Abdominal exercises that target the middle and sides of your waist reduce your chances of lower back injury and protect your spine during twisting movements. Your side muscles, or obliques, rotate your spine and help bend it forward. Your rectus abdominus muscle, which runs down the middle of your abdomen, also bends your spine forward and supports your spine. Save time and increase your efficiency by choosing exercises that strengthen both groups.
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Oblique Planks Exercise
Planks work your rectus abdominus and transverse abdominus muscles. Add rotation to vary the exercise and target the sides of your waist. To begin, assume plank position with your arms straight, as if you're about to do a pushup. Face the floor with your spine straight. Twist your hips to point your knees to the right. Return your knees to center and twist to the left.
Standing Medicine Ball Trunk Rotations
Standing medicine ball trunk rotations target your rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus and obliques. All you need is a medicine ball. Stand up straight with your feet together. Hold the medicine ball between your palms and near your chest to begin the exercise. Alternate twisting right to left. Do not lean forward. Move your shoulders, hips and arms smoothly and in sync. The amount of weight you use depends on your strength. Never use a weight too heavy for you to control with smooth movement.
Stability Ball Knee Tucks
Stability ball knee tucks work the same muscles as the standing medicine ball trunk rotations, but balancing on a stability ball increases the exercise's difficulty level. This is an advanced exercise. Begin in pushup position with your shins on the center of the ball and your arms straight -- keep them straight during the exercise. Flex your knees and roll the ball toward your stomach. Your hips raise toward the ceiling to make room for the ball beneath you.
Oblique crunches work your abs by bending your spine forward off the floor and your obliques by twisting your torso. To perform oblique crunches, lie on your back with your feet on the floor and your knees bent. Place your hands behind your head with your elbows bent. Squeeze your abs and raise your head and shoulders up as you twist toward your left knee. Lie back flat on the floor. Lift up again and twist toward your right knee.