I did 50 standing oblique crunches every day for a week — here’s what happened to my abs

a photo of a man with strong abs
(Image credit: Getty/Westend61)

A standing oblique crunch doesn’t sound like it would do much; after all, it involves standing. Shouldn’t core-based exercises be done on the floor? In a word, no! Although standing ab workouts might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of ab training (after all, we’re so familiar with the classic crunches and sit-ups which all involve lying on the floor), they come with a number of benefits. 

Firstly, because you’re standing rather than resting your body on the floor, balance plays a much bigger role. Good balance is essential for pretty much every form of movement, so it makes sense that we’d want to focus on it. Plus, I find that the core muscles are activated far more during standing ab workouts — in essence, making the exercises more effective. I also find that standing ab exercises are less stressful on the back for those who have lower back pain. If you find that you get shoulder or wrist pain from exercises such as the plank, standing ab exercises can offer a gentler alternative. 

When asked if I would do 50 standing oblique crunches every day for a week (that’s 25 on each side FYI), I was keen. Would I get the nipped-in waist I’ve always been dreaming of? Would it burn my obliques more than a classic side plank? Here’s what happened when I took on the challenge…

How to do a standing oblique crunch 

As with all ab exercises, good form is important. Here’s how to master the standing oblique crunch:

  • Stand tall with soft knees and feet hip-width apart. Place your hands behind your head, and interlock your fingers.
  • Keeping your weight in your right leg, bring your left knee up towards your left elbow, crunching at the obliques as you do so to bend at the waist, and bring your elbow down to meet your knee. It doesn’t matter if the two don’t touch.
  • Lower the left knee and then repeat.
  • After 25 reps, swap sides.

It’s important to move slowly and with control during this exercise — the movement should come from your core, not your legs and back. Think about engaging your core throughout the exercise, thinking about pulling your belly button in towards your spine. 

I did 50 standing oblique crunches every day for a week — here’s what happened

I didn’t feel the burn I was craving

Sometimes, an exercise just isn’t doing it for you. I could do 50 leg raises and my abs would be on fire, but 50 standing oblique crunches didn’t really do much for me. I felt my obliques working a little as I drove my knee up to its corresponding elbow, but other oblique exercises seem more challenging for me personally. Side planks, hip dips, side bends, and even bicycle crunches all fire up my obliques more than this standing ab exercise. 

It’s very easy to lose form

When doing a standing oblique crunch, you want to try and keep your spine and neck neutral, with your core engaged. Plus, it’s important to try and keep the chest proud, without it caving inwards.

I found as I got tired, I’d start to arch my back; I would recommend breaking your standing oblique crunches down into manageable reps if this is the case for you. 

My balance was tested

Try standing on one leg for 50 reps; safe to say, it's a huge test. I’m left-handed, so my less stable side is my right side. Taking my left leg off the ground and bringing the knee up to my left elbow left me feeling very wobbly, and I was humbled. I didn’t know how bad my balance was on one side of my body. I ended up having to grip onto the side of a wall. 

You need some added weight

I am a huge advocate of resistance training, and it’s times like this when I just think a set of the best ankle weights would be the perfect addition to really deepen the muscle activation. After all, what doesn’t challenge you, won’t change you. Adding extra resistance is a good way to make the muscles work harder, helping them to grow and get stronger. 

My waist did not change

Unsurprisingly, doing 50 standing oblique crunches every day for seven days did not leave me with that tiny little waist I have forever dreamt of. Ultimately, it would take a mixture of various different exercises, a clean, well-structured diet…oh, and probably different genetics to achieve this goal. After all, where we store fat and the shape of our bodies is very heavily based on our genes. 

If sculpting visible abs is a goal, it’s important to focus on your overall body fat percentage — here’s how to calculate your body fat percentage, and why it matters.

I did 50 standing oblique crunches every day for a week — here’s my verdict 

Are these an exercise you should include in your ab workouts? I’d say, yes, as long as you add some weight (if you’re more of an advanced gym goer), and mix it in with other ab-based exercises, to target more of the core and to work the muscles a little harder.

I love the fact that these standing oblique crunches tested my balance and alerted me to the fact that one side of my body is noticeably more wobbly than the other. 

However, there are other ways to test your balance too. In time, this exercise might have left me seeing more of a benefit; as I said, it takes more than seven days to see any visible changes, but overall, these didn’t really do it for me. Standing oblique crunches are great but I’d say they are more of a beginner move. 

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Lucy Gornall

Lucy is a freelance health and fitness journalist as well as a pre and post-natal personal trainer. Although a sweaty gym session (skipping rope is a must) is her favorite way to ‘relax’, she’s also a fan of bingeing on The Office, snacking on chocolate-coated raisins, and fizz-filled brunches with friends.