No matter who you are, what you do, or where you live, you will certainly benefit from having a better posture. A better posture will not only provide you with benefits in your social life, but it can also help to reduce back pain.
However, to get a better posture, you need a strong core. And to get a strong core, you’ll need to work and target your obliques.
Obliques are the muscles located diagonally to the left and right of your six-pack, and they are the muscles that your body uses to rotate and stabilize your torso.
Too many guys work really hard on their ab routine and forget to work on their obliques, but when well trained and paired with a lower body fat percentage, your obliques are the muscles that will give you that tapered look.
There are a lot of exercises that will help you work on your obliques, and I have included the best below:
Not only are side planks a great way to target your obliques, but they can be performed without any additional equipment, although if you want to add difficulty, you can add a dumbbell to the routine too.
1. To get started doing the side plank, lay on your right side with your feet, hips, and right forearm resting on the floor. Stack your feet on top of each other.
2. Place your right elbow directly under your shoulder and use it to prop up your torso.
3. Keep your head aligned with your spine and hold the position for 15 seconds on each side.
There are two methods that you can use to increase the difficulty of the side plank. The first method is to perform a variation called the Side Plank Raise:
1. Get into the side plank position.
2. Lift your hips off the floor and create a straight line with your body.
3. Lower your hips slowly, without touching the floor.
4. Lift your hips again, and repeat for 15 slow reps.
5. Repeat on the opposite side.
If you want to add even more difficulty to the side plank, just simply hold a dumbbell on your highest side or lifting your leg on that side.
Oblique crunches are a popular exercise, similar to an abdominal crunch. Oblique crunches involve twisting the top area of your body diagonally to meet the opposite knee. Oblique Crunches effectively target your obliques, and are easy to perform.
1. Lie with your back firmly on the floor, with your feet resting straight.
2. Put one hand behind your head, leaving the other hand on the floor.
3. Lift your shoulder and body forwards and touch the opposite knee with your elbow. Repeat for 10 reps, switching sides as you do so.
Whilst you can’t add resistance to the oblique crunch using extra weight, you should always aim to improve your execution, and reduce your speed.
Side bends are a great exercise commonly done wrong. Many people at the gym will perform the side bend holding two dumbbells, which ruins the workout due to the second dumbbell acting as a counterweight. When you perform this exercise, always make sure that you are concentrating on one oblique at a time.
1. Stand with your back straight, and your feet shoulder width apart. Hold the dumbbell with your left hand. Your palms should be facing towards your torso.
2. Keep your back straight, and bend to the left as far as possible, breathing in and you do so. Hold for one second, and return to the starting position, exhaling.
3. Repeat the exercise using the opposite side of your body. You can do 10 reps of this on either side.
You can add more difficulty to this exercise by increasing the weight of the dumbbell, and performing the exercise more slowly, making sure you improve on your execution.
Cable Wood Chop
1. Attach a rope to a cable tower, moving the cable to the top position
2. Grab both handles of the rope and onto your knee, keeping your shoulders perpendicular to the stack.
3. With arms extended over the opposite shoulder, look straight forward and pull the rope across your body, ending the movement at waist height.
4. Bring the weight back to the start position and repeat.
5. Make sure you are keeping your core tight throughout.
To start with, you should do 4 sets of 15 reps.
To add more difficulty to the cable wood chop, increase the weight and perform the movement at a slower pace, making sure to get your execution right.
It’s tempting to go fast when doing this exercise, but fast bicycle crunches just don’t work when it comes to strengthening your obliques. You need to slow it right down.
1. To get started with the bicycle crunch, lie face up on the floor, placing your hands behind your head, lightly supporting it with your fingers. Bring your knees to your chest, lifting the shoulder blades off the floor. Mind that you’re not pulling on your neck while you do this.
2. Rotate to the left, and bring your right elbow towards your left knee as you straighten the other leg.
3. Pause for one second, and then switch sides, bringing the left elbow towards your right knee.
4. You can make this exercise harder by fully extending your legs when in the starting position, keeping your feet six inches above the floor. After each rep, return your feet to this extended position, with the aim of doing 4 sets of 10 reps.