Obliques of Steel: 3 Exercises for Hardcore Obliques

O is for Obliques

The oblique muscles are made up of four muscles:  transverse, internal abdominal, external abdominal and rectus abdominis.  

Photo courtesy of abmachinesguide.com

These four muscles are important for not only helping to achieve a developed abdominal area, but also help in balance and stabilizing the back muscles too.  Without working out your abdominal muscles, you are more prone to having back problems, as the abdominal muscles help to support the back.

Oblique muscle exercises can easily be done at home - no gym necessary.

Here are my top 3 oblique muscle exercises:

1.  Crunch with a Twist

                                                                                  Photo courtesy of abdominalexercisesindex.blogspot.com

The crunch with a twist is effective in not only working the obliques but the rest of the abdominal muscles.   If you are a beginner, you will want to focus on form, keeping your back straight and pulling with your abdominal muscles, not your neck muscles.  Once you master the form, you can then add weights - either a medicine ball or dumbbell.  

2.  Lying Oblique Twist

Photo courtesy of www.lifescript.com

Lying oblique twist not only is effective in working the obliques (thus the name), but also in working the entire abdominal muscle group due to having to engage all of the abdominal muscles to stabilize the core and lower body so there is no arching of the back and keeping control of the legs when moving side to side.  When performing this exercise, keeping your form is crucial so that the lower back does not arch and the legs are kept at a 90 degree angle.

3.  Standing Knee Side Crunch

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Not all abdominal muscle exercises need to be performed lying down.  This exercise is a standing variation of the side crunch that is performed on the floor.  When executing this exercise, you will want to concentrate on the "crunch" portion when you raise you knee up and side bend until your elbow touches your knee (see "B").  Beginners can perform this exercise without weights and then once this exercise is mastered, you can add in weights or even workout bands.

Adding Oblique Exercises to your Workouts

When added oblique (or any abdominal exercises) to your workout routine, you can begin doing them at least two times per week with at least one to two days between workouts.  Once you advance, you can do them three to four times per week with at least one day of rest in between workouts.

In terms of sets and reps, beginners should aim for 10 reps on each side for one set, working your way up to 3 sets with 12 to 15 reps on each side.

Now It's Your Turn

Even though there are more than these three oblique exercises, what are your favorite oblique/abdominal exercises?

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