This week’s bootcamp: Work the oblique muscles
To get that coveted V shape torso, make sure you not only strengthen your abs, but also your oblique muscles with these simple exercises
We have already covered how you can develop those impressive six-pack abs, but the abs are surrounded by an important muscle set called the obliques. Their main function is to pull the chest downwards and compress the abdominal cavity. It also helps in bending from side to side and twisting your torso. Having a six-pack along with well-developed obliques gives you that desirable V shape around the hip area. Strong obliques also support the lower back and improve posture. Let us look at some exercises to strengthen these overlooked muscles. For all the exercises below, remember to breathe out as you are getting into the crunch position, and breathe in when you are coming back to the starting position.
Side Jack knife
Lie down on the left side with the left arm supporting the body and the right arm placed at a 90° angle to your head (starting position). Now using only your oblique muscles bring your torso and your right leg towards each other. Keep the right leg straight and raise it enough such that the elbow just about reaches it. Hold it in the crunched position for a couple of seconds then come back to the starting position. Repeat for the left side of the body as well.
Frequency: 3 sets of 10 reps for each side
Lie flat on the floor facing upwards. Get your hands behind your head or just around it if you prefer. Now slowly raise your upper body and legs off the ground, keeping the legs stretched out and straight (starting position). Now try to get your right elbow to touch your left knee, by bringing the left knee towards your torso, by twisting your core. Repeat with the right knee and the left elbow. In this exercise, the legs have a movement similar to that on a bicycle. The twisting of the body works out the obliques.
Frequency: 3 sets of 15 (for each arm)
Foot to foot crunch
Lie flat on your back facing upwards with the legs bent and feet on the ground. Raise your upper body from the ground in a way that keeps the abs under stress (starting position) and the lower back still touching the ground. Now try to raise your trunk and fold it from the sides in such a way that you are able to touch your right foot with your outstretched right hand. Come back to the starting position and repeat with the left side. This works purely on the obliques.
Frequency: 3 sets of 10 reps on each side
Side plank with oblique crunch
This is a variation of the oblique crunch. Lie down on the left side in a way that your forearm is supporting the body and the elbow is at right angle just beneath the shoulder. Your hip should be above the ground. Stagger your feet such that the left foot is in the front of your right. Now get your right hand and stretch it out from your head (starting position). Now bring your left knee to touch your right elbow, by twisting the body and thereby crunching the obliques. Hold it in the crunched state for a while and go back to starting position. Repeat with the right side.
Frequency: 3 sets of 10 on each side