Many women are struggling with large waistlines due to fat deposits from eating unhealthy diet or due to genetics. However, this can be naturally managed by exercising the oblique muscle groups. These are the muscles at the side of the abdomen that in most cases are overshadowed by the fat deposits. To better understand these muscles and how to make your waist look slimmer and more beautiful, here are some tips.
What are the oblique muscles?
These are the muscle groups around the abdomen that are very active in athletes and those who regularly exercise. Humans have external and internal oblique muscles located at the sides of the abdomen, (specifically) to each side of the six-pack muscles known as the rectus abdominis. According to Healthline, to quickly identify these muscles, just place your hand below the armpit then follow downward the torso side to just below the ribs.
Common problems with oblique muscles
Since the oblique muscles function in the forward and sideways bending movements and twisting, any sudden movement can cause pain in the oblique muscles. Any high-intensity exercises like sit-ups and crunches or sports like golf, tennis, and baseball can cause strain the oblique muscles. Other common causes of problems with these muscle groups include:
- Direct punches to the abdomen.
- Sitting for long hours in one position.
- Unimproved posture.
- Chronic coughing or sneezing.
- Lifting heavy loads.
- Bowling, raking soil or paddling a boat.
Why are oblique muscles important?
The oblique muscles perform two primary functions:
- An accessory for respiratory muscles by acting as an antagonist for the diaphragm; helps reduce the chest cavity volume during exhalation; they contract to push organs into the chest cavity producing exhalation. During inhalation, they pull down the lower wall of the diaphragm, therefore, increasing the lung volume hence facilitating filling with air.
- The internal oblique muscles help in rotation of the torso by acting concertedly with the external oblique muscles.
The other purposes of these muscles are:
- Maintaining balance.
- Different movement activities.
- The strength of the midsection for lifting heavy things.
- Help in doing vigorous exercises.
- Walking and running.
Do oblique exercises make the waist wider?
These side facing muscles on your waist is hard to exercise to the point of exhaustion. The obliques do not build significant muscle quantity to make your waist look wider. The increase is slight and hardly noticeable. These exercises, however, can be used to build core strength and tone your stomach muscles.
It is possible to expand your obliques by exercising though the change will be unnoticeable since these muscles are very thin compared to other muscles like the biceps and hamstrings.
The best oblique exercises for women
1. Bicycle crunches
This is the mother of all abs exercises according to Mae Barraclough. It targets both the six pack and the oblique muscles. Lie flat on your back and interlock your fingers behind your head then raise your shoulders while bringing one elbow and the other knee together. Change to the other knee and elbow and do 20 to 30 reps. (She advises that) to control the tempo and draw in your core so as to engage your core muscles while protecting your spine from injury.
2. Criss-cross jacks
This is a variation of the standard jumping jack and is so good at getting your heart pumping. Jump up while widening your feet and sending your arms into a T position. Jump in closing the arms and feet then repeat till you reach 20 reps.
3. Squat to twisting overhead press
While holding a dumbbell in front of your chest, sit back as you squat sending your butt back, when standing back up, press your arms straight and twist the torso turning you to one side. On the repeat, twist your torso to the other side till ten reps.
4. Resistance band torso twist
This requires a simple resistance band with your choice of tension. This is an effective exercise to enhance functional movement. Use this technique shown in the (video) to tone and improve your core strength. Tie the band to an object like a door knob at the height of your waist, grab the band then twist away from the torso and not the hips. Do around 30 reps.
5. Plank curl-unders
Once you are set in a plank position, place a dumbbell aligned with your left palm heel and shift your weight to the left hand. Reach for the weight with your other hand, pick it and pivot the weight into your side plank and raise it towards the ceiling to a T position. Then rotate your arm back to make your right hand curl under the left forearm. Do eight to10 reps. (Picture)
6. High-knee corkscrew
While standing up straight, raise a knee and bend the opposite elbow. Twist at the mid-section to join the two. Repeat for the opposite side for about 20 reps.
7. Side turns
Commonly known as windshield wipers, side turns exercise targets the lower abs in addition to the obliques. Lying flat on our back, lift your legs at 90 degrees to your body and keep your core drawn in. Slowly bring your legs down to one side, back up then down to the ground on the other side and repeat for 20 reps. If you feel your obliques working instead of the hip or leg muscles, then you are doing it correctly. To increase the resistance, use a stability ball between the feet as shown in this
8. Twisted box pushups
With your feet standing together a few feet from a box, place your hands against the box then turn your torso so as to rest on the outside of one foot. In this position, do about ten pushups. Change to the other side and repeat. This exercise can be made simpler by doing the pushups against a wall.
Why exercise your obliques?
Other than improving the stability and strength of your core, exercising your oblique muscles helps build abdominal muscles. When your obliques are strong, they help frame your front –facing abdominals. It also helps set your hip and chest muscles making them have a larger appearance. A person with minimal body fat can have a trimmer appearance by exercising the oblique muscles. These exercises also play a major part in keeping your waist from developing muscle imbalance that can negatively affect your posture.
BikiniModelFitness demonstrates in this simple video how to perform effective oblique and abs exercise at home.
Play it while trying out the workouts to learn how to do them correctly. Any woman can try this out and see the results after a few weeks of doing this 10-minute exercise daily. However the above list of exercises can make a big difference to your health and core strength. Let’s begin building core strength and replacing fat with muscles and for a toned, beautiful body.