Oblique Appeal


Forget the abs, it’s time to shine a light on some of the hardest working muscles in your body.

Abs have always been the superstars of the strength world. But although the muscles that form the elusive ‘6-pack’ are often the most visible part of your core, they are not necessarily the most important. The obliques are the muscles that frame the outside of your midsection, helping to stabilise your core and spine. They are vital for good posture, for functional strength, and for protecting against injury. What I am trying to say here is don’t neglect your obliques. They may not be as sexy as abs, but they are essential to great overall strength and wellbeing.

Try these simple bodyweight oblique exercises to fire things up in your core.

Side Crunch


Keep things simple with this modification of a classic move. Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor. Your knees should be bent and your arms by your sides. Now, rather than crunching straight up, crunch diagonally across to the right side before returning to your starting position. Repeat on the left side and continue this sequence for 10 reps. Build up to 3 sets of 10 reps as your stamina and strength improves.

Side Plank


This is a tough move but one with impressive results. Start on your side with your forearm bent and flat on the ground. Now, stack your feet on top of each other and squeeze your core to lift off the ground. The aim here is to keep a straight line from head to toe. Remember to keep your chest open as it is tempting to collapse in on yourself. Hold for 30 seconds (or as long as you can) and repeat for the same length of time on the opposite side.

Russian Twist


This is another classic move that looks simple but feels hard! Start on the floor with your knees bent and your heels on the ground. Now, keeping your back straight, lean back to create a 45-degree angle. Holding your hands in at the centre of your chest, slowly twist from left to right as far as you can control. To make this exercise more challenging, hover your feet above the ground as you twist or add weight. Try to do 15 reps or as many as you can complete with good form.

Front Plank – Knee to Elbow


This is an exercise for those who really want to push themselves. Make like a core expert with this plank variation. Start off in a traditional push-up position, with your hands stacked directly under your shoulders. Concentrate on creating a straight line from shoulder to heel. Now draw your right leg up and under you, as if you are trying to tap your right knee to your right elbow. Repeat on the left side and continue for 15 reps.

There you have it – obliques rock! Make these moves part of your next workout to really feel the oblique burn. Your core will thank you for it. Next week I am moving off the mat and into the kitchen with some spring salads that are going to inspire you to get chopping. Until then, stay amazing!