Me and a Mat – Oblique Edition

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The sun has not shone for 40 days and 40 nights…

Okay, maybe closer to a week of dreary weather and on-and-off rain, but what’s the difference? In Charleston terms, that is an eternity when you’re used to seeing sunshine for at least a portion of the day. I also rarely get sick and the past two weeks I have been trying to fight off a sinus issue and congestion. With the sub-par weather conditions and my limited ability to breathe out of my nose, I will admit that I have been a home-body recently. My trips outside of the house have included a few trips to the gym, a trip to the grocery store, and probably a trip or two to grab Starbucks, but aside from that, I’ve been devoting most of my time to a box of tissues and Netflix Christmas movies. Has anyone else started watching Christmas movies and have their radios tuned to the local Christmas station?

Even though I’ve been cooped up in the house, doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten the importance of staying active and trying to strengthen my immune system! That being said, I’ve relied on my few pieces of home gym equipment more than usual! My free weights and exercise mat have allowed me to get a good exercise in without bringing my germs around others or feeling self-conscious about my faucet of a nose! Like I’ve said before, I definitely recommend having a few pieces of equipment for those days where you can’t or just don’t feel like going to the gym!

Next time you’re home and ready for a workout, try a combination of these oblique workouts!

What are obliques and why should they be trained?

Your obliques (comprised of the internal and external oblique) are the thin muscles that frame the sides of the abdominals and run from the hip up the rib cage. They have three primary functions which include lateral flexion (performed when the torso is bent sideways), rotation (when the torso is twisted), and flexion in rounding the spine (like during a sit-up).

Stronger oblique muscles translate to a handful of benefits for the body’s appearance, overall health, and function. Most people engage in oblique training to reduce fatty deposits on the hips, which are other-wise known as “love handles.” I don’t know about you, but the less “over-hang” I have over my bottoms, the better I feel about my body! Another benefit of this, and something people don’t often realize, is that by reducing extra fat build-up around the abdominals, a person’s chance of developing Type 2 Diabetes is lowered, as this disease is linked to excess fat build-up around the abdominal area. Having strong obliques also aids in core stabilization which is important for good posture and stabilization of your spinal column preventing back pain and injury. Training your obliques can also improve performance in physical activities that involve quick movement and twisting.

Beginner

Sit-Up to Twist

Start the Sit-up to Twist by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Your knees should be about hip-width apart. Place your hands behind your head and engage your core, lifting your torso to complete a full sit-up. At the top of the sit-up bring your right elbow to your left knee and twist your torso towards that side. Slowly lower back down to the starting position. Repeat this motion, switching sides each time for 1 minute. Repeat 3 times.

Tip: Keep it controlled. Keep your core engaged and avoid injury to your back by keeping a steady pace.

Oblique Side Sit-Up

Start the Oblique Side Sit-up exercise by kneeling then shift your weight to one side so that you are sitting to the side of your knees. If you aren’t using any weight, keep your arms folded across your chest. Engage your core, squeeze your glutes, and slowly rise up to kneeling position, keeping your arms to your chest. Sit back down to the same side. Perform this motion for a 30 second interval and immediately switch to the other side for another 30 seconds. Complete 3 sets.

Tip: You can make this exercise more challenging by holding a free weight or medicine ball.

Intermediate

Mountain Climbers

Start the Mountain Climber exercise in a traditional plank position with your shoulders stacked over your hands, with the majority of your weight focused back towards your toes. Engage your core and bring your right knee forward below your chest, with your toes just off the ground. Return to the basic plank position and do the same motion with your left knee. Keep switching legs and increase your pace as the movement becomes more familiar to you. Continue “running” in the position for 1 minute. Complete 3 sets.

Tip: Focus on keeping your back in a straight line and avoiding any arching.

Raised Side Plank with Hip-Dips

To position yourself for the Raised Side Plank with Hip-Dips, start by lying on one side, and lift your body into the air, balancing your weight on one arm, keeping your body in a straight line with your feet stacked on one another. Keep your hip lifted up towards the ceiling. Slowly lower your hip towards the ground until it barely touches your mat and bring it back up towards the ceiling. Complete 10 repetitions, holding the last rep for 15-20 seconds before dropping. Switch to the other side. Complete 3 sets for each side.

Tip: If you’re having a difficult time balancing yourself in the raised position, try a modified plank by balancing your weight on your elbow.

Spider-Man

Start the Spider-Man in a high plank position, hands stacked below your shoulders. Engage your core and bring our left knee around to your left elbow. Your movement should resemble a side crunch as your upper body turns into your knee. Continue the movement, alternating sides for 1 minute. Complete 3 sets.

Tip: To get the most out of this exercise focus on keeping your body in a straight line and keeping your backside down. Really engage your core!

Advanced

T-Rotation

Start the T-Rotation in push-up position, hands shoulder-length apart stacked underneath your shoulders and your body forming a straight line from your head to your heels. Shift your weight to your left arm and rotate your torso upwards and to the right so that your entire body is facing sideways. Pause for 3-5 seconds before reversing the movement and repeating on the other side. Do this for 1 minute. Complete 3 sets.

Tip: When in the “T” formation, make sure your chest and hips are as open to the ceiling as possible.

Break-Dancer

For the Break-dancer, start in push-up position, hands stacked shoulder-length apart underneath your shoulders and your body forming a straight line from your head to your heels. Slowly swing your right leg below your body and out to the side without bending your knee, hold for 1-2 seconds, then bring it back to push-up position. Repeat this motion with the left leg and continue to switch from right to left for 1 minute. Complete 3 sets.

Tip: Stay slow and controlled until you are familiar with the motion and able to speed up the exercise. Going too fast and performing the motion improperly could lead to injury.

V – Up

Position yourself for the V-up by lying face-up on your mat with your legs straight out in front of you and your arms straight above your head. In one fluid movement, simultaneously lift your torso as if you are trying to touch your toes. Lower your body to starting position. Do as many repetitions as possible in 1 minute. Complete 3 sets.

Tip: There are many variations to this exercise. If you are having a difficult time keeping your legs straight, try slightly bending your knees to start. Progress to straight legs when feel comfortable in doing so.

Remember, your abdominals require repetition and it is best to target certain muscles and be intentional with your workouts while also carrying out a clean diet.

Feel free to drop some of your favorite oblique exercises in the comments below!

Be Well,

Tori

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