If you're looking to tone the side of your abs (also known as your obliques), try out a few yoga poses. Yoga is a type of exercise that uses your own body weight to help strengthen, tone and define muscles. Although yoga can help tone any part of your body, there are a variety of yoga poses that are great to specifically tone the side of your abs. Incorporate a few of these yoga poses, plus some other body weight exercises to help tone and strengthen your side abs.
Part One of Three:
Using Yoga Poses to Tone Side Abs
1Get into triangle pose. Extended triangle pose is something you may not realize actually works the sides of your abs. However, this yoga pose is great to tone and strengthen your obliques.
- Start this pose by standing tall with your feet about 3 feet (0.9 m) apart. Angle by our left food so it's about a 45 degree angle away from your body and your right foot should be pointing straight away from you.
- Lift your arms up so they are parallel to the floor. As you exhale, bend your torso over at your hips. Do not bend your back or sides - this part of your body should remain as straight as possible.
- Reach your right hand down towards the toes on your right foot. You can rest your right hand on the shin of your right leg or the floor if you can reach it.
- Your legs should remain straight, but do not lock your knee joints. This should have some give to it.
- Your left arm should be pointing towards the ceiling. Try to turn your head so that you're gazing up at the ceiling as well.
- Hold this position for 30-60 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
2Stick to basics with side plank pose. The plank pose is a common yoga pose to help strengthen not only your abs, but your entire core. However, change it up by doing side plank to target those side abs.
- Get down on your yoga mat or carpet to do this pose comfortably. To start get on your hands and knees and head facing the floor.
- Place your forearms on the ground in front of you. They should be about shoulder width apart.
- Step both of your feet back behind you. They should be fully extended behind you. You should be in a position similar to a push-up.
- Hold this pose here for about 30 seconds or as long as you can. Then, roll your body towards the right and balance on the outer part of your right foot and your right forearm. Hold this side plank for another 30 seconds.
- Next, work your left side, by rolling your body in the opposite direction. Balance on the outer portion of your left foot and the forearm of your left arm. Hold this for 30 seconds as well and repeat sequence as many times as you can.
3Try boat pose. Boat pose may seem easy or simple to do, but it targets a large portion of your abs - especially your obliques. Include this position in your yoga repertoire.
- To start, sit on a yoga mat or carpeted floor. Extend your legs straight out in front of you and keep your back up straight.
- Slowly recline your back so your torso is at about a 45 degree angle. You will feel your front abdominal muscles engage.
- Then, slowly pull your knees up towards your body. Lift your shins so that they become parallel to the floor. Keep your knees in a 90 degree bent position for this pose.
- Hold this pose for at least 30-60 seconds or as long as you can. Repeat as necessary.
4Get into 3 legged downward dog pose. If you've done downward dog before, you've probably felt your back and shoulder muscles being worked. However, the 3 legged downward dog is also great for those side abs.
- To start, get in the traditional downward dog position. Place your palms flat on your yoga mat and walk your feet backwards until your body forms an upside down "v". Press your pelvic bones up and back towards the ceiling.
- To transition to the 3 legged dog pose, slowly lift up your right leg upwards towards the ceiling. Your right leg should form a straight line with your back.
- Hold this position for as long as you can. Slowly lower your right leg back down and alternate to lift the left leg up and backwards. Repeat this sequence as many times as you can.
5Tone obliques with knee to arm plank. Side plank is a static pose that targets your core and obliques. However, the knee to arm plank is an active pose that is slightly more challenging to your side abs.
- To start this pose, get down on your hands and knees on a yoga mat or carpeted floor.
- Press your body up into a push-up position. Your palms should be flat on the floor about shoulder width apart. Your arms should be fully extended - not bent. Your legs should be fully extended back behind you.
- Pull your right knee up towards your armpit. You will need to engage and balance somewhat on the left side of your body. Pull your knee up as far as you can and crunch in your right obliques.
- Slowly bring your right leg back down to the starting position. Alternate by slowly bringing your left knee up towards your left armpit. Again, crunch in with your left oblique muscles.
- Continue alternating sides for as many times as you can with this exercise.
6Try warrior 3 pose. Many of yoga's balancing poses require you to engage your abs - especially your side abs. Warrior 3 pose is great for engaging your obliques.
- Start this challenging pose by standing at the back end of your yoga mat. Keep your feet about hip width apart.
- Lift your arms up over your head and keep them straight and pointing away from your body.
- Slowly bend your torso forwards at the hip. Your back should remain straight and you should be facing the floor.
- As you lower your torso down, slowly lift up your right leg back behind you. Keep your right leg straight. Lower your torso down and bring your leg up until the backside of your body makes a straight line and is parallel to the floor.
- Hold this position as long as you can. Then, lower your right leg back down and straighten your torso. Repeat on the other side.
Part Two of Three:
Toning Side Abs with Other Exercises
1Incorporate Russian twists. Yoga isn't the only type of exercise to help strengthen and tone your side abs. Weighted Russian twists are a great exercise to incorporate to help tone those obliques.
- Sit on a carpeted floor or yoga mat. Bend your legs in front of you so they're bent at a 90 degree angle and your feet are flat on the floor.
- Grab a dumbbell or plate and hold with both of your hands. Lean your torso back slightly and lift both of your feet off the ground a few inches.
- Carefully swing the plate to the right side of your body. Try to twist your abs so that you can almost tap the plate or dumbbell behind your right hip.
- Slowly bring the plate or dumbbell back across the front of your body and over to the left side. Again, try to tap it right behind your left hip. Repeat this by alternating from side to side as long as you can.
2Do bicycle crunches. Another great exercise to incorporate to your yoga routine are bicycle crunches. These are a very common exercise to do in order to tone your side abs.
- To start this exercise, lay face up on a yoga mat or a carpeted floor. Place your hands behind your neck and link your fingers together to keep your hands stable at this position.
- Your legs should be extended straight out in front of you. Bring your right knee up across your body towards your left shoulder.
- As you bring your leg up towards your shoulder, lift your left shoulder and left side of your torso up off the floor to meet your knee.
- Release and relax your body back down to the starting position. Then, repeat this movement with the other leg and shoulder. Continue these crunches for as long as you can.
3Try dumbbell side bends. To really hone in on those obliques, try incorporating dumbbell side bends. This particular exercise is great for toning and strengthening your side abs.
- Hold a moderately heavy dumbbell in your right hand. Keep your arm straight down by your side. Keep your feet flat on the floor and your feet should be about hip width apart.
- While keeping your back straight, slowly bend just your torso over the right. It's almost like tilting your torso and shoulders over.
- Hold here for a second and then pull your body up so your back is straight again. Repeat 8-10 times and then switch the dumbbell over to your left hand and do the exercise 8-10 times.
4Incorporate side jack knifes. Similar to the dumbbell side bends, another exercise that will target your side abs is the side jack knife. These can be difficult, but a great move to incorporate.
- Lie down on your yoga mat or a carpeted floor for this exercise. Start by lying down on your right side with your legs stacked on top of each other.
- Rest your left hand behind your head. Your right arm should be on the floor helping to support your body.
- Keeping a slight bend in your left leg, bring your leg up towards the ceiling. At the same time, lift your torso up towards to the ceiling almost as if you were meeting your leg.
- You should be crunching your body on that left side. Do 8-10 reps and then roll over to repeat this exercise on the other side. Repeat for another 8-10 reps.
Part Three of Three:
Defining Your Side Abs
1Include some cardio. If you're interested in toning your side obliques, you may also be interested in making sure those toned obliques are defined as well. Add in some cardio to help define your obliques.
- Only doing strengthening and toning exercises will help improve strength of your obliques, but not necessarily help with any definition. You need to add cardio in addition to ab work to help define muscles.
- Include at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity cardio exercises each week. You need to do at least 10 minutes of cardio at a time.
- Exercises you can do include: walking, jogging, using the elliptical, taking a spin class, hiking or dancing.
2Consider losing a little weight. In addition to cardio, you may also want to consider losing some excess weight. Cardio can help with this task, to help expose those toned side abs.
- You can do all the strengthening exercises you want. But if you're carrying a little excess weight around your mid section, you won't be able to physically see those toned side abs.
- If you have a little extra weight around your midsection, consider modifying your diet and increasing your cardiovascular exercise to help lose weight.
- You can safely cut out about 500 calories daily plus incorporate cardio exercise to lose about 1-2 pounds per week.
3Change up your ab routine. Yoga is a great alternative to crunches or weighted ab exercises. Keep changing up your fitness routine and the difficulty to continuously challenge your muscles.
- All muscles, including your obliques, will eventually get strong enough to easily do your current exercise routine. To help continuously improve your strength and definition of your abs, add in different exercises.
- You need to do something different throughout the week. Do not do the same ab routine everyday or week.
- Also, after a few weeks increase the resistance of your exercises or try more difficult variations to your yoga exercises. This will keep your abs working and becoming stronger over time.
4Give your abs a break. Many people think that abs are a muscle group that you can work on a more regular or even daily basis. However, you need to give your abs a break to see results.
- Abs, including your obliques, need adequate rest after being worked. If you typically do a short ab workout after your morning run or after you've worked your upper or lower body, you're not giving your abs time to recover. This won't give you the results you want over time.
- As with all muscles, rest your abs for a day after every workout. For example, if you work your abs on Monday, skip an ab workout on Tuesday.