Strengthening the obliques is not just about developing a defined stomach. These muscles also play a valuable role in moving and stabilizing the spine. The internal and external obliques wrap around the torso like a girdle and assist in flexing, side bending and rotating the trunk. Many different exercises can be effective for guys looking to add strength and definition to these important muscles.
The standard crunch can be modified to activate a man's obliques by adding trunk rotation.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your hands interlaced behind your head. Keep your elbows pointing forward.
Bring your right elbow towards your left knee as you attempt to touch the two together. Your head and right shoulder blade lift off the ground as you do this.
After your elbow and knee touch, slowly lower each back to the starting position and repeat with the opposite side. Continue to alternate between sides at a steady pace.
Windmills challenge a man's oblique muscles to slowly control a rotation movement while maintaining a planked position.
Assume a pushup position with your elbows extended and your body propped up on your toes. Your hands should rest under your shoulders and your spine should be straight.
Shift your weight onto your left hand as you rotate your body to the right and raise your right arm in the air.
Continue to rotate until you are facing completely sideways and making a “T” with your arms. Hold this position for 1 to 2 seconds and then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side.
Mountain climbers provide guys with a strenuous oblique exercise by using the legs to flex and rotate the trunk.
Start this exercise in the plank position with your forearms resting on the ground and your body lifted onto your toes.
Maintaining the plank, slowly flex your right hip and bring your right knee under you towards your left elbow. This will cause your low back to flex forward and slightly rotate.
When you are unable to get your knee any closer to your elbow, hold the position for 1 to 2 seconds. Then, return to the starting position and repeat with the opposite arm and leg.
Jacknifes are an intense, yet effective way for men to strengthen their obliques. By keeping the arms and legs straight as you do the exercise, you'll quickly feel the burn in your abs.
Lie on your back with your arms extended over your head and your legs straight.
Without bending your knee or your elbow, bring your right hand to your left foot.
When the two meet, hold this position for 1 to 2 seconds, then slowly return each to its starting position. Repeat with the opposite arm and leg.
Lateral Hip Lift
By side-bending the trunk, lateral hip lifts not only target the obliques but also strengthen the lateral muscles of the hip.
Lie on your side with your legs extended and your body propped up on your forearm. Your elbow should be directly under your shoulder.
Lift your bottom hip up off the ground as high as you can without allowing your trunk to rotate
Hold this position for 1 to 2 seconds and then slowly lower back to the ground. When a full set is completed, repeat on the opposite side.
Men looking to improve their abdominal strength should perform two to three sets of 10 repetitions of these exercises, two to three times per week. Make sure to discontinue any exercise that causes increased pain as you complete it. Any questions or concerns should be addressed with a doctor prior to beginning an exercise regimen.