Sometimes it feels like you’ll be doing ab crunches for the rest of your life, without hitting the parts of your core that you want to firm up. The fact is that crunches and situps just won’t make the muffin top go away. You need to target the obliques to firm up your flanks and tone the sides of your stomach. Combine twisting and bending exercises with a low-carb, fat-burning diet for best results.
Sit on the edge of a flat workout bench, keep your back straight and puff out your chest. Keep your knees and feet together, and hold two dumbbells in your hands with the ends pointing to the ceiling and the floor. Keep your elbows bent at 90 degrees, with the dumbbells just above your lap.
Twist slowly at the waist to the left, turning your upper body as far as it can go, and bring the dumbbells along. At the point where you’ve stretched to the left as far as you can go, hold yourself there for a moment, then slowly twist back to starting position. Twist to the right, mirroring the same motion, and go as far as you can. You’ll feel the tug on your obliques and flexors in the hip. Return to the original position. Both twists are one rep.
Do a few sets of 20 to 30 reps, resting for about one minute between sets. Go slow and stretch the oblique muscles as much as you can.
Stand with your feet at the width of your shoulders, hold a dumbbell in each hand, and let your arms hang at your sides.
Bend at the hip to your left side, letting the weight of the dumbbell carry you down at your side. Stretch as far as you can to your left side, then hold yourself there for a moment. You should feel your right side along the obliques to your hip tighten and pull.
Raise yourself back up slowly until you're upright. Stand upright for a moment, then repeat the motion, except bend to your right. Both sides equal one rep. Do one or two sets of 20 to 30 reps.
Weighted Opposite Foot Bends
Stand straight with your back flat and your chest out. Hold a weighted dumbbell in your left hand and let it hang at your side.
Bend at the waist and touch the dumbbell in your left hand to your right foot. Keep your legs as straight as possible. When you reach your right foot, hold the dumbbell there for a moment. You'll feel a pull along your left oblique.
Lift yourself back to upright position, switch the barbell to your right hand, and touch your left foot with it. Both bends are one rep. Do two sets of 10 to 15 reps.
- Getting Stronger: Weight Training for Men and Women; Bill Pearl
- Strength Training Anatomy; Frédéric Delavier
- Rest at least a full minute between sets. If you feel any pain in your sides, stop the exercise and do a little light stretching. If the stretching also causes pain, stop your workout and take a couple of days off to recover.
- Don't over-train. If you feel too sore after an ab workout, take the next day off to recover. Doing too much too quickly risks injury and can derail any momentum to your fitness goals. Consult your physician before beginning any new fitness program.
Bobby R. Goldsmith is a writer and editor with over 12 years of experience in journalism, marketing and academics. His work has been published by the Santa Fe Writers Project, "DASH Literary Journal," the "Inland Valley Daily Bulletin" and WiseGEEK.