Abs: Best Exercises for Obliques

Abs: Best Exercises for Obliques

When it comes to abs, the first thing people think of is getting that defined 6 pack.  But not to be overlooked, & equally important to a well defined abdominal region, are the oblique muscles.  The abdominal obliques are the thin, wide muscle tissues that are found on the sides of your abdominal region.  They work to provide core stability, range of torso motion & protect internal organs.  

Because of how internal & external obliques engage, training them can be tricky.  Exercises like Leg Raises & Knee Raises are great for getting those 6 pack muscles to show, but they do not engage your obliques.  In this article I will layout a plan to target those hard to reach muscles and develop your whole core.

Abdominal Obliques

The obliques are made up of two muscles: Internal & External Obliques.  Located on the sides of the abdominals (6-pack), they run from the hips to the rib cage.  The internal obliques are located directly under the external obliques, & the muscle fibers are perpendicular to each other.

To keep this simple, you can consider the Obliques as one muscle group.  Movements like bending the torso sideways, twisting the torso & rounding the spine like in a sit up are performed by the Oblique muscles.  In addition, the obliques strengthen your core stability.  As an example, if you take in a deep breath & tighten your core when preparing to do a heavy lift.  That bracing of your torso is accomplished by the obliques to allow you to handle heavy loads & prevent injury during a lift.

Training Techniques

Because of the movement obliques provide our bodies, we naturally want to train them using the same movements. For example, using dumbbells & cables to perform side bends & seated twists.  But in reality, those exercises do very little to strengthen the obliques for their real purpose, which is to provide core stability & transfer power.  It is this primary function of obliques that will have the biggest impact on your physical strength.  To properly train obliques, our focus has to shift to exercises that emphasize this bracing & stability function rather than torso movement exercises.

The Workout

To get strong obliques & bolster that ripped mid-section abs, doing compound lifts is an excellent way to strengthen obliques.  Not only does it help to get the definition you’re looking for, it increases your core’s ability to transfer power from your lower body to the upper body for heavy lifting.

I recommend Squats & Deadlifts with their variations to properly train your obliques.  Using these compound movements will definitely achieve the aesthetic look most people are seeking & they will work to give you a strong & stable core.

#1 - Deadlifts

The purpose of deadlifts is to force engagement of core muscles.  Using a barbell and weight that you can accomplish 15 to 20 reps, perform 2 to 3 sets of deadlifts with strict form that results in an effective workout that’s focused on function.

#2 - Squats

The purpose of the squat is to also engage your core muscles & emphasize core development.  Again, using a barbell and weight that you can accomplish 15 to 20 reps, perform 2 to 3 sets of squats.  Focus on form and a tight core during the lift & accentuate squeezing your core to strengthen stability.

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