Resistance Exercises for the Exterior Obliques

Obliques stabilize your torso to improve your throwing power in sports such as soccer.

Obliques stabilize your torso to improve your throwing power in sports such as soccer.

Don't just work out your six pack. The external -- or exterior -- obliques are one such group that usually gets ignored. These muscles run diagonally from your lower five ribs into the middle of your six-pack muscle and upper pelvis, according to Human Kinetics. Resistance training for your external obliques will get you stronger abs that will give you leaner definition in your waistline.

Functional Anatomy

Contrary to what you may have heard at the gym, doing side bends and situps with rotation do not slim down your waistline or improve abdominal strength to help you lift better. Your external obliques work with your internal obliques and deep abdominal muscles to increase abdominal pressure to support your spine and ribs when you move. They also help move your trunk in different directions, like bending forward and back and side to side and turning left and right. If you want to get strong faster and burn more calories to give yourself better muscle definition, do full-body workouts that emphasize your obliques and other ab muscles.

Cable Machine Training

Any pulling or pushing exercises with a cable column machine work your obliques. From a standing position, you can do a variety of these exercises that provide a consistent resistance throughout the range of motion. By adjusting the height of the handles of the machine, you challenge your obliques to move from different angles of resistance. When you push or pull, your external obliques work with your diaphragm and transversus abdominis -- a deep ab muscle that wraps around your organs and spine like a corset -- to hold your torso and hip in place as you move your arms and shoulders. Sample exercises include chest press, rows, one-arm press or row and one-arm press or row with a torso twist. You can also do cable chops and lifts that work all muscles in your abs, hip and spine.

Resistance Tube Training

If you don't have access to a gym with the cable machine, you can do the same exercises with a resistance tube, which is a strong, elastic rubber tube with a handle attached to each end. You can work out with a partner by having that person hold the middle of the tube while you hold a handle in each hand and do pushing, pulling and chopping exercises. Get different resistance levels of tubing, which usually comes in light, medium and heavy.

Medicine Ball Training

Power up your workout with medicine ball training that will give you a cardio workout that rivals running and step aerobics. These include throwing exercises that work your obliques and other ab muscles at a higher intensity level, such as overhead throws, torso twist throws and chest passes. Use a lighter medicine ball -- between 2 to 6 pounds -- if you want to work on speed and endurance, the American College of Sports Medicine suggests. Use a heavier ball -- between 8 to 12 pounds -- if you want to work on power. If you new to any training method, work with a qualified fitness coach before training on your own.

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About the Author

Nick Ng has been writing fitness articles since 2003, focusing on injury prevention and exercise strategies. He has covered health for "MiaBella" magazine. Ng received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from San Diego State University in 2001 and has been a certified fitness coach with the National Academy of Sports Medicine since 2002.

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