Your obliques -- both the internal and external -- run along the lower sides of your abdomen. Exercises targeting this area help create sleek, hourglass waistlines. Whether you're doing torso rotations or endless oblique reaches, keeping with a slow, rhythmic pace until your oblique muscles show signs of fatigue -- burning and tightness -- are keys to achieving success. Check with your doctor first if you're new to exercising or have a chronic health condition.
Use this standing exercise to target your obliques no matter where you're at. Begin with your legs spread to a shoulder-width distance and bring your arms up, bending them at the elbows. Flatten your hands and place them in front of you at chest level. Using your hips rotate your upper body to the left. Rotate as far as you comfortably can, pausing there, and then slowly returning to center. Repeat the movement, rotating to the left. Continue this pattern until you feel the stretch in your obliques.
A Pilate’s move, the oblique reach is a slow, core strengthening move that will help whittle your waist while toning the internal and external obliques. For this exercise, lie down on the floor with your knees bent and feet spread hip-width distance. Take one arm and place it under your head for support. Take the other arm and place it against the opposite hip while inhaling. As you exhale, bring your arm up and to its opposite knee, stretching your chest forward. Keep your palms flat and facing down, your tailbone on the floor and upper body from twisting. Return to start and repeat until you feel tightness in your obliques. Repeat on the opposite side.
Cross-Legged Oblique Crunches
You'll work the pelvic muscles while tightening the obliques when you cross your legs for an oblique crunch. Lie on the floor with your knees bent and arms crossed over the chest. Crossing your arms over the chest helps eliminate the urge to pull your shoulders and neck forward, causing neck strain. Place your legs shoulder-width apart and lift your left ankle, placing it over your right knee. Inhale, tighten your abs and lift your chest up. Keep your lower back on the floor as you twist your torso. Point your torso toward your knee without lifting far enough to make contact. Return your upper body to the start position and repeat, alternating sides until fatigued.
The Yoga pose Upward-Facing Dog can elongate the obliques. Start this move lying face down. Make sure the tops of your feet are pressed into the floor, your legs are stretched out and your arms are at your sides. As you inhale, sink your hands into the floor and straighten your arms. Push your torso up as you put weight on your hands. Your thighs will naturally lift, but keep them tight. Turn your quads in, and keep your arms straight and turned out. Lift your chest and look forward as you hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds. Exhale and release your upper body to the floor.
Having studied at two top Midwestern universities, Catherine Field holds degrees in professional writing and patient safety. Writing since 2000, Field has worked with regional newspapers while publishing fiction online. She conducts medical communication research at a Midwestern medical institution and is slated to write a book based on her research findings.