Obliques are like brains. Everybody has them, theoretically, but not everybody can prove it.
Showing obliques - and showing is the operative word - more than anything requires eating a
diet low in fat and moderate in total calories and keeping up the cardio. Combine that with
specific oblique training and the effect will be stunning - and de rigueur for body-building
Those with wide waists, however, may want to avoid specific oblique training with heavy
weights at the risk of developing a tree-trunk torso. For the rest of you, keep in mind that
these muscle fibers run diagonally across your waist, which is pretty much the angle you want
to be crunching to optimally work your obliques. Side-to-side bending exercises won't cut it.
Most pros who already have size in this area recommend higher reps and little, if any, added
After all, overdeveloping your obliques would be like choosing to distend your brain (and
enough people have swollen heads already). Here are a few insights into the training of
obliques correctly for optimal results from personal trainers around the world.
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"The most important thing is to limit the number of exercises and sets; otherwise, you'll
overly thicken your obliques and build up your waist," says George. "To really show the
midsection off, especially the obliques, you have to diet down and do a lot of cardio to peel
away the layers of bodyfat. In terms of exercises, right before a contest, I'll do regular
sit-ups and crunches, but I don't believe you need to crunch to the sides to bring out the
obliques. I do as many sets as I can to failure. I never look at my watch, but I usually go
for about 20 minutes. Really, though, the best exercise for obliques is aerobics."
"I don't focus on my obliques until just before a competition," Ralph explains. "Although I
do leg raises, most of my real oblique work is isometric. I bring my upper torso and hips
together and squeeze them. I'll keep the muscle contracted for at least 30 seconds for six
times. I do four sets of this, one side at a time. I don't use added weight because I don't
want to thicken my obliques. There isn't much muscle tissue there, so you can develop them
just before a show or when you decide to slim down. For the most part, you won't see great
definition in this area unless you're fairly lean in these areas unless you're fairly lean.
"Obliques have always been a strong area for me" Patrick notes. "One targeted exercise I like
is cross-body crunches with my back on the floor and feet on a bench. Keeping my hands on my
chest, I bring one shoulder to the opposite knee and then switch directions. I do three sets
of 20-30 reps. To see your obliques, you need to be lean."