Following suit of my post about the six pack, let me give a brief introduction of the function that the obliques are created for. Primarily, the obliques are on the body for stability. They control the torso's rotations and its bending down the sides.
My top three exercises:
This is a fantastic exercise to activate the obliques by creating rotations at the waist. The obliques are then forced to stop the movement and begin it again.
Unfortunately, like crunches, many people focus on getting as many repetitions as possible instead of focusing on the quality of the movement.
To start this exercise, you can begin by sitting on the floor with a 90 degree bend in your knees. Raise your feet off the ground and hold your back at a 45 degree angle from the ground. Bring your hands together and extend your arms so that they are directly in front of your chest. Rotate from your waist as far as you can. Your hands will be driven to the ground. Try to make this movement fast! Just before your hands touch the ground, force your torso to stop the rotation. Pause for a second and rotate your torso to face the ceiling once again (resetting your arms to be in front of your chest). Then repeat this movement on the other side.
Tempo is important! Start in the middle, rotate to one side, pause. Rotate to the center, pause. And repeat on the other side. The quick rotation activates the obliques for a split second, then inertia takes over. Stopping the movement stimulates the obliques once again. So the pauses and starts are crucial, more crucial than just rotating uncontrollably.
Exhale at the start of the rotation and exhale to stop the rotation. The key is to exhale every time your obliques work.
10-15 reps on each side is sufficient. Repeat for 3-4 sets.
This is a fantastic exercise for engaging the obliques to bring the side of your hips to the sides of your ribs. Very similar to the function and movement of the V-sit mentioned in the previous article.
The main difference between this and the other v-sit is the sitting position. You will be sitting on one of your butt cheeks and support your balance with the arm on the same side as the butt cheek you are sitting on. I use my arm as a way to measure the correct range of my movement. I start the movement where my arm's elbow can touch the ground.
As I start bringing my knees up and squeezing the sides of my midsection to bring my torso up my elbow lifts off the ground and only my hand remains in contact with the floor for balance.
Start exhaling as the movement starts. Exhale harder and harder as your body forms the "V". At the top of the movement you should almost be out of breath. Pause for a second or two, come down slowly and repeat again.
For this one I say 10-15 again but personally, I find myself exhausted at 12. 3-4 sets.
Wood choppers are fantastic rotational exercise for the obliques. This movement simulates the movement of an axe swing. For this exercise we will use a cable. The cable provides constant tension in the opposite direction of the pull, thereby stimulating our obliques throughout the entire movement.
Keep your feet shoulder with apart and use both hands to grip the same handle. Extend your arms until there is a slight bend at the elbows. Take one small step forward from the cable so that the cable pulls you sideways and slightly to the back.
Keeping your arms extended in front of you, rotate away from the cable origin through the waist. Do not move or pivot your feet. If you do this, your glutes, quads and hamstrings act to help you with the movement. You will cruise through the movement and it will seem very easy, but your obliques will be on vacation.
Make the muscles made for rotation, work on the rotation.
For this exercise, there is no urgent movements. Take it slow and keep it controlled. The more time your obliques are working (time under tension), the more they will develop and the stronger they will become.
10 reps per side is sufficient for me. 3-4 sets.
Similar to the first post. Make sure to give this muscle group sufficient amount of rest between working days. 48 hours is sufficient rest for them to recover and rebuild.
I usually put one or two of these exercises into the same routine as the other exercises from the first article.