Do you do the standing side crunch or dumbbell side bend? Why? Do you like staring at yourself in the mirror while lifting a 45lb pound plate? I know I was guilty in my college days (insert emoji). But now I am smarter, and SO ARE YOU. Here’s three reasons why you SHOULDN'T do them and also alternatives to better target the core and obliques.
I hate to use this argument because it so overplayed…but it is functional? Chances are you rarely need to side crunch any significant weight in day to day activities OR in sport activities. Chances are things like UNILATERAL FARMERS CARRIES are much more functional, as they mimic the things we have to do in day to day life like carrying the groceries or a suitcase to/from the car.
The core is meant to be the STABLE BASE of the transfer for energy from one end of the kinetic chain to the other. That being said, we typically require the core to be stable while our extremities move. So try exercises like the Pavlov press, side plank roll, or side plank knee to elbow crunch.
There are just TOO MANY WAYS to do this wrong. Many people use pure MOMENTUM to move the weight, instead of properly bracing and using the core musculature to move. If your intent is to move the spine through load, try different variations like high-to-low or low-to-high chops.