Target those obliques to feel that muscle burn

By Nicky Holland, Fitness Manager, Fitness First, Beach Park Plaza

It’s that time of year again when your clothes feel tighter on you and new goals are set. Many people focus on losing weight around their stomach and they do this by doing cardio exercises and normal sit ups. This can have an affect but very few people will target their obliques. Your obliques are the muscles on the side of your core, which when trained can tighten in and chisel your waist so you lose the fat around the side of your body, which will help you drop a dress size or a jean size.

Technique is important and you need to really isolate the side of the body to feel the muscle contraction. Range of movement is also key. Let’s get on with the exercises…

1) Straight Leg Oblique lift

Quite a tricky move to do for the first time. Lie on your side with your bottom arm extended out to the side. Place both legs on top of each other and keep them extended but at an angle slightly in front of the body. The movement starts when you bring your top arm up and lift both legs into a ‘V’ position. You need to do this explosively and lift your upper body to meet your legs in a high crunch whilst keeping your legs straight.

(3-5 sets of 15-20 repetitions each side)

2) Side Plank

Balance and upper body strength are two components used in this move. When on your side, place your elbow directly under your shoulder. Have both legs out straight and with a split stance, top leg in front, bottom leg behind. Here you need to lift your hips off the floor so you are balancing on your arm and two legs with your hips lifted. This will engage your obliques. Your top arm should be up straight in the air for balance. From there you need to reach your top arm under your bottom arm by rotating the body, whilst keeping your balance. Imagine you are a spring and you roll up, then uncoil yourself. To do this with good form, you must keep the hips lifted and rotate in a slow and controlled movement.

(3-5 sets of 5-10 rotations each side or work for 20-30 secs)

3) Oblique Double Leg Extension

Lying on your side with your bottom elbow bent at 90 degrees, top arm behind touching the floor for balance. Lift both legs out straight two inches off the floor. Simple bend your knees into your chest by bracing the abdominals and extend your legs away. This counts as one rep. The higher you lift your knees into you chest, the more your obliques will work.

(3-5 sets of 15-20 repetitions each side)

4) Elbow to Knee side crunch

Your obliques should really be ‘switched on’ by this point. For this exercise, lie flat on your side with your arms and legs out straight. Use your abductors to lift both legs off the floor. This contraction is important for the movement that follows. With your top arm, from a straight position over your head, squeeze the side of your body and lift your top arm and top leg to meet in the middle. You should feel this stretch as your arms and legs straighten then feel it contract as your arms and legs shorten, which really hones in on those side obliques.

(3-5 sets of 15-20 repetitions each side)

5) Mountain climbers

From a push-up position, put your hands under your shoulders with arms extended and balance both feet on the floor. Keep your hips down so your back is straight. Then bring one knee up and across your body to the opposite elbow. Remember to twist and exaggerate the rotation as you bring right knee to left elbow and left knee to right elbow. This will work the sides and should be performed under tension and with speed. You should feel this in the obliques on the side each time you bring the knee across and brace your core.

(3-5 sets of 20-30 secs)

For each move, focus on feeling the movement so that you isolate the side of the body and work on your technique, muscle contraction and range of movement. After following these exercises I am sure you will be feeling those oblique muscles or you certainly will the next day!