Dumbbell Side Bends
Tone Your Obliques

Use dumbbell side bends to strengthen the abdominal muscles of your sides, the obliques. Find out how to use the best technique and avoid injury with these videos and instructions.


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This exercise has been given a bad reputation, through no fault of its own. When done incorrectly (like any exercise), you won't get results and you'll risk injury.

But that's not the biggest problem here. Just because it's been labelled as an abdominal exercise and it works the side muscles (i.e. the ones under your love handles), people expect it to work wonders.

The reality is that our bodies burn fat as a whole. There's no direct link between doing side bends and reducing love handles.

The best way to get rid of fat around your stomach and sides, is to do a combination of a full strength training program and fat burning exercises. So if you came here looking for love handle relief, get to those pages now.

What are dumbbell side bends good for?

When done with good technique, they will strengthen your obliques. The functional aspect of this is important, because everyday activities often involve side bending and twisting.

The main thing to remember when doing this exercise, is that it's more about improving muscle tone, rather than building bulk. That means using moderate to light weights.

The quality of your movement is so much more important than the quantity of the weights. You'll build strength quicker and avoid injury with slow, controlled movements.

Exercise Pictures

Dumbbell Side Bends

Here is the side bend with dumbbells. Not sure about your reps and sets? Click here.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and knees very slightly bent (you should never stand with your knees locked).
  • Hold the dumbbell in your right hand, palm facing in. Keep your right arm straight throughout, rest your left hand on your waist.
  • Slowly bend to the right from your waist, then back up.
  • Slowly bend to the left from your waist, then back up.
  • Complete your reps then repeat with the dumbbell in your left hand.


  1. Make sure you only move your waist and that it's sideways. Don't swing your hips; don't move your knees; don't lean forward or back.
  2. Keep the movement slow - it's hard to keep good form by bending side to side quickly.
  3. Keep your shoulders down and back! Let your abs do the work, not your shoulders.
  4. Make sure your back is neutral throughout (not overly arched or slouched).
  5. Remember to breathe steadily.

If this exercise causes you pain, discontinue it. Click here for alternative ab exercises.

Side Bend Videos

Enjoy these dumbbell side bends! Check out these great videos for a visual idea of the best technique:

Click here for 5 tips to lose that stubborn belly fat.

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