Classic obliques moves like bicycle crunches and mountain climbers can often feel like an afterthought at the end of a workout, but if you’re looking to mix up your go-to core exercises and incorporate them into your sweat session (rather than burning through a few reps before hitting the showers), you only need two moves to do it.
When they’re paired together, kick unders and inchworms hit you in all the right places. “The inchworm is a total-body exercise that requires you to engage your core while stabilizing your spine,” says Justin Norris, co-founder of LIT Method, an LA-based fitness studio that focuses on low-impact training. “This compound exercise works multiple muscle groups simultaneously, while elevating your heart rate.” So while it’s not hitting your obliques specifically, it is the perfect move for warming up your entire body and prepping your core for what’s to come. Plus, a higher heart rate adds to the calorie-burning potential of the entire workout.
Next up is kick unders, which hone in on your obliques for the best kind of side burn. “As you do a kick under, your core is constantly engaged, and the rotation isolates your obliques,” says Norris. “[Plus,] this exercise is great for correcting your posture and strengthening your core.”
And even though kick unders are oblique-focused, it works both your posterior chain (like your glutes and hamstrings) and your anterior chain (like your quads, deltoids, and core), so you’re putting your front and back to work in one well-balanced move, he adds.
Start by doing one minute of inchworms, then move onto one minute of kick unders, alternating sides. Do this for three sets, taking minimal rest breaks in between them. “By coupling these two movements together, you are exhausting your total body with the inchworms, and then isolating your core with the kick unders,” says Norris.
Here’s how to do ‘em.
1. Inchworms — 1 min
- Start standing with feet hip-width apart. Hinge forward at your hips and place your palms on the mat. You can bend your knees if needed to get your palms flat on the floor.
- Walk your hands forward so that you’re in high plank. Your shoulders should be stacked directly above your wrists
- Walk your hands back toward feet and stand up.
- That’s 1 rep, continue for 1 minute.
2. Kick-Unders — 1 min
- Start on all fours and tuck your toes. Lift your knees a few inches off the floor. For an extra challenge, start in high plank (like this)—just make sure you’ve mastered it first, says Norris.
- Lift your left foot off the ground. Rotate your torso to the right and kick your left foot under and to the right, pivoting on your right foot. Lift your right hand off the ground.
- Come back to starting position. That’s 1 rep. Repeat on the other side. Make sure your knees stay lifted off the ground. For an extra challenge, start in a high plank (like this)—just make sure
- Continue for 1 minute.
Repeat this circuit three times.
Creative moves like these guys may not be in your day-to-day workout, but once you try them (and feel the ~burn~), this might become the circuit you love to hate.