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5 Pilates Moves to Target the Obliques

Your obliques allow your body to twist, turn, lift, pull, and stay balanced. They are a huge part of your core! Here are 5 Pilates moves that can help target these important muscles.

        1. Crisscross

For the Crisscross, lay on your back and place your hands behind your head, keeping your elbows bent wide. Legs are extended out straight at a forty-five-degree angle or tabletop position.  Keeping your head and chest lifted, and your elbows wide, slightly rotate towards your opposite knee and extend the other leg out. Exhale as you switch to the other side. If you have a weak neck, abs or back injury, you can place your feet on your mat and just perform this move with your upper body. The criss-cross challenges the abdominal muscles and works your hip flexors and stabilizer muscles around your shoulder blades. 

        2. Mermaid while threading the needle

Mermaid is another way to promote oblique connection by stretching your obliques, shoulders and inner thighs and opening your side body.  To perform this move, sit on the floor with both legs folded to the left side. Place your right hand on the floor to provide support as you sit upright. Extend your left arm above your head, keeping your shoulders down and away from your ears, and create a side bend in the body. Take your top arm and reach it underneath your bottom arm, under your rib cage, twisting your ribs, and then lift the top arm back up to the ceiling. The slight untwisting will provide a slight extension of the spine.  This exercise is a prime example of a great core exercise highlights how a range of motion can promote oblique strength and an agile spine.

        3. Side Leg Pulls

Leg pulls are another great Reformer-based move that allows you to create movement in your lower body, while also engaging your obliques in order to maintain correct and safe form. This movement has you starting laying on your side, which already provides a great challenge for your back to remain neutral.  With your top leg in the strap, you will want to keep your hips stable. Firing up your obliques allows you to keep your spine in a neutral position and prevents overcompensation while creating motion through your lower body. 

        4. Side Arm Series on the Reformer

The sidearm series is an amazing series used to target the obliques by engaging your upper body in a unilateral movement. To perform this series, you will be sitting mermaid style on the Reformer with the arm straps in either 1 hand or both hands, depending on your movement. By using one or both arms to twist, push or pull the strap, your core muscles engage to provide a proper base and prevent injury.  Most arm motions will engage your core as it allows your body to stay balanced, but the addition of a unilateral motion targets deeper oblique muscle fibers. 

        5. The teaser

One of the most renowned and dynamic Pilates exercises is the Teaser. When performed correctly, this exercise builds strength, flexibility, control, and balance. The exercise starts by laying on your back with arms extended overhead and legs fully extended. Engage your core and lift your arms and legs, drawing the body into a V seated position and then slowly rounding your back down to the starting position. The Teaser brings strength and activation of the abdominals, hip flexors and leg muscles. 

Regularly performing these Pilates moves, either on a Mat or a Reformer, can further develop oblique strength and definition.  Through the strength of your obliques, you can help prevent injury and create a flexible and healthy spine. Try some of these movements at home or in your nearest Club Pilates studio! 


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