Ab workout part 3: 10 exercises to build obliques and core muscles
The love handles you have long been wanting to banish aren’t the easiest to get rid of. The obliques and core muscles are notoriously difficult to train; the muscles on the side of the stomach (obliques) stay hidden under a layer of fat most times, while core muscles maintain stability by holding the upper and lower halves of the body together.
Along with crunches and leg raises for the abs (rectus abdominis), it is important to train the other components in order to achieve definition, tone or a flat stomach. After splitting the training for upper (Day 1) and lower abs (Day 2) into two days, you can train your obliques and core on a different day to make your routine more efficient.
Obliques are also known as side abs which run along the sides of the midsection and are of two types — internal and external. To achieve the desired abdominal definition, you must train this muscle group separately. Perform this routine with a gap of two to three days after working the abs as it helps your muscles get an adequate amount of rest to recover.
1. Dumbbell side bend
Forging a rock hard midsection like fitness professionals is difficult, especially without knowing the correct form and exercises to target the particular areas of the body. The dumbbell side bend directly hits the fat of the obliques and strengthens the core muscles, making it an excellent exercise to lose love handles. If you don’t have dumbbells, use any heavy equipment with a good in-hand grip of a weight you’re comfortable lifting.
How to do it
- Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Grab a dumbbell in your right hand and slightly bend your knees.
- Brace your core and start bending downwards to the right side from the waist.
- Bend as far as you can to squeeze the oblique muscles.
- Hold the position for a few seconds then return to the starting position.
- Repeat the movement to the left side. This is one rep. Perform at least 20-25 repetitions in a set.
Tip: Instead of alternate sides, you can further isolate the movement by finishing a set on one side, holding one dumbbell and the other hand resting on your waist.
Plank is a simple yet effective bodyweight exercise for the abdominal and oblique muscles. To perform this exercise we need zero equipment and can be done anywhere at home or in a park.
How to do it
- Plant your forearms straight on the floor under your shoulders.
- Stretch your legs straight and elevate the body on your toes.
- Your neck should be straight, looking downwards.
- Try to hold this position for 60 seconds. Repeat the hold thrice to complete a set.
Tip: The more you practice the plank, the better you will become at it, and the longer you end up holding your body in that position.
3. Side plank
Much like the conventional plank, the side plank uses body weight and gravity in an effective way to burn fat and helps in strengthening the oblique muscles. Before starting this exercise, warm up your abdominal muscles with mobility exercises such as stretching.
How to do it
- Lie on the floor on your right side and pile your feet on top of each other.
- Your torso should be elevated by your right elbow under your shoulder.
- Contract your core and lift your hips until your body becomes parallel to the ground.
- Hold the position for as long as possible and then slowly drop down your hips.
- After finishing on the right, turn to the left and repeat the movement. Complete three holds for each side.
4. Side plank dips
This exercise is a variation of the side plank with a hip-up twist. In this exercise, we prop the body up as we do in the side plank with a different movement to increase the intensity. Side plank dips target the right oblique and left oblique in the same movement.
How to do it
- Follow the lying instruction of side plank, first for the right side.
- Now, dip your hips towards the ground then hit them up higher than the neutral elevation.
- Repeat this for 60 seconds to accomplish one set of the right side, then turn to the left. This is one set, try to accomplish three sets in total.
This exercise is similar to the Russian twist with an easy movement. In the Russian twister, we work on our upper abdominal but this variation targets the core and both sides of the stomach in one efficient movement.
How to do it
- Sit down on the floor with bent knees.
- Grab a weighted plate, a heavy book or a basketball at home, keeping it close to the chest.
- Lean back your torso to the angle of 45 degrees.
- Contract your core and start twisting your arms towards the right direction as much as you can.
- Pause for a few seconds and then repeat the movement to the left.
- This is one rep, try to do 15 to 20 reps for three sets.
6. Bicycle crunch
The bicycle crunch is also known as the bicycle manoeuvre and is one of the best exercises to turn your core hard as a rock and shredding your obliques while strengthening your ab muscles as well. It is basically an all-in-one, single exercise that fulfils all the required movements to forge your six-pack abs.
How to do it
- Lie down on your back on a flat surface with slightly raised head and shoulders.
- Put your hands above your ears but do not make a knot of your fingers behind your neck.
- Extend the right leg parallel to the floor and bring the left leg close to the chest.
- Now, twist your abdominal and move your torso in a way that your right elbow touches your left knee.
- If you are a professional try to touch your shoulder to the knee.
- Lower your left leg and right arm at the same time while bringing up the opposite two limbs in the same movement.
- Repeat this for 60 seconds over three sets.
7. Spiderman crawl/abs/plank
Spiderman crawl is a core body workout that also targets the obliques. It also helps in strengthening the core and all the abdominal muscles. It is a great variation of the standard plank exercise. To perform this follow these instructions:
How to do it
- Lie down on a flat surface in a plank position.
- The gap between your arms should be slightly wider than the shoulders.
- Pull the right knee to the outside part of the right elbow.
- Hold this position for a few seconds.
- Return to the plank position and repeat the movement with the left.
- This is one rep, try to achieve three sets of 20-25 reps each.
8. Forward lunges with rotation
This exercise is a combination of two movements which targets the shoulders, core, quads, hamstring and both the obliques. This is an easy workout that works as a compound exercise.
How to do it
- Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart.
- Hold something heavy in your hands such as a medicine ball, a book, a basketball, etc.
- Lunge forward with the right leg. As you bend the knee, twist your upper body to the right side.
- Return to the centre and push yourself back to get to the starting position.
- Now repeat this movement with your left leg to the left direction.
- This is one rep. To get the best results do three sets of 15 reps each.
9. Sit-up twist
This is an amazing combination of the twist and the sit-up exercise. In this, you can strengthen your core and target both obliques at the same time. This is an advanced workout, so first, try to master the above exercises.
How to do it
- Lie on the floor with a straight back and slightly bent knees.
- Your feet should be flat on the floor throughout the movement.
- Lift your upper body and twist to the right side till your left elbow touches your right knee.
- Pause for a second in the centre position and then repeat the same movement to the left side.
- Slowly lower down your torso to the ground.
- This is one rep, try to do three sets of 10-15 reps each.
10. Hanging oblique raise
In terms of the degree of difficulty, this is the most intense workout on the list and has to be done under the supervision of a professional. Hanging leg raises are extremely effective for the core and abdominal muscles. To forge the obliques, you need to raise the sides instead of your legs. To perform this exercise, you need a parallel bar to suspend yourself.
How to do it
- Hang on a pull-up bar with fully stretched straight legs and arms.
- Fold your knees to a 90-degree angle.
- Curl your waist to the upward direction on the left side.
- Pause for a moment and then come back to the centre.
- Curl back to the right side in the same movement.
- This is one rep. Try to get as many repetitions as you can.
While trying to achieve a flatter and stronger looking stomach, exercising every part of the centre of your body is crucial in shedding the excess fat around it. Dividing the workout into three days and working the upper and lower bodies on separate days, and working on the obliques and core muscles on the third is a great way to isolate the different muscle groups in the stomach and attain your desired levels of fitness more effectively. It also gives you a chance to change the schedule on every occasion, rather than feel it becoming monotonous by doing the same movements every day.
This is the third and final article in a series on ab workouts.
For more articles on exercises and workouts, check out our fitness section.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.
The information provided here is intended to provide free education about certain medical conditions and certain possible treatment. It is not a substitute for examination, diagnosis, treatment, and medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. If you believe you, your child or someone you know suffers from the conditions described herein, please see your health care provider immediately. Do not attempt to treat yourself, your child, or anyone else without proper medical supervision. You acknowledge and agree that neither myUpchar nor firstpost is liable for any loss or damage which may be incurred by you as a result of the information provided here, or as a result of any reliance placed by you on the completeness, accuracy or existence of any information provided herein.
Updated Date: Feb 06, 2020 15:30:37 IST
Tags : Ab Exercices, Ab Muscles, Ab Workout, Ab Workout Part 3, Abs Workout, Bicycle Crunch, Core Exercises, Core Muscles, Dumbbell Side Bend, Forward Lunges With Rotation, Hanging Oblique Raise, Leg Raise Exercise, Lower Ab Workout, Lower Abs Workout, Myupchar, NewsTracker, Oblique Muscles, Plank, Reuters, Side Plank, Side Plank Dips, Sit-Up Twist, Spiderman Abs, Spiderman Crawl, Spiderman Plank, Twister
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