

But does that mean they are the best way to hit that body part in your quest to build a six-pack? This quick guide will tell you everything you need to know.

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What are oblique crunches?

Oblique crunches are a bodyweight abs exercise. They’re similar to a conventional crunch but they involve a twisting movement.

What muscles do oblique crunches work?

Oblique crunches are an isolation move, so they only work one muscle group. They predominantly target your side abs, which are also known as your obliques. But you will also get muscle activation across the rest of the abdominals.

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How to do oblique crunches

• Lie on your back with your knees bent.
• Bend your arms to place your fingertips to your temples.
• Using your abs muscles, crunch up to begin to lift your shoulders off the floor. As you do so, twist to one side to bring one elbow towards the opposite knee. They won’t actually touch but that’s the direction you’re moving in.
• Lower slowly to the start and repeat.

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What’s are the most common oblique crunches mistakes?

It’s easy to almost entirely miss out on abs muscle activation. You do that if you yank your neck off the floor. So try to keep a light contact with your fingertips on your temples. And try to relax your neck as much as possible.

What can I do to get more out of oblique crunches?

This tip goes for most crunch variations. Before each rep in your set of oblique crunches, exhale sharply and purposefully to initiate an abs contraction. Go straight into the rep and your abdominal muscles will have been primed to fire.

Are oblique crunches the best way of working my side abs?

They are a perfectly good exercise. The fact that you don’t need any equipment is a big plus point. And they are effective when done well. But they are not the only option. We’ve created a list below of great alternatives to oblique crunches that you can weave into your training sessions.

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The best oblique crunches alternative exercises

Dumbbell side bend

Equipment needed: Dumbbell
Why do it: This is a great alternative to oblique crunches because it is easy to execute.
How to do it: Hold a dumbbell in one hand by your side. Place the fingers on your free hand to your temples. Bend to the side holding the dumbbell. But make sure you move in a controlled way. Don’t let the dumbbell pull you further than you can control. Once you have reached your end range, return to the start. Complete all of your reps on one side then repeat on the other.

Hanging knee raise twist

Equipment needed: Pull-up bar
Why do it: The benefit you get with this hanging knee raise variation that you don’t get with oblique crunches is that it develops your grip strength.
How to do it: Hang from a bar with your arms straight. Bend your knees and raise your thighs. As you do so, twist to one side to contract your obliques. Slowly return to the start and repeat, this time twisting to the other side.

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Equipment needed: Bodyweight
Why do it: When you do oblique crunches your abs may not get much time under tension in the set. Your abs are under constant tension with this move and that’s what makes it so effective.
How to do it: Start with your knees bent, your feet on the floor and your fingers to your temples. Bring one elbow and the opposite knee in to meet each other while straightening your other leg. Then bring the knee on your straight leg in to your opposite elbow. Repeat that alternating movement for the duration of the set.

Alternating heel touch

Equipment needed: Bodyweight
Why do it: This alternative to oblique crunches looks really easy but it is deceptively tough. It’s simple but effective.
How to do it: Lie on the floor on your back with your knees bent and your arms by your sides. Slightly raise your head and shoulders off the floor. Reach to touch your heel with your fingertips. Then reach to touch your other heel with your opposite hand. Alternate sides for the rest of the set.

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Crossover mountain climber

Equipment needed: Bodyweight
Why do it: This move is more dynamic than oblique crunches. You therefore get a cardio effect as well as training your abs.
How to do it: Start in the top of a press-up position. Bring one knee in and across to get as close to your opposite elbow as possible. Return to the start and, as you do so, bring your other knee up to your other elbow. Repeat that movement for the length of the set.

Unilateral farmer’s walk

Equipment needed: Dumbbell or kettlebell
Why do it: This is a hugely underrated move. Unlike oblique crunches, it has significant a real-world carryover. So it will help you to both perform well and look good.
How to do it: Stand upright holding a single dumbbell or kettlebell in one hand. Brace your core and walk forwards. Go at a slow and controlled pace. Walk for a set time or distance then repeat on the other side.

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