Performing a variety of abdominal exercises can help to tone and strengthen your obliques.
Technically intended for the lower back, the back extension machine can also be used to strengthen your oblique muscles, which run along the sides of your abdomen. Along with supporting your lower back, the obliques help your torso rotate to the left and right and also to bend in side-to-side movements. Strong obliques can lead to a greater range of motion, improved agility and increased stability.1.
Warm up by performing cardiovascular exercise for at least 10 minutes; training cold muscles can lead to injuries. Consider including activities such as running, cycling or jumping rope.2.
Adjust the back extension machine so that the top of the padding comes to the top of your hips. Stand sideways in the machine with your left hip resting against the padding. Stack your right foot and hip on top of the left.3.
Elongate your spine to maintain a straight back. Pull your abdominal muscles in toward your lower back, lift your chest and slide the shoulder blades down and away from your ears.4.
Cross your arms over your chest. Bend sideways at the waist and lower your left shoulder toward the ground. Stop bending when your upper body is parallel to the floor.5.
Hold the contraction for one count and lift your torso back up to starting position. Complete three sets of 12 repetitions.6.
Stretch your obliques after your strength training session. Stand tall with your abs engaged and shoulders sliding down your back. Reach your right arm up toward the ceiling as you bend at the waist and lean your torso toward the left; you should feel a stretch in the right side of your abdomen. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and repeat on the other side.
- Hold a weight plate against your chest for added resistance. The amount of weight should allow you to complete at least eight yet no more than 12 repetitions with proper form.
- Keep your torso straight while performing the side extensions to maintain proper posture and maximize muscle development. Avoid hunching forward or leaning backward.
- Discontinue the side extensions and seek medical attention if you feel any pain in your back.
- Consult with a physician before starting a new exercise program. Let your doctor know of any current injuries or illnesses that may interfere with your fitness program.