Oblique Crunches for a Trim Waist?

Right Way to Train the Mid-Section 

Are the oblique crunches an important exercise for developing a wide waist?

There are a couple myths out there pertaining to training a wide waist. A lot of trainers are preaching to not train the obliques because they don’t want to have a wide waist. 

First of all, if you are developing large obliques, you are either…

1) Genetically predisposed at having large obliques just because of your body structure.

2) You are taking something that’s allowing muscles to grow a little too fast.

The obliques are a small muscle even though they take up a lot of our torso. They don’t really build up laterally (stretch out a whole lot). You could have decent size obliques and it won’t necessarily make your waist look huge. Larger obliques may make your waist look a little bit different and a little more tied in. 

I’m going to talk about the anatomy and physiology of the obliques and then share with you a couple exercises that are important for training the obliques.

Anatomy and Physiology of How the Obliques Work

The external obliques are one of the largest muscles in our torso. They insert at the top of the iliac crest from the bottom. The external oblique goes up to the bottom of our ribs. It also inserts down at the pubis to the very bottom of our pelvis. It also inserts in some fascia that’s behind the first layer of muscle in our pelvis region. It’s the job of the external obliques to balance out strength through rotation. If you ever have any rotation and you have neglected training your obliques, you are putting yourself at risk for back injury. You can see we do need the external obliques to support rotation. The other thing the obliques do is pull the chest down. If you didn’t have external obliques, your chest would just kind of be floating upward and you wouldn’t have the strength to hold it down. When you flex your abs and pull your chest forward, your external obliques are engaging to help out. 

Next, we have the internal obliques. You actually can’t see your internal obliques. It’s the job of the internal obliques to also help with forced respiration and help out the diaphragm. The internal obliques actually help you breathe better. The obliques play a role in how our diaphragm works and how our internal cavity is held together. And it’s important the obliques help with structuring and stabilizing

It’s important to mention that by training the obliques properly, this is going to enhance how your abs look, not the opposite. When the obliques are in shape, they actually make the mid-section look really good. 

Hormones and the Oblique Crunches

High levels of cortisol and high levels of stress in the body causes adipose tissue to store on the obliques. The quickest way to get rid a wide waist is to do some good dieting or intermittent fasting to shed the fat off the love handles. Many think it’s the added muscle that is making their waist look wide when in fact it’s the extra body fat.

Two Exercises to Work the Obliques

Wood Chopper

The Wood Chopper goes from up to down. When I do this exercise, I’m not using a heavy weight. I slightly bend my knees. I position my arms crossed over and engaging my obliques and serratus anterior. Perform the movement by rotating down towards the opposite knee. There’s a little bit of a squat while engaging the abs and engaging the obliques. What you don’t want to do during this exercise is crunch the abs. When you crunch the abs, you’re taking stress off the obliques. The goal here is to condition the obliques without a massive amount of weight. The internal obliques are only connected to fascia and ribs. So, they aren’t designed to have a heavy load on them. The external obliques ARE designed for heavier loads. 

Bicycle Crunches

It’s the good old bicycle oblique crunches. Even though simple, this is actually a great exercise for targeting the obliques. The trick to doing bicycle crunches is to do two crunches on the same side before switching to the other side. Crunching on the same side twice in a row gives your muscles a chance to get the elastic component of the muscle engaged before the retracting or contracting. So, you don’t want to just be alternating back and forth.

Once you start engaging the obliques by doing the oblique crunches the proper way (at least two reps at time per side before you alternate sides), you will start developing obliques that you need for a great looking mid-section. 

By strengthening the obliques, the right way, you will be able to….

  • Squat More
  • Plank Longer
  • Deadlift More 
  • Lift More
  • Burn More Fat

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