Standing Bodyweight Side Bends

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Standing bodyweight side bends ab exercise

Standing Side Bends (also known as standing oblique bends) is a popular old-school oblique exercise broadly discussed. While some people recommend this exercise for trimming and toning “love handles”, some say it’s a complete waste of time. In my personal opinion the truth lies somewhere in between. And here is why.

First, lateral flexion is achieved mainly with the deep muscles of the spine and not with the internal obliques or the external obliques. Therefore standing side bends surely are not the most effective exercise for the obliques. But that doesn’t mean they are worthless.

This exercise still can improve your core strength and increase lateral range of motion in the spine. And if the exercise is performed in a right manner, obliques engage noticeably.

Second, standing side bends won’t help to get rid of the “love handles”. That’s true. Actually none of the exercises will because exercises don’t reduce the fat that resides above the muscles. So for this noble purpose this exercise truly is useless. If you’re trying to improve your waistline, side bends (reffering to weighed side bends) may actually broaden your stomach. Simply because weight training stimulates growth of the muscle underneath the “muffin top”.

Fortunately that does not apply to standing bodyweight side bends though. Standing bodyweight side bends also are more functional and neck-friendly alternative to a lying bodyweight side bend exercise. Thanks to the upright position.

To sum it all up standing bodyweight side bends are OK if used for the right purposes. It will help to improve the performance of dancers, golfers and other athletes requiring spinal mobility. This exercise is suitable for everyone regardless of the level of fitness.



  • No equipment needed. You can do it anytime, anywhere.
  • More functional than lying side bends. Plus there is no discomfort for the neck.
  • Developes mind-muscle connection.
  • Improves core strength and spinal mobility.
  • Great for those who are not able to get down to and up from the floor easily.


Standing Bodyweight Side Bends Step 1

Stand straight with your feet together or shoulder-width apart. Keep your shoulders back and chest up. Hold hands by your side. Contract your abdominals by pulling your navel to the spine. Inhale.

Standing Bodyweight Side Bends Step 2

To begin the exercise bend at your waist and reach down with your right hand as far as you can without swaying your hips. Squeeze your abs and exhale. Keep your hands close to your body.

To engage more of your abs lean sideways while crunching SLIGHTY forward instead of crunching simply to the side. Pause for a second and slowly return to the starting position.

Standing Bodyweight Side Bends Step 3

Without stopping in the top position continue the movement to the other side. Keep alternating sides until you reach the desired number of repetitions or time limit.


  • Better alternatives for strengthening and toning side abs are Static side plank, Pallof press or Farmers walk.
  • To increase the intensity take a dumbbell/plate/kettlebell/cable or any other weight in ONE of your arms. Do all the reps on one side, then switch. Increase the resistance gradually.
  • Perform weighed side bends, such as dumbbell side bends CAUTIOUSLY. Lateral spinal flexion puts your spine in a vulnerable position, especially when holding a heavy weight.
  • If back pain occurs during the exercise, check your form. If the form isn’t the issue, terminate the exercise and consult your physician.
About Matiss Bartulis

Sweets and pizza addict. Online and real-life fitness coach. Author of the "From Fat To Six Pack" E-mail training course. You can find him on Google+ and Facebook.