Your six-pack, or your front abdominal wall, is just one aspect of toned abs. Are you familiar with your internal and external obliques? Your internal and external obliques run (for lack of a better word) obliquely to your front abdominal wall. They have various roles:
- Supporting your abdominal wall and lower back
- Assisting your lungs in exhaling forcefully
- Help in rotating and bending your trunk sideways
- Providing support in performing heavy squats and deadlifts
- Help in stabilizing your hips
- Helping improve your balance and posture
Try these four movement patterns that add strength and flexibility to your internal and external oblique muscles to enhance your movement capabilities.
- Begin in a high, prone plank position with your shoulders stacked over your elbows and wrists. Your body should form a strong, straight line from head to heels.
- Engage your core and reach your right hand under and across your torso to your left.
- Bring your right hand back across your torso and extend your arm out to the right, rotating your torso to extend your hand to the ceiling.
- Rotate back to your starting position. Place your right hand on the floor and repeat the movement with your left hand. Continue alternating for 10 reps per side.
- Tip: Keep your hips squared to the floor throughout the movement.
- Lie on your right side, using your right arm to support your head and neck.
- Place a block between your ankles or lower shinbones.
- Keep your knees slightly bent, or extend your legs straight for more of a challenge.
- Contract your obliques and lift both legs off the floor as high as possible. Repeat and then switch sides.
- Stand tall, engage your core and take a deep step back with your right foot.
- Extend your right arm up and reach overhead to your left.
- Lower your arm and step your right foot forward to return to the starting position, and repeat on your left side. Hold for at least 10 seconds per side.
- Lie on your back in a supine position with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Take your arms out to form a T with your upper body.
- Place your left ankle over your right knee.
- Drop your right knee down to your right, twisting through your hips. Keep your shoulders flat on the floor.
- Hold and then release and repeat on the opposite side.
Photo credit: FatCamera, Getty Images
GIFs: Tom Casey, box24studio.com
Model: Erica Johnson, 24 Hour Fitness