Last but not least for this series, we have the internal obliques.
The internal obliques are not directly seen on the outside, but they wrap around your entire core (front and back) like a thick belt. Their function is to protect your organs and keep them in place. They also protect your back during heavy lifts and training. This is extremely important for your health and for injury prevention!
Here's the part that everybody will LOVE TO KNOW: internal obliques also hold in your stomach. So the stronger your internal obliques, the smaller your waist will appear and the less your stomach will hang out.
Got your attention? Good. Let's get to the exercises.
My top two exercises:
This is a very oldschool exercise. By oldschool I mean yogis did it and oldschool bodybuilders in the 70's did it. Why? Because it's actually beneficial for your health and it protects your body from injury when it comes to exercise and physical activity.
If you are a beginner, the easier variation is to stand on your hands and knees. Begin to take very deep breathes in and out. The goal is to fill your lungs completely with oxygen and then squeeze almost all of your air out. As you are doing this, you should be relaxing your stomach and letting it expand as you breathe in. On the contrary, as you breathe out, suck your stomach in (without sucking in air). Do this about 10 times to get a feel for it. You are now half way there.
When you are ready, inhale as much air as you can and expand your belly. Then exhale and bring your stomach in as much as you possible can. Once you are out of breathe, bring your belly button as close to your spine as possible. At this point your internal obliques are working the hardest that they can. I find that it is actually helpful to simulate swallowing air while bringing your belly button in. Now hold this as long as you can.
It is a very difficult exercise, so don't feel discouraged if you can't hold it for long. You will get better. Strive to hold for 30 seconds. And repeat about 4-5 times. Give yourself about 90 seconds of rest in between sets while you do this.
This is a much more common exercise that you might have heard of. But don't dismiss this section right away. Maybe I can help to make your planks more effective.
An important note to everyone planking, you are still working your abs. So if your lower back is starting to hurt, you are not doing it right.
Okay, so the starting position is on your elbows, with your hands resting directly in front of them. Take your knees off the floor and stand on the balls of your feet. Leave a slight bend in your knees so that your glutes and hamstrings don't work harder than they already need to. Tight your abs and make sure that your belly button is just slightly higher than your hips. That's right! Don't be a perfectly straight stick, raise your hips ½ an inch higher. This will engage your abs and disengage your lower back.
So while you are holding, here is another tip for you! Breathing is extremely important. Remember the vacuums from the section just above this one? This is a mini version of that. You are going to inhale a tiny bit of air, and exhale strong while bringing your stomach in. Hold your abs tight! As soon as you feel them relaxing, do the exact same thing; small inhale, long and strong exhale. YOU WILL FEEL THE DIFFERENCE.
All of a sudden that 2 minute plank record you hold, will come down to about 30 seconds.
Quality over quantity...always people!
Same principles stand! Make sure you give your body enough time to rest.
Personally I like to do these exercise on a day when I haven't taxed my abs already. I find that the quality of these exercises drops too much when your abs are already on fire.
I hope this series helps! Share it with your friends and you can always come back to this section of the site to read it again!