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How to Get Ripped and Strong Obliques with 3 Simple Exercises

Enhance your core strength, build a stronger six pack and protect your body against injury with these effective exercises.

Enhance your core strength, build a stronger six pack and protect your body against injury with these effective exercises.

What are the Oblique Muscles?

The term “oblique muscles” typically refers to a group of muscles known as the abdominal obliques. These are a pair of muscles located on each side of the abdomen, running diagonally from the lower ribs to the pelvis. The abdominal obliques are divided into two main groups:

  • External Oblique: The external oblique muscles are the more superficial of the two and are the largest muscles of the lateral abdomen. They have a diagonal fibre orientation that runs downward and toward the midline. The external obliques are responsible for various movements, including rotating and bending the trunk, as well as flexing and compressing the abdomen.
Abs-and-ObliquesSource: Photos Courtesy of CrossFit Inc
  • Internal Oblique: The internal oblique muscles lie underneath the external obliques, with fibres that run in the opposite direction. They also extend from the lower ribs to the pelvis but have a fibre orientation that runs upward and toward the midline. The internal obliques work together with the external obliques to rotate and bend the trunk and contribute to spinal stability.

Both the external and internal oblique muscles play crucial roles in trunk stability, posture, and movement. They are involved in actions such as twisting, side bending, and flexing the trunk, making them important for activities like twisting during sports, maintaining balance, and performing daily activities that involve core stability.

Strengthening and conditioning these muscles can help improve overall core strength and stability.

Why are Strong Oblique Muscles Important?

Strong oblique muscles are important for several reasons:

Core Stability: The oblique muscles are part of the core musculature, along with other muscles such as the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and erector spinae. A strong core provides stability to the spine and pelvis, which is crucial for maintaining proper posture, balance, and efficient movement. Strong obliques contribute to core stability and help prevent injuries.

Trunk Rotation: The oblique muscles play a significant role in trunk rotation. They allow you to rotate your torso, whether you’re playing sports like golf or tennis, performing tasks that involve twisting, or simply turning your body to look in a different direction. Strong obliques enhance your ability to generate rotational force and improve your performance in activities that require twisting or turning movements.

Functional Movements: Strong oblique muscles are essential for various functional movements in daily life. Activities like bending, lifting, reaching, and carrying involve twisting and side-bending actions, which heavily rely on the oblique muscles. By strengthening these muscles, you enhance your ability to perform these movements efficiently and with less risk of strain or injury.

Spinal Support: The oblique muscles, along with the other core muscles, provide support and stability to the spine. They help maintain proper alignment and reduce stress on the vertebral column during movements. By strengthening your obliques, you can alleviate pressure on the spine, potentially reducing the risk of back pain and promoting spinal health.

Aesthetics: Well-developed oblique muscles can contribute to a sculpted and toned midsection. Strong obliques help define the waistline and create the appearance of a narrower waist, enhancing your overall physique.

It’s important to note that while strong oblique muscles have their benefits, it’s also crucial to maintain balanced strength throughout the core and avoid overdeveloping one muscle group at the expense of others.

How to Get Ripped Obliques With These 3 Abs Exercises Twisting Six Pack Abs Exercises Perfect Obliques Workout for a Six PackSource: Cristian Baron / Unsplash

Incorporating a comprehensive core-strengthening program that targets all the core muscles can help you achieve optimal stability, strength, and functional movement.

Oblique Exercises

Add these into your training.

Low Cable Woodchopper Exercise

Low cable woodchopper exercises are a type of strength-training exercise that targets the core muscles, particularly the obliques. They simulate the motion of chopping wood with an axe, hence the name “woodchopper.” This exercise involves using a cable machine with the cable set at a low position.

Here’s how you can perform a low cable woodchopper exercise:

  1. Set Up: Stand sideways to the cable machine with your feet shoulder-width apart. The cable should be positioned on the side opposite to the direction you are facing. Adjust the weight stack on the cable machine to an appropriate resistance level.
  2. Grip: Grab the handle of the cable with both hands, interlacing your fingers. Your hands should be positioned outside the knee of your closest leg.
  3. Starting Position: Begin with your arms fully extended, holding the cable handle down and across your body. Your torso should be slightly rotated away from the cable machine.
  4. Execution: Initiate the movement by rotating your torso and pulling the cable handle diagonally upward and across your body in a chopping motion. Imagine you are swinging an axe diagonally from low to high. Allow your hips and feet to pivot naturally as you rotate.
  5. Finish: At the end of the movement, your arms should be slightly above shoulder height and across your body, with your torso rotated fully.
  6. Return: Slowly reverse the movement, controlling the cable as it returns to the starting position. Keep your core engaged throughout the exercise.
  7. Repeat: Perform the desired number of repetitions on one side before switching to the other side.

Maintain proper form during the low cable woodchopper exercise. Keep your core muscles engaged, maintain controlled and smooth movements, and avoid excessive twisting or jerking motions.

Start with a lighter weight and gradually increase the resistance as you become more comfortable with the exercise.

As always, consult with a fitness professional or trainer before attempting new exercises, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or injuries. They can provide guidance on proper technique and help tailor the exercise to your specific needs and fitness level.

Bicycle Crunch

The bicycle crunch is a highly effective exercise for targeting the abdominal muscles, including the rectus abdominis (the “six-pack” muscles) and the obliques. Here are some reasons why the bicycle crunch is considered an effective exercise:

Comprehensive Abdominal Engagement: The bicycle crunch engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously, including the rectus abdominis, external obliques, and internal obliques. This exercise provides a comprehensive workout for the entire abdominal region, helping to strengthen and tone these muscles.

Increased Muscle Activation: Research has shown that the bicycle crunch activates the abdominal muscles to a high degree. The twisting and bending motions involved in the exercise require significant muscle recruitment, leading to a more intense workout and increased muscle activation compared to traditional crunches.

Core Stability: The bicycle crunch promotes core stability by engaging the deep stabilizing muscles of the abdomen and lower back. As you alternate between twisting and bending movements, the exercise challenges your core muscles to work together to maintain stability and control, thereby enhancing your overall core strength.

Functional Movement Pattern: The bicycle crunch replicates a movement pattern similar to activities performed in sports and daily life. The twisting motion mimics movements such as rotating to swing a golf club, throwing a ball, or reaching for an object to the side. By training these movement patterns, you can improve your functional strength and performance in various activities.

Caloric Expenditure: The bicycle crunch is a dynamic exercise that involves both upper and lower body movement. It engages multiple muscle groups and requires energy expenditure, which can contribute to burning calories and aiding in weight loss or weight management goals when combined with a balanced diet and overall exercise program.

No Equipment Required: One of the advantages of the bicycle crunch is that it can be performed without any equipment. You can do it almost anywhere, making it a convenient exercise for home workouts, travel, or when you don’t have access to a gym.

To perform the bicycle crunch, lie on your back, lift your shoulders off the ground, and bring your opposite knee and elbow towards each other, alternating sides in a cycling motion. Aim for controlled and fluid movements, engaging your core throughout the exercise.

As with any exercise, proper form and technique are essential for maximizing effectiveness and minimizing the risk of injury. If you’re new to the bicycle crunch or have any underlying health concerns, consider consulting with a fitness professional to ensure proper execution and to customize your workout routine based on your individual needs and goals.

Twisting Leg Raises

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Twisting leg raises are a compound exercise that combines leg raises with a twisting motion. This exercise primarily targets the abdominal muscles, particularly the rectus abdominis and obliques, while also engaging other muscles in the core and lower body. Here are some benefits of twisting leg raises:

Core Strength: Twisting leg raises engage the entire core musculature, including the rectus abdominis, obliques, and deep stabilizing muscles. This exercise helps strengthen and tone the abdominal muscles, leading to improved core stability, balance, and overall core strength.

Oblique Development: The twisting motion involved in this exercise specifically targets the oblique muscles, which are responsible for rotational movements of the torso. Twisting leg raises can help develop and define the oblique muscles, enhancing the aesthetic appearance of the waistline.

Hip Flexor Engagement: During leg raises, the hip flexor muscles, including the iliopsoas and rectus femoris, are activated as you lift your legs off the ground. Combining leg raises with twisting adds an extra challenge for the hip flexors, further strengthening and toning these muscles.

Improved Spinal Mobility: The twisting motion in twisting leg raises helps improve spinal mobility and flexibility. It allows for rotational movement of the spine, which can be beneficial for activities that involve twisting or rotating the torso, such as sports, dance, or everyday movements.

Balance and Coordination: Twisting leg raises require balance and coordination as you lift and lower your legs while simultaneously twisting your torso. This exercise challenges your body’s stability and enhances proprioception, which is your body’s awareness of its position in space. Improved balance and coordination can have positive implications for sports performance and overall functional movement.

Caloric Expenditure: Twisting leg raises are a compound exercise that involves multiple muscle groups and requires energy expenditure. This exercise can contribute to burning calories and increasing overall metabolic rate when combined with a well-rounded exercise program and a balanced diet.

Twisting leg raises may not be suitable for everyone, especially individuals with pre-existing lower back issues or those who experience discomfort during the exercise. If you have any concerns or underlying health conditions, it’s best to consult with a fitness professional or healthcare provider before incorporating twisting leg raises into your workout routine.

They can provide guidance on proper form, modifications, and alternatives that suit your specific needs and goals.

What are the Best Reps and Sets for Building Muscle?

The optimal number of reps and sets for building muscle can vary depending on factors such as individual goals, training experience, and overall program design. However, there are some general guidelines that can be followed.

Repetitions (Reps): For muscle building, a common rep range is typically 8 to 12 repetitions per set. This range is often referred to as the hypertrophy range and is associated with stimulating muscle growth. Performing 8 to 12 reps allows for a balance between lifting heavy enough weights to provide a sufficient stimulus for muscle growth while still maintaining proper form and technique.

Sets: The number of sets you perform per exercise can also impact muscle growth. For most people, performing 3 to 4 sets per exercise is a good starting point. This provides enough volume to target the muscles effectively without leading to excessive fatigue or overtraining. As you progress in your training, you may increase the number of sets to further challenge your muscles and stimulate growth.

Sara-and-Lower-Abs Best Lower Abs Exercises You Have Never TriedSource: Photos Courtesy of CrossFit Inc

Progressive Overload: It’s important to note that the key to building muscle is progressive overload. This means gradually increasing the demands placed on your muscles over time. This can be achieved by increasing the weight you lift, the number of reps performed, or the number of sets completed. By consistently challenging your muscles with progressive overload, you stimulate muscle growth and adaptation.

Rest Periods: Rest periods between sets are also important. For muscle building, a rest period of around 1 to 2 minutes is typically recommended. This allows enough time for recovery while still maintaining the intensity of the workout.

Variation: Adding variety to your training routine is beneficial for muscle growth. Incorporate different exercises, angles, tempos, and training techniques to target muscles from various angles and stimulate different muscle fibres.

Remember that individual responses to training can vary, so it’s important to listen to your body, monitor your progress, and make adjustments as needed. Additionally, it’s advisable to consult with a qualified fitness professional or trainer who can provide personalized guidance based on your specific goals, abilities, and limitations.

Lastly, building muscle is not solely determined by the number of reps and sets. Factors such as nutrition, proper form, adequate rest, and recovery are equally important for optimizing muscle growth.

Exercises and Programming in Video Format

Jeremy Ethier’s YouTube channel features educational videos with clear explanations and demonstrations of exercises, workout routines, nutrition tips, and debunking fitness myths. He aims to help individuals make informed decisions and achieve their fitness goals based on scientific evidence rather than misinformation or fads.

His videos often incorporate studies and research findings, and he strives to simplify complex fitness concepts for his audience. Jeremy Ethier emphasizes proper form, technique, and safety in workouts while focusing on optimizing results and avoiding unnecessary risks.

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