Six-pack dreams are all well and good, but getting a more streamlined midsection shouldn’t stop there. According to Daily Burn 365 trainer Dara Theodore, the obliques are basically the secret sauce to maintaining strength, mobility and stability in your core.
All About Obliques
“The external and internal obliques facilitate lateral trunk flexion, i.e. side bending, and rotation of the torso. They also stabilize the spine,” Theodore says. The icing on the cake: “Strengthening these muscles contributes to safer movement and better posture,” she says.
Before you park your butt down for fifty oblique crunches, though, consider this: “The more complex the movement, the more muscles involved,” Theodore says. That’s why this trainer prefers to target the obliques using dynamic movements. “Because the core is made up of more than just the abdominals, including the back muscles and hip complex, it is advantageous to incorporate exercises like these that target more than one core muscle at a time.”
Side of Strength: The Ultimate Oblique Workout
Ready to try your trunk at Theodore’s favorite oblique workout? Tackle the whole circuit in one go, with little to no rest between moves. Beginners, try it one time through, and as you build strength, advance to two to three rounds. Now show us your strong side!
1. Table Top Torso Rotation
Before you can build strength, you need a stable foundation. For this rotational move, make sure to keep hips square and your stabilizing shoulder directly over your wrist. “Imagine scooping your lower rib cage underneath you in each rotation,” Theodore says. Repeat for 10 reps on each side.
2. Self-Resisted Bicycle
It’s just like riding a bike! Except it’s up to you to make it harder. After the twist, “actively press your hand into your opposite leg and return the resistance equally with that leg,” Theodore says. Meanwhile, stay clued into your posture. “Only extend the other leg as low as you can, while still keeping your lower back pressed to the ground.” Complete 10 reps, then switch legs.
3. Crab Reach
Feeling crabby? Good! You’ll work the entire posterior chain in this move, while targeting the obliques, too. Pro tip: “Keep feet firmly planted on the ground, allowing rotation to begin with hip drive and generate through the torso all the way to the top of the head,” Theodore says. Do 10 reps per side.
4. Kneeling Oblique Press
You’ll hit all the hard-to-reach spots with this challenging move. “Initiate the movement by sending your hips to the side, then reaching for the ground with one hand while dynamically pressing overhead with the other,” Theodore says. “Try to get your bottom hand firmly planted on the ground, if possible.” Once you’ve mastered the move, hold a dumbbell with the upper hand. Shoulder stability, FTW! Complete 10 reps, then switch sides.
5. Side Plank with Knee Drive
Be warned: This one is way tougher than it looks! If your plank feels shaky on the knee drive (check out these common mistakes), take it to the hand instead of the forearm. Or, try an assisted side plank variation by returning your lower leg to the ground (knee bent) after the knee drive, Theodore recommends. Do 10 reps, then repeat on the other side.
This article originally appeared on DailyBurn.com.
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