Abs includes not only the six packs, but also the obliques. If obliques are well-trained, you can call the upper part “Fish Gill” & lower part: “V cut”. Today, we are going to discuss the obliques and exercises.
First, we should know that there are two muscles in obliques: External Oblique & Internal Oblique. The details will not be discussed here. We should learn about its movement. The first one: bending your torso towards to your waist. Another one: Bending your torso diagonally. We will demonstrate them later.
Before we discuss the recommended exercise, one common mistake that most people made will be addressed first. Holding the dumbbell & Bands to do a side bend. Let’s not first discuss whether it is a good exercise. But holding the same weight in both hands will eliminate the force of each other. Technically, your oblique’s contraction is not against the weight. Then, how to do it properly?
The truth is you have to hold the weight/band ONE handed. Then there will be resistance for one side. So don’t try to do both sides at the time. Is this exercise good? No comment. The only advantage I can think of: Convenience & Ease of changing weight. About the mind-muscle contraction will vary among different people.
I prefer bodyweight exercises for obliques. But there are too many abs exercises. In general, most of them are more like the same.
#1 Crunch with Rotation
First one, basic but useful for your six packs & oblique. Adding rotation in your Crunches. When you crunch, try to touch your right knee with your left elbow with a diagonal contraction. Similarly, try to touch your left knee with your right elbow. Crunch itself can train your six-packs effectively. With rotation of your torso, obliques will be highly engaged. The same exercise can transform to another exercise with a small change. Like, at the peak of crunch, just continuously rotate, left and right. It’s like the same exercise, has the same effect.
#2 Reverse Crunch with Rotation
Another exercise is Lying Leg Raise/Reverse Crunch with Hip Rotation. Lying Leg Raise/Reverse Crunch can train your lower abs, but with hip rotation, more more obliques will be engaged. This is definitely a good exercise.
#3 Mountain Climber
The above exercises may be too hard for beginner. We then introduce one easier exercise: Mountain Climber. In order to target the obliques, one of the ways is to try to lift your left knee to your right elbow. Similarly, right knee to left elbow. If you do it properly, You can feel the tightness of your abs, the squeezing of your oblique. But since this exercise is not too intense, If you want to feel the contraction, You have to learn Mind-Muscle Connection for Abs. In fact, I have dedicated a movie for that. If you are interested, please refer it.
Here is the briefing. In order to feel it right, we have to keep a Posterior Pelvic Tilt position (PPT), Curling your upper body. Under this posture can you feel the maximum squeeze/contraction. If you push with your hands and legs and pulling your body part, your abs is contracting so tight to hold your body to resist the force. Then, your abs is fully contracted. This technique requires practice. I recommend you to re-watch my previous related video. There will be much more in-dept information.
Apart from the 3 exercises recommended, there are still many obliques exercises. You can ask your PT/Coach. Watch some demonstration here first.
Oblique Exercises for Pull-up Bar
Advanced lifters can use Parallel bars/Pull up Bar to train obliques. I will use some demonstration using Pull up Bar. Since Pull up bar’s exercises are harder. Besides, a good grip strength is needed, Good core as well. Otherwise, you will swing.
Let’s try the easy one. Hang the bar, maintain a PPT posture, legs forward, Slightly turn your torso, your waist is facing the front. Do a leg/knee raise movement. Easier version: The leg will not be lifted. When you are more capable, you can lift your legs up. Imagine that it is just a hanging leg raise Twisted Version. Just a small change in detail can engage much more obliques. Of course, this one can train your six-packs as well. So it is actually quite a good exercise.
If you are capable enough with a stronger core to stabilise yourself without too much swinging. Try to do Around The World. The difficult part of Around The World is that its range of motion is wide causing more momentum, and swinging. So not everybody can handle this move. Many will ask: How to stabilise your body. In fact, the truth is Do It Slow. Especially when you are lowering down, You have to tighten up your abs/core to stabilise yourself. If you really doing it right, you can feel the vibration of your body because you are actually resisting the force.
Moreover, for all hanging abs exercises, Please do not have a moment of “Fully Relaxed” at the bottom. If so, the exercise will become easy. I have mentioned this in another previous video, please refer it. You can use parallel bars for same exercises, but I don’t repeat myself here again.
Waist/ Love Handle
Now, we will discuss the waist muscle/fat. The muscle beneath the waist/the V Cut/ Love Handle are actually Obliques. So if your obliques are well-trained, then your waist will look good. The genetics of most people determine that The fat layer is dense at the waist position. So, in order to see the “V Cut”, not only is your obliques well-trained, you also need a low Body Fat %. To reduce body fat, you need to do fat loss actions to lose some weight/fat before you can see your Fish Gill/V Cut.
So, how low body fat is needed? It depends. But in general, the six-packs will show first before the oblique. I have mentioned in the previous video, obliques training is not necessary for beginner who should focus more on upper/lower abs training. Obliques training are designed for experienced lifters who already have visible abs. Arrange more oblique training just to emphasise the abs/oblique definition.
How many exercises needed for oblique training? The basic needs 2-3 exercises which can replace the ordinary upper/lower abs exercise. You can train it frequently as well. 2-3 times or more are also okay. The reps is like rest of abs exercises. But it may be a little harder than usual exercises, so the reps may be a little bit fewer. Roughly 15-25 reps for 4 sets.
You can see that my selected exercises are not totally isolation move for obliques. They can train your upper/lower abs as well. Again, if you are beginner, stick to more upper/lower abs exercises first. Until your abs become bigger, touchable/visible, then you can train your obliques.
For Abs, training is one side, making the muscle bigger. But in order to see the abs and obliques definition, it eventually comes down to your body fat %. The strongest muscle but with a layer of fat covered, is still invisible. As mentioned in previous video, work on BOTH sides. Train your abs; Cut some weight. The process might be difficult, but if you can persist, you will succeed.