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Ab Workouts for Women

Form and Function Oblique Workout

Trim the torso? Support the spine? Power your punch? Strong obliques do it all.

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Though resistance exercises have no ability to spot-reduce, they can definitely spot-enhance, and exercises like weighted side bends or heavy Russian twists have the potential to add size and bulk where it’s not wanted. To carve a long, lean torso with all the right cuts, aim for moves that use a large range of motion such as this one, where the external obliques are the star of the show. Using the BOSU allows you to stretch the obliques by extending over the dome and works them both concentrically and eccentrically throughout the range of motion.

BOSU-Ball Single-Legged Cross Crunch

Form: BOSU-Ball Single-Legged Cross Crunch

  • Lie faceup on the BOSU with your lower back centered on top. Place your feet on the floor hip-width apart for stability and touch your fingertips lightly behind your head with-out pulling, which can throw your spine out of alignment.
  • Extend one leg out from your hip as you hold it as close to the floor as possible to stretch the rectus abdominis and obliques, and create a longer lever to increase the challenge.
  • Extend back over the dome until you get a slight hyperextension in the trunk. This trains the obliques eccentrically and maximizes the range of motion.
  • Exhale and pull your rib cage toward your hipbones to lift your head, shoulders and upper back o the BOSU. Exhaling decreases the pressure in your abdominal cavity and may help better engage the internal obliques.
  • As you rise, draw your knee inward and rotate your torso to bring your opposite shoulder toward that knee, keeping your chest open and your elbows flared to keep the shoulders and pecs out of the picture.
  • Pause briefly in the contracted position, then lower slowly to the start. Avoid bouncing on the BOSU to create momentum; maintain control to prevent synergists like the hip flexors and chest from taking over.
  • If you feel this move in your hip flexors rather than your abs/obliques, squeeze your glutes and tuck your pelvis under to redirect the focus onto your core.

 Sample Form Oblique Workout

Exercise Sets Reps Resistance Rest
Medicine-Ball V-Up 3 10-15 6-8 pounds 3-4 minutes
BOSU-Ball Single-Legged Cross Crunch 3 12-15 bodyweight 1-2 minutes
Decline Bench Reverse Crunch 3 12-15 bodyweight 3-4 minutes
Cable High-to-Low Woodchop 3 12-15 5-15 pounds 1-2 minutes

Inside your body, the internal and external obliques form a natural corset, giving your midriff a big 360-degree hug. Although often tasked with bending and twisting, your obliques are also responsible for the prevention of movement to protect your spine. This exercise trains this anti-rotational strength in the hip complex and trunk to help you resist the forces of gravity.

BOSU Reverse Side Plank

Function: BOSU Reverse Side Plank

  • Lie on your side with your feet stacked on top of the BOSU dome and your hips and shoulders stacked vertically. Rest your head on your extended arm to keep your neck aligned with your spine.
  • Brace your abs, contract your quads and press down into your feet to lift your hips off the floor, raising them only until your body makes a straight line. Don’t push up any higher or you’ll go into flexion: The goal here is holding a neutral spine position against gravity.
  • Engage your glutes and back and actively stiffen your legs to prevent tipping forward or backward. Rolling forward shifts the focus to the glutes, hips and back, and rolling backward shifts the emphasis to the anterior core and shoulders instead of the obliques.
  • Hold and breathe for five to 10 seconds. You should be able to keep your core braced and still take in a normal breath without losing the stabilizing contraction as you hold the position. If this is too di cult, exhale as you get into the pose and take one breath halfway through. Work toward normal breathing.
  • After your five- to 10-second hold, lower slowly to the start, rest briefly without breaking form, then repeat. Aim to maintain control and alignment in each phase of the move: concentric (up), isometric (hold) and eccentric (down).

Training your abs to stabilize instead of rotate means improved synergistic power between your upper and lower halves, better performance on the playing field and stronger lifts in the gym.

 Sample Function Obliques Workout

Exercise Sets Reps Directions Resistance Rest
Ab Roller 3 10-15 bodyweight 30-60 sec
BOSU Reverse Side Plank 3 8-10 bodyweight 30-60 sec
Standard Side Plank 3 Hold 30-60 seconds bodyweight 30-60 sec
Band/Cable Pallof Press 3 12-15 10-15 pounds 10-60 sec