Many of us are guilty of neglecting an oblique oblique workout for the most part. But, any sport that we participate in like tennis or golf that involve twisting and good balance control -- these types of sports depend on a strong set of oblique core muscles to provide strong support and stability.
Although it will take some work, the effort of working your oblique muscles is well worth it because you will not only look great, but you will also notice improved posture, reduced lower back pain, and less risk of injury.
Remember, your core muscles are the center of almost every move you make, so the benefits of taking care of them go far beyond mere appearance.
The side plank is one of the most effective core exercises and should be included in your oblique workout.
Start out by lying on one side of your body with your feet positioned on top of each other (as pictured) with your forearm and elbow providing support.
Bring your elbow off the ground with your hand supporting all of your body weight.
Make sure that your body is in a straight line and try and hold this position for 30-60 seconds and then switch sides.
Kyle Demonstrating the Side Plank
Always try to engage (tighten) your ab muscles when doing the side plank.
The side plank is an excellent exercise for you to gauge your core strength. If you can't hold the position for 30 seconds you may need to work more on your core muscles.
The Russian twist is used to target the oblique and back muscles by performing a twist from side to side of the abdomens. This exercise strengthen the supporting muscles of the lower back and spine.
Begin in a seated position with your feet flat and your knees bent. Lean back until you are lower torso is about 45 degrees from the ground, you will need to engage your abs and become balanced on your tailbone.
Extend your arms forward and use them to help maintain balance and twist to the right, reaching down to your side (as pictured) and keeping your back straight.
Twist from the right over to the left, reaching down to your side again. You want to hold each twist for a count before you switch.
Try to do 3 sets of 15-20 reps
Kyle Demonstrating the Russian Twist
By adding dumbbells you will greatly increase the intensity of the Russian Twist.
You can also increase the challenge by lifting both of your feet 3-4 inches off the floor.
The farther back you lean, the more you will work your abs.
Medicine Ball Hip Crossover
A medicine ball is a great tool for working your oblique muscles. Because they involve so many twisting and bending movements, the medicine ball can help you reach small supporting core muscles that can be difficult to reach with many traditional exercises.
Lie on your back with your hands intertwined behind your head, and exercise ball between your legs (as pictured).
Have your legs raised up in the air so that your lower legs and thighs form a 90 degree angle at your knee.
Begin the exercise by turning your legs to the right side, making sure to keep your hips flat on the floor. After a brief pause, reverse the movement back to the left side.
Kyle Demonstrating the Medicine Ball Hip Crossover
Oblique Workout Tips
If you are just starting with oblique exercises, limit yourself to just doing a few reps at first to build up some muscle strength. Also be sure to use proper form to minimize over-working your back and causing lower back pain.
Try not to exercise the same muscles two days in a row. You have to give the muscles enough recovery time for healing from the work they are doing.
Make sure you let your ab muscles move your body. Don't use your arms and head to "rock" yourself up and down when you are doing exercises like crunches.
Benefits of an Oblique Workout
Tighter Waistline: Oblique exercises can tone and strengthen your entire midsection. The stronger the abs, the easier many physical activities can be.
Simple and Convenient: Most of the exercises in a oblique workout can be done anywhere and at any time without fitness equipment. They can also be done quickly, and the results can be fantastic.
Balance and Stability: As you strengthen your obliques and other ab muscles, your upper and lower body muscles will work together in better harmony sharing the workload. Especially of the spine and lower back.
I will continue to share ideas about diet and exercise that have helped me along the way. If you have any questions I can help you with, or if you have any ideas you want to share, feel free to contact me or visit our Q&A forum.