Chances are when you think of an ab workout, you think of crunches for days on end. But there's so much more to working the core than just 20 different ways to say "crunch." On top of that, a strong core is essential for so much more than just rocking that latest ab-baring top like the UA Project Rock Armour Mid Crossback Printed Sports Bra ($45).
A strong core can help with posture, assist with runners' strength, and help prevent injury. An often-overlooked part of any core workout are the obliques.
"Obliques are responsible for rotation of the spine and any movement in the transverse plane," said NASM-certified personal trainer and cofounder of Grassroots Fitness Project Heather Gunn Rivera. "We mainly work out in the sagittal plane, but we live mostly in the transverse. So it's important to be strong in the transverse, so that we are 'functionally fit.'" Translation: we spend a lot of time working out longitudinally, but not so much horizontally. Challenging those obliques engages a different part of the body that we can't forget!
Ready to work those obliques? Rivera shared a quick workout that gets your obliques fired up in the best way possible.
- Lie on one side with your legs stacked on top of each other.
- Put your forearm underneath you, and lift your hips off the ground and hold.
- Don't let your hips sag or your shoulder shrug to your ear while you hold.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- From a seated position, recline back as much as you can while keeping an erect spine with your knees bent.
- Place your hands on top of each other with elbows out to the side.
- Rotate your spine to the left, trying to touch the elbow to the ground and switch to do the same on the other side.
Hanging Oblique Knee-Ups
- Hang from a bar, and press your shoulders away from your ears.
- Hold this position and rotate your right hip forward, and try to crunch your hip up to the bottom of your rib. Repeat trying to crunch to your left side.
Don't have access to a pull-up bar? No problem — try these instead.
- Lie on your back, and hold under your couch.
- Lift your legs up while keeping them together and straight to form a "candlestick." Imagine your body coming up to a shoulder stand.
- Lower your body back down to the ground, keeping it flat as a board. Think about reaching your feet away from you to the opposite side of the room while keeping your body stiff and moving slow.
- To modify, bend your knees.
Elbow Plank Twists
- Hold an elbow plank.
- Twist from your hips to touch the ground with your right hip and then your left. Think about lifting your hips up and over as you switch sides.
- Keep alternating for 10-20 reps or one minute.
Rivera said for bodyweight exercises, complete as many reps as you can keeping good form. Once it starts to feel difficult, complete five more for three to four rounds.