When you’re training for a mid-section that everyone envies, most people forget to train their obliques. These long muscles – when well trained and when your body fat is low – fully frame your rectus abdominis and give your waist a more tapered look. In terms of how often to do abdominal workouts, Judy Bruen says that: “The American Council on Exercise recommends resting a day in between abdominal workouts to allow for muscular recovery and growth.” Here are 10 oblique exercises that will do the trick.
- Cross-body mountain climber – Get into a push-up position. Raise your right knee toward your left elbow and lower. Raise your left knee towards your right elbow and lower. As you practise this exercise, increase your speed.
- Side plank – Lie on your side with your legs straight and prop your upper body up on your forearm. Raise your hips so your body forms a straight line. If you want to make the exercise more difficult, elevate your feet or add a torso rotation. Heather Hitchcock says: “Side planks and side plank raises are among the best exercises for strengthening your obliques and your internal core muscles.”
- Bicycle crunch – Lie face up with your hips and knees bent to 90 degrees so that the lower parts of your legs are parallel to the floor. Place your fingers at the sides of your forehead and lift your shoulders off the floor. Twist your upper body to the right as you pull your right knee into your torso – as fast as you can – until it touches your left wrist. Simultaneously straighten your left leg. Return to your starting position and repeat on the right.
- “T” rotation – Get into a push-up position. Shift your weight into your left arm and rotate your torso up and to the right until you’re facing the side. Pause for 3 seconds before reversing the movement and repeating on the opposite side.
- Medicine ball rotational toss – Grab a medicine ball and stand sideways, about 3 feet away from a solid wall. Your left side should be close to the wall and your feet should be shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees slightly and hold the ball at chest level with your arms straight and parallel to the floor. Rotate your torso to the right and release the ball. Catch it as it bounces back and return to your starting position.
- Off-set dumbbell squat – Grab a medium-weight dumbbell with one hand and hold it in the racked position so that one end rests at your shoulder with your elbow bent. Lower your hips until your quads are at least parallel to the floor. Pause, and then slowly return to a standing position. Keep your back upright. Once you’ve performed all the reps on one side, switch hands and repeat.
- Hanging oblique raise – Take hold of a pull-up bar with an overhand grip and hang from it at arm’s length. Lift your legs until your hips and knees are bent at 90 degrees. Raise your right hip toward your right armpit. Pause, and then return to the starting position.
- Hip-up – Lie on your left side, with your right arm extended so that it’s perpendicular to the floor. Prop yourself up on your left forearm and raise your hips so your body is straight. Lower your left hip, and then raise it again until it’s in line with your body. Finish all your reps on your left side before switching to the right.
- Band-resisted anti-rotational press – Grab a continuous-loop exercise band and tie it around a vertical post — the inside of a squat rack works well — so it’s just below shoulder height. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with the right side of your body facing the post. Pull the band in front of you so it’s in line with the middle of your chest. Holding it in your hands, take a step or two away from the post to create more tension in the band. Extend your arms out in front of you, pressing the band away from your body. Pause, and then reverse the movement to return to your starting position.
- Bear crunch – Get down on all fours. Your hands must be directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Dig your toes into the floor and raise your knees slightly so they hover just a few inches above the ground. Simultaneously rotate your torso to the right and drive your left knee and your right elbow toward each other so they meet in front of your chest. Pause, and then reverse the movement. Perform the movement on either side during each rep.
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