Your external obliques are located on the side of your abdominals along your waistline. Due to their location, it is possible that you can expand your waistline with oblique exercises.
Oblique exercises can make your waist wider. If you build muscle mass in the obliques, they can develop a wide, square appearance. Adjust your exercise routine if you want to keep a slim waist while still maintaining a strong core.
Targeting the Obliques
The obliques are the muscles underneath the fat deposit commonly referred to as love handles. They are a part of your core muscles that support your spine and posture and allow movement. The obliques work with the rectus abdominus muscle to allow you to bend your trunk from side-to-side while both the internal and external obliques are responsible for the twisting motion in your trunk.
If the obliques are overdeveloped or if you train to gain muscle mass, the obliques may give your waist a square or boxy appearance. While some men strive for this appearance, many women want small obliques, but don't skip training them altogether. Strong obliques are important for a strong and balanced core. Balance your strength training with cardio to burn fat so that the obliques and abdominal muscles are visible.
Avoiding Square Obliques
If you want to avoid a wider waistline from training obliques, it is important to understand how you build muscle mass. Understand that based on genetic factors, some individuals gain muscle mass more easily than others, according to the American Council on Exercise. Hormones also play a role. Women have less testosterone which generally means they do not develop as much muscle mass.
The way you exercise also plays a role in how much muscle you gain. To gain muscle, you generally want to exercise with a heavy weight and do three to four sets of eight to 10 repetitions, advises the American Council on Exercise. Exercising with less resistance and higher repetitions will increase your muscular endurance.
Although building muscle in your obliques may cause your waist to widen slightly, it can also result in toned abs. Take steps to lose the fat hiding the new muscle including regular cardiovascular exercise and a healthy diet.
Oblique exercises are important to maintain a strong core. Your core muscles, including your obliques, are activated in many exercises and day-to-day activities as supporting and stabilizing muscles. Be sure to also include exercises in your routine that specifically target your obliques.
Some weighted exercises you can consider to build muscle include standing twisting crunch with a cable pull. Also consider weighted twisting sit-ups and crunches. These can be done on an incline bench, on the ground or on an exercise ball, notes ExRx.net.
If you want to skip the weights and incorporate body-weight exercises into your routine, try a side plank that targets your abs and obliques as well as your butt and hips. You can also include twisting crunches and sit-ups without the added weight.