A 20-Minute Core Workout for Stronger Obliques

Reminder: Your core is more than just your “six-pack abs.” Your core includes everything from your deep abdominal wall and lower back to your hips, glutes, and pelvic floor. Another important, yet often underrated, part of your core? Your internal and external obliques—the muscles on the sides of your abdomen that drive core rotation.

If you’ve been following along with our Sweat With SELF videos, you know what’s coming: Core workouts are exactly what we’ve been focusing on.

This bodyweight routine, led by athletic trainer Liz Letchford, Ph.D., ATC, and coach Paul Wright, is the fifth in a six-part series dedicated to helping you build optimal core strength. Since this workout references skills practiced in the first part of this series, you may want to watch the other videos before you do this routine, particularly the previous video about core rotation

The core has two functions in rotation, as Letchford previously told SELF. One is to allow the transfer of power from the hips to the shoulders. And the second is to rotate on its own. This do-anywhere 20-minute core workout helps train both functions with moves like Russian twists, twisting mountain climbers, and crossover crunches.

Now, good core rotation isn’t just important in the gym; it can also help you safely and effectively tackle day-to-day activities, like bending and twisting to lift a heavy bag of groceries or rotating to pick up your squirming toddler.

So if you’re ready to fire up your obliques and improve your core rotation, grab a mat and follow along with this 20-minute core workout. Or, if you prefer to work at your own pace, keep scrolling for detailed workout directions and GIFs of each move.

Workout Directions

Start with the dynamic warm-up. Do each move for the designated time.

After the warm-up, rest for 30 seconds. Then do the workout. Do each exercise for the designated time, taking 10 to 15 seconds to transition between moves. Repeat the workout two more times, resting 30 seconds between each round.

Dynamic Warm-Up

  • Bow and Arrow x 60 seconds (repeat on each side)
  • Full-Body Throw x 45 seconds (repeat on each side)

Workout

  • Russian Twist x 45 seconds
  • Mountain Climber Twist x 45 seconds
  • Crossover Crunch x 45 seconds
  • Kick-Through x 60 seconds
  • Supine Twist x 60 seconds

*Rest for 30 seconds. Repeat the circuit two more times.

The Exercises

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