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As a personal trainer, I come across all kinds of people in the Portland area who struggle with posture, lower back pain and overall lack of strength. These 3 exercises that I have been using this past year to help strengthen my back and obliques can help fix all those problems. Feb of 2015 I was in a car accident. I was rear-ended sitting a red light. From that, I suffered two bulging discs that I have been dealing with ever since. It has been a long road to recovery then I would have imagined and I still have ways to go, but these exercises have really helped me! BUT, these exercises aren’t just beneficial if you are dealing with a bulging disc issue, they are beneficial for everyone looking for a healthier/stronger back. Having a strong back means having a balanced core routine. It means having equally strong abdominals, obliques, and back muscles. In this video, the main muscle group targeted are your obliques which is a muscle group of the core commonly left out of people’s routine.


1. One arm farmer carry- In this video I used kettlebells, but to do this exercise you can use dumbbells or even a plate. The weight that you use obviously depends on your level of strength but because of the area targeted, I would start off on the safe/light side and work your way up when you feel comfortable. The goal is to walk with the weight and have your posture unaffected. Your shoulders should be level. The side that you’re carrying the weight on should not droop down. Your shoulders should be back and you should keep a big chest. Lengthen your abdominals without extending at your lower back. Find a good walking pace, not too fast, and breath!

2. Side plank- Pretty basic exercise. Not too much to it. On your side, with your elbow directly under your shoulder, and that arm extending out from your body at a 90-degree angle, lift up your hips and hold. Your body should be in a straight line from the top of your head down to your feet. People often want to hinge at their hips. Keeping an open chest, your top shoulder should be lined up with your bottom shoulder. Do not turn in letting your chest face the ground. I like to raise my top arm straight to the ceiling to help me keep good form.

3. Nonrotational cable oblique hold- With a free motion cable machine where the arms of the machine can be adjusted, adjust the arm to where the cable comes out at shoulder length. With the handle lined up and pressed against the middle of your chest and the arm of the machine, take a few steps out. Extend your arms out from your body. Keep in mind the further you extend your arms out from your body the more your obliques and erectors have to work to hold the position. Much like the one-handed farmer carry’s, your shoulders should be level and back, and you should work to elongate your abdominals without extending at your lower back. Your feet should be even and lined up with the arm of the free motion cable machine.

There are other variations of these exercises that are harder. I wanted to start with the easiest progression. Next week I will make another video and add it to my blog. I’ll go over a few ways to make these exercises more difficult adding in motion.

These exercises have worked for me and the many clients I work with. To hear what they have to say check out my yelp or google reviews. If you live in the Portland area and are looking for a personal trainer or a good fitness studio to take classes check out the rest of my website!



Evan Zener

Fit-InMotion Personal Training 

Northeast Portland OR, 97212

(971) 285-0847 – [email protected]