Your six-pack, or your front abdominal wall, is just one aspect of toned abs. Are you familiar with your internal and external obliques? Your internal and external obliques run (for lack of a better word) obliquely to your front abdominal wall. They have various roles:

  • Supporting your abdominal wall and lower back
  • Assisting your lungs in exhaling forcefully
  • Help in rotating and bending your trunk sideways
  • Providing support in performing heavy squats and deadlifts
  • Help in stabilizing your hips
  • Helping improve your balance and posture

Try these four movement patterns that add strength and flexibility to your internal and external oblique muscles to enhance your movement capabilities.

Prone Alternating Thread the Needle

  • Begin in a high, prone plank position with your shoulders stacked over your elbows and wrists. Your body should form a strong, straight line from head to heels.
  • Engage your core and reach your right hand under and across your torso to your left.
  • Bring your right hand back across your torso and extend your arm out to the right, rotating your torso to extend your hand to the ceiling.
  • Rotate back to your starting position. Place your right hand on the floor and repeat the movement with your left hand. Continue alternating for 10 reps per side.
  • Tip: Keep your hips squared to the floor throughout the movement.


  • Lie on your right side, using your right arm to support your head and neck.
  • Place a block between your ankles or lower shinbones.
  • Keep your knees slightly bent, or extend your legs straight for more of a challenge.
  • Contract your obliques and lift both legs off the floor as high as possible. Repeat and then switch sides.

Step-Back With Lateral Overhead Reach

  • Stand tall, engage your core and take a deep step back with your right foot.
  • Extend your right arm up and reach overhead to your left.
  • Lower your arm and step your right foot forward to return to the starting position, and repeat on your left side. Hold for at least 10 seconds per side.


Figure-4 Hip Stretch With Twist

  • Lie on your back in a supine position with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Take your arms out to form a T with your upper body.
  • Place your left ankle over your right knee.
  • Drop your right knee down to your right, twisting through your hips. Keep your shoulders flat on the floor.
  • Hold and then release and repeat on the opposite side.

Photo credit: FatCamera, Getty Images
GIFs: Tom Casey,

Model: Erica Johnson, 24 Hour Fitness