One of the sources of pride for many fitness enthusiasts is their abdominals. Guys with the iconic “six-pack” will often use any excuse to peel off their shirts to display their washboard abs. However, part of keeping your abdomen in shape is working on your obliques or side abs.
What Are Obliques?
This word comes from an Old French and Latin root that means “to slant to the side.” Ironically, oblique was also a synonym for envious. If you are jealous of the chiseled abs and side abs you see in fitness magazines, it’s never too late to start exercising to shape yours.
Most people know this distinct set of abdominal muscles that run from the upper abdomen to the hip muscles. You have these on each side, and they are the place where the dreaded love handles appear. It’s no wonder that so many people want to target these muscles and get them in shape.
Purpose of Your Side Abs
Did you know that you had two kinds of obliques? According to an article published by Yoganatomy, they are internal and external. The external ones start from your lower eight ribs and travel down to your pubic bone. Your inner side abs run along your lower four ribs to the right, ending above your pelvis.
The purpose of your internal side abs is to give your trunk flexibility and to compress it. They can work together to affect your entire trunk or separately, only flexing one side. Your external side abs do the same thing, except when they work individually. The article states that they bend the opposite side of your trunk.
What Causes Love Handles to Form on the Obliques?
Those despised fatty deposits on your side abs are a common problem, according to the Men’s Journal. When you eat an abundance of empty calories and lead a sedentary lifestyle, your body must store the excess fat. Unfortunately, it sends them to places that have many fat cells, like your abdomen and obliques.
The article states that love handles are a physiological problem and that men are more prone to them because of how they store fat. For some people, developing love handles is a genetic disposition. Your side abs are one of the most stubborn areas to target for losing fat.
Being Realistic with Your Obliques Workout Routine
Unfortunately, there are no magic pills or new-age exercises that can guarantee results in targeted areas. You may be fighting genetics and other variables in your fight against blubber. However, it would be best if you took joy in knowing that you’re trying your best, and you’re bound to get some payoff for your hard workouts.
According to an article published by Harvard Medical School, your best practice incorporates core, ab, and oblique workouts at least twice a week. You can set aside one day for them or make them part of your aerobic routine. You are aiming for a healthy balance in diet and workouts.
Unique Exercises to Target Your Problematic Obliques
If you want to get your body into optimal shape, you can do so at home. Many exercises specific to your core, abs, and side abs can be done without special equipment. All you need is a clean, safe area, comfortable workout clothes, and a sturdy exercise mat.
Are you ready to work on those unsightly love handles? Remember that every person loses fat differently, and results can vary. Here are ten helpful exercises that will target your obliques:
1. Bicycle Crunch
- Lie comfortably flat on your back on your exercise mat.
- Gently bend your legs and bring your knees toward your abdomen.
- Put your hands behind your head and interlace your fingers for support while bending your elbows.
- Now, compress your core muscles as you inhale and lift your head, neck, and shoulder off the mat.
- Smoothly bring your left elbow towards the knee on the opposite side. Now, try straightening out your left leg simultaneously.
- As you exhale, go back to the first position and twist your body to the opposite side. Bend your left leg while straightening your right leg.
- Try to keep both legs from touching your mat as you move. Try five to eight repetitions.
2. Heel Tapping
- To begin, lie on your mat with your back and knees bent. Keep your arms naturally at each side with your palms facing the ceiling.
- Inhale, tighten your core, and lift your head until your upper back is off the mat.
- Reach sideways with your right arm and tap your right heel with your hand. Exhale as you turn to the starting position and do the same steps with your left hand and left heel. Do this five to ten times.
3. Russian Twist
- Sit comfortably on your mat and bend your knees while keeping your feet flat.
- Next, lean back slightly until you’re lifting your feet and balancing on your bottom.
- As you inhale, stretch your arms out and twist your trunk until your arms drop at your side. Exhale with each opposite twist.
- Keep breathing and twisting back and forth with your arms dropping to the left and right. Try ten to fifteen repetitions.
4. Mountain Climber
- Stand on your mat in the high plank position with your hands flat and aligned with your shoulders. Try to keep your back as straight as possible.
- Bring your left knee upwards toward your chest while keeping your right tip toes firm on the mat.
- Now, stretch your left leg back into the first position while pulling your right knee toward your chest. It’s as if you are climbing on a flat surface. Do five to ten repetitions while mindfully breathing.
- Begin by lying comfortably on your mat flat on your back.
- Stretch your arms behind your head and keep them as straight as possible. Try to keep your legs straight on the floor with both feet touching.
- As you inhale, lift your upper body while lifting your legs. Remember to keep your arms and legs straight.
- Exhale while you slowly lower your arms and legs. Do this for five to ten repetitions.
6. Side Plank
- Lie with your right side comfortably on your mat.
- Raise your upper body off the mat and use your right forearm for support. Bend your knees at a 45-degree angle and position your left leg on top of your right leg.
- While your feet are still touching, use your side abs to pull your left hip toward the ceiling. You can either rest your left arm on your side or stretch it overhead while in this position.
- Hold for two or three breaths, then switch sides and repeat the steps. Try to do three to five repetitions.
- Position yourself on your mat as if you were ready to do a pushup, keeping your arms straight.
- Now, raise your left hand and rotate your body’s left side upward until you are sideways. Your body is forming a T-shape. Hold for 1-2 breaths.
- Return to the starting position and rotate the right side of your body. Try to keep your hips raised and your body as straight as possible.
- Do these for five to ten repetitions.
8. Pointer Dog
- Position yourself on all fours while aligning your hands with your shoulders and your knees with your hips.
- As you tighten your core, stretch out your left arm and right leg simultaneously. Remember to breathe while keeping your back and hips stable.
- Return to the beginning position and repeat with your right arm and left leg.
- Try to do five to ten repetitions.
9. Bear Crawl
- Begin on all fours with your knees raised slightly off the mat.
- Inhale as you move your right knee to your left elbow. Bend your left arm as your knee moves upward.
- Keep your right arm on the mat as you exhale and rotate.
- Move back to the starting position and repeat with your left knee.
- Do at least five to ten repetitions.
10. Spiderman Pushup
- Place yourself in the plank position with both hands a bit wider than shoulder distance. Try to keep your body aligned straight.
- As you lower your chest to the floor, bend your elbows so they make a 45-degree angle backward from your body. At the same time, bring your left knee up and toward your elbow. Picture yourself as a spider climbing a wall.
- Now, press your chest upward while stretching your knee and bring your foot back to the mat. That is one repetition.
- Repeat these steps on the opposite side with your right knee and elbow. Try to do five to ten repetitions.
Before You Start Working on Your Obliques
If you have back, neck, or other joint problems, you may need to modify these exercises. Consider speaking with a certified fitness instructor about the best ones for you. Remember to warm up with stretches and stop any training immediately if you experience pain.
Final Thoughts About Exercises for Your Obliques
Are you tired of coping with those unattractive love handles on your side abs? With proper nutrition, exercise, and using these specific movements in your routine, you’ll see a difference. You can say goodbye to the love handles and welcome finely chiseled abs with sleek obliques.