These muscles help bend your torso to the side, help rotate your torso to the left and right, and perhaps most important, actually act to resist your torso from rotating, which helps to stabilise and protect your spine.
The following 5 exercises train your obliques in all the ways they function, by using uneven loads, instability or rotation. The result: you’ll challenge your obliques from every angle creating a more functional and aesthetically appealing physique.
1. OFFSET DUMBBELL SQUAT
Grab a medium-weight dumbbell with one hand and hold it in the racked position, so one end rests by your shoulder with your elbow bent. Lower your hips toward until your quads are at least parallel to the floor. Pause, and then reverse the movement to the standing position. Keep your back in the upright position. Perform all prescribed reps on one side, switch hands and repeat.
2. SINGLE-ARM OVERHEAD PRESS
Grab a dumbbell with one hand and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squeeze your glutes and brace your core—like you’re about to be punched in the gut—and press the dumbbell overhead. Pause, and then reverse the movement to return to the starting position. Perform your reps, switch hands and repeat.
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3. SINGLE-ARM FARMER’S CARRY
Grab a heavy dumbbell in one hand and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold it with your palm facing your side and the dumbbell hovering a few inches away from your body. Brace your abs like you’re about to be punched in the gut and walk for a prescribed distance.
4. SIDE PLANK
Lie on one side with your legs straight and prop up your upper body on your forearm. Raise your hips so your body forms a straight line from your head to your heels. If you want to make it harder elevate your feet.
Get into a push-up position. Shift your weight into your left arm and rotate your torso up and to the right until you’re facing sideways. Pause for 3 seconds before reversing the movement and repeating on the opposite side.
6. BIRD DOG
Get into a tabletop position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Simultaneously lift your left arm and right leg. Pause for 5 to 10 seconds before lowering. Repeat on the other side. If you want to make it harder, elevate your knees so they hover just a few inches off of the floor.
7. SPIDERMAN PUSH-UP
Assume a standard push-up position. As you lower your body toward the floor, lift your right foot off of the floor, swing your leg out sideways and try to touch your knee to your elbow. Reverse the movement as you push your body back to the starting position.
8. MEDICINE-BALL ROTATIONAL TOSS
Grab a medicine ball and stand sideways, about 1m away from a solid wall. Your left side should be close to the wall and your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees slightly and hold the ball at chest level with your arms straight and parallel to the floor. Rotate your torso to the right and release the ball. Catch it as it bounces back and return to the starting position.