One of the most difficult muscles to hit are the obliques. Also known as pesky love handles or a stubborn muffin top, the obliques have earned themselves a bad rep. When you think of training your abs, most people tend to focus on the front of their abdominals where that ideal 6 packs forms. However, your abdominals are comprised of multiple muscle groups extending the length of your torso. Your obliques run from the bottom of the rib cage to the top of the hips and control twisting motions. Most importantly, your obliques protect the lower back from strain.
Fear not, for I come with good news. Any exercise that requires the coordinated use of your abdominals and back constitutes a core workout. This being said, even just focusing on keeping your core tight throughout the day can make a huge difference. More good news, I have narrowed down the most efficient exercises to target the obliques, getting you slim and trim.
Importance of a Strong Core
A strong core offers a bounty of real-world benefits beyond having a flat stomach. According to Harvard Health, a strong core is crucial for performing everyday mundane tasks as well and can help restore balance and grace to your life.
Most notably, a strong core stabilizes your entire body. Making movement in any direction simple helps prevent injuries and decreases the risks of falling. Additionally, the majority of technical sports and sexual activities are powered by a strong core, enhancing your performance while simultaneously building confidence. Finally, a strong core is linked to improved posture, which, has been proven to decrease lower back pain and a slimmer silhouette.
Planks may be the perfect abdominal exercise. They offer a great stabilizing exercise without compromising other muscles. Many abdominal workouts can lead to tension in your neck and hips, however, a side plank lengthens and strengthens your obliques with no downside.
You can increase the intensity by raising the top leg for a single leg side plank or add hip dips for a contraction motion. An easier modification can be achieved by resting the bottom leg and only extending to the knee.
Russian twists may be one of the most popular oblique exercises, and for good reason. This motion is simple and to the point, trimming your waist dramatically. To challenge yourself add a 15 lbs. plate and shred off those sides.
SpiderMans are my personal favorite, and not just because of the cool name. In a forward plank, alternate bringing the same knee to elbow, leaving the opposite leg to hold your weight. You will feel a burn in your side, back, upper, and lower abs.
Woodchippers are a great low impact exercise that brings an organic movement, loosening tension while strengthing your obliques. With a 10-20 lbs. dumbbell, stand with your hands over your right shoulder. In a slow sweeping motion, lower the weight across your body to the left knee. Then, keeping everything tight, raise the weight back above your right shoulder. This exercise is perfect for beginners while still challenging for gym veterans.
If you are looking to relieve some steam, these might be your new thing. Standing adjacent to the wall, hold a heavy medicine ball on your opposite hip. With power, twist and throw the ball against the wall. This exercise requires minimal coordination and can be fun when you’re in the zone.
Another plank based exercises, I know, I’m sorry. A plank truly offers the best stabilization while targeting your entire core and even hitting the shoulders a bit. For the T-Rotation, you will begin in a normal high plank. The twist on this one is a twist. Shifting your weight to the right side of your body, raise the left hand in the air, and look straight up. Alternating between the left and right, do 10 reps on each side.
Here is another fun one, that brings organic movement to the connecting joints (hips and shoulders) rather than tightening them, making it a real winner. Standing upright in an athletic stance, tighten your core while swiftly making a punching motion across your body. The key to this exercise is to make sure your abs are always tense as if you are about to be punched. Feel free to try this against a real punching bag or add light hand weights for more of a challenge. If you are interested in taking boxing classes, read more about the benefits of boxing.
Offset Dumbbell Squat with an Overhead Press
This last one is a whole-body workout that hits your deep core muscles. The beauty of this exercise is not that the obliques are targeted. Instead, you are focusing on your quads and shoulders while using the obliques to stabilize.
Standing with a dumbbell in one hand and squat down. As you stand up, raise the weight above your head, keeping your elbow turned in. Then, simultaneously lower back into a squat as you lower the weight back down to your hip. Repeat this action in a fluid slow motion.