This 2-Move Side Plank Sequence Is All About Obliques — Are You Ready For It?

We'll say it once (OK, more than once!), and we'll say it again: having a strong core is important. As Emma Lovewell, NASM-certified personal trainer and Peloton and Pilates instructor, told POPSUGAR, it helps with everyday moves like picking up groceries, aids with balance, and supports you in any type of physical activity.

Whether you're a runner, tennis or golf player, a cyclist, or any other type of active person, strengthening your core — which, she explained, is made up of the muscles in the front, back, and sides of your midsection — will progress your ability. "I think people sometimes forget the importance of having a strong core," Emma, who recently launched a four-week Crush Your Core program on Peloton's digital app, said. They think boxing, for example, is all about your arms and shoulders, but your core moves your hips faster and delivers a stronger punch.

Your obliques are along your waistline, and they're oftentimes the part of your core that people overlook. (Ab exercises like V-ups or the standard plank aren't about your obliques at all.) But, there are ways you can target these muscles, too. Emma gave POPSUGAR a simple yet effective oblique-burner sequence you can add to your ab workout or do on its own for a quick side body burn. And, get this: it's about side planks and side planks only.

Emma Lovewell's 2-Move Plank Oblique Burner

This sequence, Emma said, is somewhat inspired by Pilates and involves two moves:

Do 10 reps of side plank twists directly into 10 reps of side plank pulses on each side. You can also do 15 to 20 seconds of each exercise, if you want to do them for time instead. Looking for repetition? Once you've repeated the sequence on your left and your right, rest and complete a total of three sets. Performing the moves back to back really makes you feel the burn in your side body, Emma said. And, "when you're building muscle, you want that muscle to get fatigued, so the burn is important."

If a side plank is too difficult, you can modify it where you have your knees stacked on top of each other, and you can perform the moves that way. Ahead, check out more details for both exercises. Now, on to obliques!

Side Plank Twists
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Side Plank Twists

  • Start in a side elbow plank on your right side with your feet stacked.
  • Place your left arm behind your head, and inhale to prepare. (Or, reach your left arm up toward the sky.)
  • Exhale, engage the deep abs, and rotate your left ribcage toward the floor, bringing your left elbow to your right hand. Hold this a moment, twisting further to deepen your abdominal connection by pulling your navel in toward your spine.
  • For a more intense burn, reach your left arm under your side body, toward the ground (like this).
  • Return to the starting position. Emma says, for an extra challenge, lift your hips up about an inch, then come back to neutral.
  • Repeat for a total of 10 reps, and go directly into the next move before switching sides.
Side Plank Pulses (Hip Dips)
POPSUGAR Photography

Side Plank Pulses (Hip Dips)

  • Begin in a side elbow plank on your right side with straight legs and your feet stacked. Reach your left arm up in the air for an added challenge, or keep your hand on your hip.
  • Inhale and lower your pelvis to the floor so your right hip hovers just off the floor. Exhale and press up through your waist to lift your pelvis and return to side plank. Pull your right shoulder blade down your back to stabilize your shoulder.
  • Do 10 pulses, then complete the entire sequence again on your other side.