If You Want Stronger Obliques and 6-Pack Muscles, Try the Side-Lying Crunch

POPSUGAR Photography / Tamara Pridgett

I was doing an at-home workout the other night and didn’t like one of the ab exercises the trainer had listed for the oblique muscles, so I decided to swap it out with a side-lying crunch. It’s been years since I’d done this exercise, but I was quickly reminded of how challenging (in a good way!) it is. I’m typically not a fan of crunches as they put a lot of stress on the spine, especially when done without control, but this variation is fine in my book since it’s more of a micromovement and you don’t lift your body all the way up off the ground.

I also like this exercise because it primarily targets the obliques, your abdominal muscles on the sides of your trunk responsible for side flexion and trunk rotation, and your rectus abdominis muscles, aka the six-pack muscles, which help you flex your lumbar spine (the lower spine) and are used every time you have a bowel moment and laugh. If I’ve convinced you that this move should be added to your repertoire of ab exercises, continue reading for a step-by-step breakdown of how to do it.

Related: Jump and Twist Your Way to Stronger Abs With This Trainer’s Dynamic Core Exercises

How to Do a Side-Lying Crunch

  • Start lying on a mat in a supine position (facing upward) with your knees bent and your feet flat on the mat. Your heels should be about a foot away from your glute muscles.
  • From this position, lower both legs to the right side of your body. Your right leg should be touching the ground, and your left leg should be stacked on top of the right. Your upper back and shoulders should be flat on the mat.
  • With your hands behind your head or crossed in front of your chest, engage your core (gently brace your abdominal muscles) and slowly lift your shoulders and back off the ground, performing a crunch.
  • With control, lower your body back down to the starting position. This counts as one rep.
  • Complete 10 reps targeting your left oblique muscles (with your knees bent to the right) and 10 reps targeting your right oblique muscles (with your knees bent to the left). This counts as one set. Repeat for a total of three sets.
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