The core is the strongest part of your body that connects the upper body and the lower body. A good core strength is not only essential for upper body strength but a well-developed core enhances your looks, and promotes general health. The core is made up of three abdominal muscles out of which external oblique muscles are the largest and most superficial. External oblique muscles are located on the lateral sides of abdominal wall and stretch across to the front of abdomen. These muscles help to twist and turn the body to the opposite side to which the external oblique muscles are contracting. They play an important role in maintaining posture and stability of the body. This muscle group also plays a major role in our day to day activities; therefore it should be given priority in your exercise training. External oblique muscle exercises focus on strengthening the lower back, and love handle area, which is quite susceptible to injury while twisting or turning. Let us have a look at some of the exercises that target the external oblique muscles.
Oblique crunches are major, and the most effective exercises that will help in reduce your love handles. Oblique crunches are more effective when you are doing twist crunches or rotating motions as side movements specifically target the oblique muscle group. This exercise is easy to do and does not require any equipment.
• Oblique Floor Exercise: For doing this exercise, lie down on your back with your knees bent and flat feet and both the hands behind the head. Inhale a deep breath and exhale before lifting your upper torso (head, shoulder and neck). Then twist the upper body to the left so as to move the left elbow towards the right knee. Switch sides and repeat the exercise 15-20 times.
• Oblique Floor crunches with Legs Crossed: Leg variations are done to increase the difficulty level of the standard oblique crunch exercise. For doing this, lie down on your back with right leg crossed over your left knee. Lift your upper body and twist left shoulder blade towards the right knee. Repeat the exercise 15-20 times by changing sides.
• Side crunch: It is done in the same way, turn your knees on the right side and move your upper body to the left side. This is less effective variation of crunches as it works through small range of motion.
Sit on a chair in an upright position placing your fingertips on the top of shoulders and bending the elbows. Now, twist the elbows, shoulders and arms without turning your head. Twist the upper body as much as is possible and then rotate back to the normal position. Repeat this at least 5-8 times daily.
MEDICINE BALL EXERCISES:
Variations of Trunk Rotation exercises are done with the help of medicine ball or any weighted object.
• Sit straight on a chair with your feet flat on the ground and contract your abdominal region. Hold the medicine ball at the level of your chest, exhale and then twist the upper body or trunk to one side by keeping your arms in line with your chest. Inhale and return back to the normal position. Repeat it in the opposite direction.
• Another exercise using medicine ball is Diagonal swing. Stand with your right foot behind and hold the medicine ball in your left hand over your left shoulder. Swing the ball towards your right side without rotating your upper body and slightly turning shoulder girdle. You can perform the same exercise by switching the leg position.
ROTATIONAL AB’s EXERCISES:
Rotational abs exercises involve side bending or twisting the body, which strengthens the oblique muscles.
• Lie down on your back and bend your knees as well as hips at 90 degrees angle. Keep your arms on the sides. Move your knees and hips to the right side keeping the upper body in the same position. Hold the position briefly and then bring back the bent knees and hips in the centre. Repeat the exercise in the opposite direction.
Any abdominal exercise in which the legs are raised or the body is twisted invokes the oblique muscles to work and makes them stronger.
The above mentioned core exercises specifically emphasize on strengthening the external oblique muscles. These exercises have to be done with great care and gradually the intensity of core exercises is increased so as to build the strength and stamina and reduce the risk of any injury.