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What are Obliques?

An anatomical illustration showing many muscles in the upper body, including the external abdominal oblique muscle (or obliquus externus abdominis).
Obliques are the stomach muscles located toward the sides of the body.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 27 September 2014
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Obliques is a term referring to muscles on the side of the upper body that help to assist in turning the body from side to side. They are actually two sets of obliques, called internal and external and each set contracts in a different way during twisting or side-to-side movements. This is the area of the body is also where the famous “love handles” develop, which people work so hard to eradicate.

In the front of the abdomen, there is a major muscle called the rectus abdominis, which stretches from pubis to the ribs. On either side of the rectus abdominis, right at the hips, the internal obliques are located. The external obliques are higher, on either side of the rectus abdominis, and start at the rib cage.

Anytime a person twists the body, both sets of obliques work, but action of each muscle depends on the side to which a person twists. The internal oblique involved when a person twists is located on the same of the side of the twist. For instance, twist to the left and the left internal oblique gets a stretch. In contrast, a twist to the left works the right external oblique muscle, or the one opposite to the direction of the twist. It’s easy to feel this, and the slight pull on the rib cage and chest that occurs when a person engages in a twist.

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There is great desire to tone obliques since they can help create a shapely waist, and also cause freer movement. Many of the basic sit-ups and crunches won’t adequately tone oblique muscles, because they involve up and down movement instead of twisting movement. When a crunch incorporates a twist to the side, as the other stomach muscles are contracted, oblique muscles are worked too, and the exercise may be more efficient.

A good sit-up plus twisting exercise is touching the opposite elbows to opposite knees when the body is in the crunch position. This helps use the obliques at the same time it works the rectus abdominis. Such an exercise may be called bicycle crunches.

Other exercises that can work these side abdominal muscles include side bends and waist twists, with or without small weights, which may help lengthen and tone oblique muscles. Many types of exercises that are called “core muscle” exercises, at least partially address obliques, and can be useful in toning this area, while maintaining good range of motion.

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comfyshoes
Post 3

@BrickBack -I also heard that Pilates is great for strengthening the obliques because it works on your core muscles which are mainly in your midsection. I also think that you have to change your diet too if you want to get rid of your love handles because it does not matter what exercise you do if you still eat a lot of junk food.

Your body will still store the excess fat and you will continue to have the love handles. Oblique exercises are important, but proper nutrition is equally important in order to shed those love handles.

I know all about this because I learned the hard way and it took me a long time to realize that I had to change my eating habits too, not just add more exercise to my lifestyle.

BrickBack
Post 2

@Sunshine31 - I do that too sometimes, but I really like doing oblique crunches because I think that I get the best results from them. I do sit ups in which I have my knees bent and twist upward to the opposite side.

It does burn after a while but it makes a big difference. I also think that an oblique workout should include a strong cardio component. For example, I jump rope in between my oblique crunches and not only does jumping rope help burn the fat from my obliques, but it tones my entire body all over.

I think that if you want to strengthen your obliques you will have to jog or do some other type of high intensity workout that will also sculpt those muscles. I think that jumping rope is as hard as jogging but it does not put as much of a strain on your knees as jogging does.

sunshine31
Post 1

I used to have problems with love handles until I started lifting weights, but I started doing these oblique exercises with dumbbells and it has really made a difference.

I use three pound weights and stand perfectly straight and with the dumbbells in my hands,and I bend at the waist and alternate sides. I try to hold my stomach muscles in too. In addition, I will also do a boxing motion directly in front of me and will make a fist with the dumbbells and act like I am punching a punching bag.

The exercises for the obliques will strengthen the oblique muscles and allow you to wear those low rider jeans that really hug your hips and are really sexy.

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