Often known as the "llantitas", your Obliques are the abdominal muscles located on the sides of your stomach. You use them to flex and rotate the trunk while you move along your daily activities. The stronger these muscles are, the easier it is to complete your daily tasks. Toned sides add and improve your body's posture.
You have left and right oblique muscles, external and internal. The external obliques are close to the surface and you feel the muscles placing your hand on the sides of your stomach. The internal obliques are below the external obliques. Both pairs of muscles work together to flex and rotate your torso. When you turn in your chair to look over your shoulder, your obliques contract for your body to turn.
Your obliques are strengthened in several positions. Dr. Peter Francis of the Biomechanics Laboratory at the University of San Diego studied 13 different abdominal exercises and found that the power tower produced the highest muscle activity of the obliques. Perform this exercise from a standing position in a high chair. Place your elbows on the arms of the chair and your back against the pad. Your body rests on your arms and your feet hang under your straight legs. Do the exercise by bending your knees and lifting your legs to your chest.
A side curve is an exercise that can be done while sitting. This exercise uses hand weights to add resistance. While you are sitting, hold a weight in each hand with your arms extended to the sides of your body. Make the curve by sitting straight and then lean to the right, as if you were going to put your weight on the ground. Squeeze the stomach when returning to the vertical position and then complete the curve to the left.
You can also train the obliques with a supine position. Dr. Peter Francis found in the bicycle maneuver an effective oblique toning exercise. Lie on your back with your knees bent, your feet on the floor and your hands behind your head. Begin the exercise by raising both feet off the ground and extending the right leg away from your body. Make the oblique turn by bringing the left knee close to your chest and pointing your right elbow towards it. The maneuver of the bicycle continues as you alternate the knees with the opposite elbows.
Oblique toning exercises add to your daily training routine. Dr. Peter Francis recommends five minutes of stomach strengthening exercises. Perform each exercise 10 to 15 times, rest and repeat two or three series. Strong obliques improve your posture and the appearance of your stomach.You may feel other benefits such as reducing back pain.