The obliques -- the muscles on the sides of the abdomen -- consist of the external oblique and internal oblique. The main functions of these muscles include protecting organs, rotating your spine and flexing your spine side-to-side. According to the American Council on Exercise, strengthening your abdominal muscles will help protect your spine. You can perform the following exercises at home to strengthen your obliques.
Side planks help build endurance and also strengthen the obliques. Lie on your right side with your elbow touching the ground underneath your shoulder, your forearm lying flat on the floor. Extend your legs with one foot stacked on top of the other. Press into the ground with your right elbow and foot, lifting your legs and torso. Tighten your abdominal and buttocks to help keep your legs and spine in line horizontally. Hold for up to 20 seconds and repeat on the left side.
Lie on the floor with your low black pressed into the floor, and place your hands behind your head for support. Engage your abdominal muscles to lift your shoulder blades about 1 to 2 inches off the floor, while simultaneously bringing your knees toward your chest at a 90-degree angle. Straighten your right leg out while gently rotating your upper body to the left, taking your right elbow toward your left knee. To switch sides, bring your left elbow toward your right knee while straightening your left leg. Continue this pedaling motion for 12 to 16 repetitions. Rest, and then perform up to two more sets.
During this exercise, allow your obliques to control the speed of the movement. Lie on your back with your knees bent to form a 90-degree angle with your thighs and torso. Gently drop your knees to the right and lift them back up to the center and drop them down to the left. Continue the motion for as many repetitions as you can comfortably perform while keeping your shoulders on the ground.
Side Dumbbell Crunches
Holding dumbbells at your sides with your palms facing your body, stand upright and lean to the right. Your right hand will lower halfway down the side of your thigh. Stand up straight and continue dipping down to the right side until muscle fatigue. Repeat on the left side.