Oblique crunches can be a helpful exercise to work your core. Even so, as you get stronger, you may need to do one of the weighted versions to keep seeing progress.
Something to note is that there are both standing and regular oblique crunches.
With weights, the standing oblique crunches become more of a side bend. That is fine in terms of oblique muscle gains but involves a somewhat different arm position.
This article will go over both standing and lying variations. The standing versions will generally be more effective (if you keep the rest of your body still) due to the bigger range of motion under tension for your obliques.
1. Standing oblique crunches with a dumbbell
Standing dumbbell oblique crunches are a popular choice for a variety of reasons. Before going into these, take the following steps to do the exercise:
- Hold one dumbbell in one hand. Stand up straight.
- Tilt your upper body to the side of the dumbbell as far as comfortable. Keep your hips and legs in the same position to really work your obliques.
- Tilt your upper body to the other side. You can go slightly farther than vertical to go through a bigger range of motion under tension.
- Complete your set(s) and do the same number of repetitions with the dumbbell on the other side.
The first reason why dumbbells are great for weighted oblique crunches is that all good gyms have them available.
Additionally, due to their compact weight distribution, you can tilt farther without the weight getting stuck against your leg.
Besides that, the reasonable weight jumps can be helpful for progressing in weighted oblique exercises.
Lastly, if you prefer doing the lying oblique crunch, dumbbells can be used in this movement too by holding one against your chest.
2. Cable oblique crunches
The cable machine is the metal construction with a cable going through pulleys. One side of the cable is attached to a weight stack. You can hold the other side to create resistance in movements like the oblique crunch.
You can set the pulley both low to the ground and high in standing oblique crunches. This will have similar effects but you may prefer one or the other.
An upside of using a cable machine for this movement is that you can adjust the resistance in small steps. For weaker muscles like your obliques, this is helpful for growth and strengthening.
The first downside is that not all gyms have (a lot of) cable machines. This piece of fitness equipment may be occupied every once in a while.
Additionally, not everyone has the room or budget to get a cable machine at home.
Besides these things, whether or not you want to do cable oblique crunches or use other weights depends a lot on personal preference. You may simply like or not like the cable machine for this movement.
You could also use a cable machine for lying weighted oblique crunches but holding the handle against your chest may feel a bit awkward and suboptimal.
3. Standing oblique crunch with a weight plate
Standing oblique crunches with a weight plate are similar to the dumbbell version. However, there are a few things to note.
First of all, if you don’t want to make this a forearm grip muscle exercise, you need a weight plate with handles. These are not always available.
Secondly, tilting your body farther back than vertical makes it so the weight plate bounces against and slides over your leg/hip. This is not necessarily bad but can be annoying.
Thirdly, from a certain point on, the weight jumps of weight plates become relatively big. This can be suboptimal for people who are still improving their oblique muscle strength a lot.
So standing weight plate oblique crunches can be a decent choice. However, you will likely prefer one of the other weights on this list.
You could also use a weight plate to do a more sideways-lying oblique crunch. This can work your oblique muscles a good amount too.
4. Medicine ball oblique crunch
Medicine ball oblique crunches are typically done lying down but you could also hold the medicine ball above you in the air and do the movement that way. Take the following steps to do the standing version:
- Lie down on your side, preferably on a soft surface. Hold the medicine ball against your chest or at the upper part of your side below your arm.
- Slowly raise your shoulders as far as comfortable.
- Lower your shoulders back to the ground in a controlled motion.
- Complete your set(s) and repeat the same number of repetitions on the other side.
Doing lying oblique crunches instead of standing ones can be helpful in the sense that it becomes harder to move the rest of your body to move the weight. This can make it easier to really work your oblique muscles.
Medicine balls can be especially useful for weighted lying oblique crunches because they are relatively comfortable on your body. Additionally, dropping the weight has fewer negative consequences compared to other weights.
One downside of the lying version of this medicine ball core exercise is that the range of motion for your obliques is somewhat smaller compared to standing variations. This is generally less optimal for results.
5. Kettlebell oblique crunch
Kettlebells are the metal balls with a handle in the middle. You can use one of these in both lying and standing weighted oblique crunches to see more and faster progress.
That being said, if you have other oblique exercise equipment options available, you will likely prefer these instead.
The first reason for this is that kettlebells are relatively bulky.
In lying oblique crunches this is alright but in standing oblique crunches this can be relatively annoying. The kettlebell will likely bump against your legs a lot.
Secondly, not all gyms have kettlebells and even if they do, the weights and weight jumps you want may not be available.
These downsides are not the end of the world so you can definitely do kettlebell oblique crunches if needed. However, you will likely prefer something like dumbbells which are typically available anyway.
6. Standing resistance band oblique crunch
Similar to the cable machine, resistance band oblique crunches are typically done standing. You simply anchor the resistance band below your foot and hold the other side.
Resistance bands can be helpful pieces of at-home workout equipment because they are relatively budget-friendly and compact. You can also use them for a variety of other exercises.
One downside of doing oblique exercises with resistance bands is that you are not always able to adjust the resistance precisely and in small jumps.
For growing and strengthening weaker muscles like your obliques, this can be somewhat suboptimal.
Additionally, you may not like the way bands add more resistance as you stretch them out further. This is not necessarily bad but feels different than something like a weight plate.
7. Sandbag oblique crunch
Exercise sandbags are basically sandbags with extra handles to make them more useful for your workouts. You could also use them for purposes like weighted oblique crunches.
At the same time, you want to keep in mind that this piece of fitness equipment is not perfect for this exercise either.
First of all, workout sandbags tend to be made to be able to hold a lot of weight. In turn, they are usually relatively bulky. For standing oblique crunches this can be fine but for the lying version, this may interfere with the workout.
Next, workout sandbags are typically not made to adjust the weight very precisely and in small weight jumps. They can be great for strong muscles like the glutes but for weaker oblique muscles, sandbags are often not ideal.
So people who have or want to get a workout sandbag at home for other workout purposes can also consider using it to do oblique crunches with weights.
That being said, you will likely prefer to use other equipment for this exercise.
Are weighted oblique crunches good?
Weighted oblique crunches can be good for more intermediate to advanced lifters to see more and faster oblique muscle gains and strength progress.
How do you do weighted oblique crunches?
There are a variety of ways to do weighted oblique crunches. Some of the most popular ones include the dumbbell, cable, and weight plate versions.