When they’re not in shape, these muscles are known as ‘love handles’, but the correct terms are external and internal obliques. These are the muscles situated on the sides of the waist. The obliques are mainly responsible for allowing us to twist and rotate as well as bend over to the side. When it comes to working out the stomach region they are often neglected as most of us place our emphasis on our front abs. However, by including some of the following exercises regularly in your workouts, you’ll see those love handles become strong, trim, taut and terrific.
DUMBBELL SIDE BEND
Main area trained: Obliques
1 Stand with feet shoulder width apart and shoulders back, holding a dumbbell in the right hand.
2 Gently start leaning to the right, keeping the hips neutral and facing forward (don’t shift them to the left), keeping the dumbbell as close to the thigh as possible. Lean towards the knee as far as you can without feeling any discomfort.
3 From this position, focus on the left obliques to bring the body back up into the starting position. Repeat 15 times before changing sides.
Main areas trained: Obliques, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis.
1 Lie flat on the ground on your back.
2 Lift both legs straight up into the air so the toes are pointing to the ceiling and lift both arms straight up in the air.
3 Lift shoulders off the ground so you are now in a crunch position. Keep the shoulders off the ground throughout the entire set.
4 Tap the right ankle with the left hand, while simultaneously lowering the left leg as close to the ground as possible. Take the right arm back over the head towards the ground, keeping it as straight as possible. Then switch – aim to tap the left ankle with the right hand while the right leg lowers and the left arm goes back.
5 You should aim to complete 30 switches, rest for 30 seconds and then repeat.
Main area trained: Obliques
1 Stand side-on to a cable system in a gym or a resistance band that is looped around a pole. The band or cable should be just below shoulder height.
2 Hold the handle in the right hand, then place the left hand over the right hand, keeping the arms quite straight and across the body.
3 From this position, rotate your arms to the left side of the body and then control them back to the right, focusing on activating the obliques as much as possible.
4 Aim to complete 15 to 20 reps before changing sides and then complete another set on each side again.
SEATED MEDICINE BALL TWISTS
Main areas trained: Obliques, rectus abdominis.
1 Sit on the floor, holding a medicine ball or a weight in both hands.
2 Bend both knees and keep them slightly apart, with only your heels in contact with the floor. Lean back slightly.
3 Twist your upper body to the right and then the left. Aim to touch the ground with the medicine ball each time if you’re flexible enough.
4 Focus on keeping the abdominal muscles switched on. Continue for 30 seconds before having a break and then repeat. If any discomfort is felt in the lower back, stop immediately.