How to Trim Your Waistline by Working the Oblique Muscles

2 of 6 in Series: The Essentials of Day 5 of Your Ten-Minute Tone-Up

If getting trimming your waistline is a New Year’s resolution, you aren’t alone. Working the oblique muscles is sure to tone your waist quickly. However, many people do side bends with a weight in each hand. They swing side to side in an effort to slim the sides. This bending move is useless and in fact could build a wider waist. Throw it out!

This rotation exercise gives your obliques a superb workout.

  1. Lie on the floor on your back so that your knees are bent and your feet are flat on the floor.

    Your hands should be behind your head so that your fingers rest on the backs of your ears. Keep your elbows open and outward.

    Maintain an elongated spine throughout the exercise. Keep the chin up and your neck lengthened and
    Maintain an elongated spine throughout the exercise. Keep the chin up and your neck lengthened and straight.

    Your hands should be behind your head so that your fingers rest on the backs of your ears. Keep your elbows open and outward.

  2. Slowly lift your left shoulder up toward your right knee. Do not lift your knee up for this variation of the exercise. Contract your abdominals and then slowly return to start.

    Exhale as you lift your upper torso up and inhale as you return to start.
    Exhale as you lift your upper torso up and inhale as you return to start.

    Do five to ten repetitions on each side. As you progress, do 10 to 20 repetitions on each side.

    Exhale as you lift your upper torso up and inhale as you return to start.

    You may want to bend your elbow as you cross to the opposite side, but don't. Keep your elbows open and use the obliques to lift the shoulder.

Because doing oblique exercises properly can speed up your results, whereas doing them improperly can turn working out your waist into a waste of time, follow these tips:

  • Breathe properly: Exhale during the exertion part of an exercise. Usually, that’s the most difficult part of a move.

  • Use quality versus quantity: Somewhere along the way, fitness enthusiasts began to replace the quality of an oblique move with quantity. Somehow it became important to do hundreds of oblique repetitions with no attention given to proper form. It is far better to do 8 to 20 repetitions with the correct form that I describe than to do numerous but sloppy moves.

  • Lift from your obliques: When doing these side oblique exercises, don't lift from your neck. Doing so could cause injury and does absolutely nothing for your waistline. The lift comes from your obliques.

  • Keep your chin up: Keep your chin slightly up throughout oblique exercises to avoid neck injury. Imagine holding an orange under your chin during the moves to ensure proper form.

    Avoid thinking you can just zap them: As you embark on your awesome obliques journey, keep in mind that you cannot spot reduce. Shrinking your waist size is an attainable goal if, in addition to doing the exercises in this chapter, you maintain a healthy diet and include a cardiovascular activity in your routine.

  • Maintain a neutral spine: In past years, fitness experts harped at clients to push their backs into the floor during oblique moves. This was good advice in that it is harmful to arch the back during abdominal exercises. However, it does not allow for the natural curve of the spine. The best current advice is not to arch or flatten the back. It is safest to keep a small distance of about an inch and a half between your back and the floor, which varies slightly depending on what's comfortable for you.

Use the following variations to meet your fitness level:

  • Lift your legs: To make this exercise easier, lift your legs up so that they rest at a 90-degree angle on a sofa or stool. Complete the move as described.

  • Lift your knee: To add a bit of a challenge, simultaneously lift your opposite knee toward your shoulder.

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