Staying with the theme of working out muscles we tend to neglect or ignore, I bring you the obliques. Your core will never be as strong as it should if you fail to work out these muscles.
The obliques, there are two of them the internal and external obliques cross diagonally from the bottom of your rib cage to your pelvis. They help us to stay stable while in an upright position. As the 0bliques play a key role in the function of rotating the trunk, you’ll want these to bring strong especially if you are a martial artist.
If you understand how you work out a muscle, then you know you do this with a concentric contraction, eccentric contraction, or an isometric contraction. The first two work when a muscle crosses a joint such as the bicep which we work out by doing bicep curls that incorporate the elbow joint. Also, you are working the muscle along its length, which runs parallel with our arm. So how do you work a muscle that crosses our body in the midsection from one side to our centre? With some movement and isometric (without movement) contractions. Since the obliques don’t cross a joint we are somewhat limited to the number of exercises for this. Let’s get to it.
- Ab Bikes: If you have ever participated in one of my workouts then you are familiar with this exercise. Think of your body position when on a bicycle. Now, lay on your back and resume that position. Make fists with your hands and keep your hands at your ears, elbows in parallel with your upper body. Keeping a 90 degree bend in your legs, extend one leg while bringing the knee of the other in. As you bring the knee in, bring the opposite elbow to that knee. Think of the motion you are trying to achieve is bringing your lower ribs on the opposite side to the knee that is coming in. You can hold at the top of the exercise for 3 seconds and actively contract the obliques. Also to add intensity slow down the exercise keeping your core tight. Finally, do not grab your head. This is why you make fists with your hands and keep them at your ears. Don’t let your hands come away from your ears just to reach your elbow to your knee. The purpose is to do the rotation using your core and that motion gets your elbow there. Try to do 3 sets to fatigue.
- Russian Twist (With and without medicine ball): Alright, lying on your back, sit up and make a V shape with your body, the lower part of the V being your hips. Your upper body is one side of the V and your upper legs are the other side of the V. The closer you bring your feet in the easier it is. If you need to, keep your feet on the ground to take some strain off of your lower back. Keep your core tight. Without a medicine ball, have your hands at your waist and reach to your left side with both hands and touch the ground. This gives you the rotation you need. Now do it to the right side. Keep going back and forth. With a medicine ball do the same while holding the medicine ball and try to touch the floor with the ball. To add intensity, you can also do this while lowering your shoulders back and extending the feet and then coming back up, think of this as a smooth in and out motion. If you have a hard time with this because your core is not developed enough then stop. As always if you experience any pain stop immediately! Exercise should never be a painful thing. Try to do 3 sets to fatigue.
- Cable Woodchop: You’ll need a band for this, particularly a band that you can attach to something. For this exercise you’ll start on your right knee and on your left foo, a half-kneeling position. Think of your hands together raised up by your left shoulder like you are clasping a sword, ready to slice your opponent across their midsection and ending the movement to the right of your right hip. Don’t extend your arms, keep the elbows bent, and do this motion while rotating your upper body. Remember that to work obliques you need to bring your ribs to your hips. When placing the band for this exercise you will need to have it to one side and in front of your body a bit, about a foot. Same type of motion we are doing here as we did with the previous exercises. Do 10 – 12 reps then do the other side, know on your left knee and up on your right foot. Do for 10 – 12 reps and 3 – 4 sets total.
I hope this makes sense to everyone. Focus on proper technique instead of trying to achieve a higher number. Sacrificing technique to achieve another rep or two will not benefit you. And lastly, invest in yourself and book a few sessions with a certified personal trainer. Your trainer can correct your technique, ensure you are executing correctly, make adjustment recommendations based on your body and answer those questions you have while you are working out.
Yours in health,