Whenever people think of training their midsection, they think of their abs. Crunches, sit-ups, leg raises and other rectus abdominus exercises get thrown into the routine to develop that much desired six pack everyone wants to have. Muscles that don’t get as much attention in your core are the obliques. These are the muscles that are found on the side of your abdominals. They act as stabilizers and are engaged in just about every kind if compound movement in almost all physical activity. The obliques are functioning in trunk rotation, flexing the spinal column, compressing the abdomen and side bending. The strength of these side muscles are very important. What’s more, well-developed obliques act like a girdle, pulling your abs inward creating that flat, streamlined profile we are all trying to get.
Obliques exercise, therefore, should be a priority for everybody. External obliques exercise as well as internal obliques exercise usually happen simultaneously and do not require any specific isolation. Exercise for obliques for women as well as men are also normally not gender specific so most exercises may apply to both sexes. Here are some of the best exercise for obliques to get rid of those love handles in exchange for ripped sides.
1. Oblique V-up
Menshealth.com shows you how to do this basic exercise that is applicable to both men and women. Try to concentrate to get the most squeeze into the movement which is very short.
“Lie on your side with your body in a straight line. Fold your arms across your chest. Keeping your legs together, lift them off the floor as you raise your top elbow toward your hip. The range of motion is short, but you should feel an intense contraction in your obliques.”
2. Windshield Wipers
This is a relatively difficult move, and may require some practice at first especially for beginners. To reduce the difficulty of the movement, you may bend the legs at the knees in a 90 degree angle. Fitnessblender.com offers an explanation of the movement.
“Lie on your back on a mat and place your arms palm down straight out from shoulder to shoulder.
Bring your thighs perpendicular to the ground and bend your knees to a 90° angle.
Rotate your hips and thighs to the left as far as you can control, keeping your shoulders on the mat at all times.
Slowly bring hips and thighs back to center and rotate to the right as far as you can control. Back and forth is one repetition.
Level 1 Windshield Wipers are a great oblique exercise for beginners. They can be made as easy or as hard as you want by controlling how far you rotate from side to side. This move is excellent for home workouts and helps to build strength in your obliques and also improves the range of motion around your torso, something that tends to diminish after years of a sedentary lifestyle.”
3. Cable Woodchoppers
Woodchoppers can be done with dumbbells in case you don’t have access to a cable machine. Cables however offer a consistent resistance all throughout the movement, and are therefore highly recommended. Leanitup.com shows us how to execute this intense oblique exercise.
“Set up a cable pulley slightly lower than chest height. Grab the pulley handle far enough away that you can feel a nice stretch in your obliques and lats. Fully extend your arms and powerfully swing your arms across your body. Hold for 1 second at the end of the movement and slowly return to starting position.
Easy – 12 per side, 10 pounds
Medium – 12 per side, 30 pounds
Hard – 15 per side, 50 pounds
Pro – 15 per side, 70 pounds”
4. Saxon Side Bend
The saxon side bend is really no more than a regular side bend, except that you hold a pair of dumbbells overhead. Menshealth.com shows us this very simple, but effective move. Vary the difficulty of this routine with the weight of your dumbbells.
“Hold a pair of lightweight dumbbells over your head, in line with your shoulders, with your elbows slightly bent. Keep your back straight, and slowly bend directly to your left side as far as possible without twisting your upper body. Pause, return to an upright position, then bend to your right side as far as possible.
6–10 repetitions on each side [ Beginner to intermediate ]”
5. Hanging Leg Raise to the Side
This exercise is important since it involves exertion from your lower body. You will need to get on a vertical bench or use a crossbar to perform this exercise, but it is highly rated for isolating the obliques. Elements4health.com provides us with an instructional for doing this exercise.
“Hang from a pull-up bar with your legs and feet together. Slowly lift your knees to one side as high as you can. Do this by curling your spine from the bottom up, not simply lifting your knees.
Squeeze your lower abs and obliques at the to of the movement, then slowly lower. Repeat and alternate sides. Do not SWING your legs up.”
6. Pilates Side Hip Raise
For this exercise we will include a link to a video so you see the exact way to execute this Pilates movement. This is a great core workout and is also a good stretching movement for your sides from fitnessblender.com.
“Start by lying propped up on your left side with your left elbow directly under your shoulder. Bend your left knee to a 90°; you should have a straight line form knee to shoulder. Extend your right leg completely to form a straight line from shoulder to ankle.
Inhale and contract your core muscles, putting all of your weight on your left knee and elbow.
Slowly exhale as you push into your elbow and knee to lift your hip up as high as you can, at the same time lifting your right arm in an arching motion from your abdomen to over your head. Then inhale as you slowly let your arm and hip drop down within an inch of the ground.
Perform the motion for a set number of repetitions then switch sides and repeat on the opposite side.
The Side Hip Raise is, like most Pilates exercises, a great core workout. It targets all of the muscles around your midsection and helps to tone, strengthen, and slim your waist. This move specifically targets the obliques and outer thighs, providing an easy and effective way to tone thighs and abs simultaneously. This is a great addition to any core routine or home workout program.”
The quest for ripped abs requires a lot of dedication and work, however, you will be thoroughly satisfied if you stay the course. An obliques exercise is one part of that routine where you should step-up the intensity. Not only will you look good, but you will also develop functional strength that is useful for doing practical daily activities.