The Best Exercises To Strengthen Oblique Muscles

A lot of focus is placed on training abdominals with crunches and planks, but many people forget the neighboring oblique muscles. Move beyond the same old side planks and bicycle crunches! These tips from Bodyspace members show you how to train your whole core.

Best Oblique Exercises for Strength, Power, and Function

Dumbbell or Barbell Side Bend

Stand up straight holding a weight in one hand or a barbell behind your shoulders. Bend only at the waist to the side as far as possible. Hold for a second and come back up to the starting position.

Medicine Ball Rotational Throw

Stand a few feet away from a wall with your shoulder facing the wall. Holding a medicine ball, twist your torso powerfully in order to throw it against the wall. Catch it when it comes back to you and repeat.

Decline Oblique Crunches

Lay back on a decline bench. Raise your upper body and put one hand beside your head and the other on your thigh. Continue to raise your upper body while turning your torso to the side. Lower back down. Do all the reps for one side, then switch sides.

Plate Twist

Sit with your legs slightly bent, crossed near the ankles and lifted off the ground. Hold a plate in front of your abdominals with your arms bent. Move the plate to the side and touch the floor with it. Come back up and repeat on the other side.

Best Oblique Exercises For Strengthening Your Core & Maintaining A Small Waist

Push-Up to Side Plank

Do a push-up. At the top, twist into a side plank, raising the top arm. Lower your arm and do another push-up, then twist up to a side plank on the other side.

Seated Barbell Twist

Sit at the end of a flat bench. Rest a barbell behind your head along the base of your neck. While keeping your feet and head stationary, twist your waist from side to side.

Side Jackknife

Lying on your side, clasp your upper hand behind your head. Bring your torso and upper leg toward each other, pulling with your obliques. Squeeze for a moment at the top and return to the starting position. Do all the reps for one side, then switch sides.

Training Tips from the Winners

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When people think of abs, they think of the rectus abdominus, the muscle that, in combination with dieting and resistance training, creates the six-pack. The oblique muscles, which run up and down our sides, are usually overlooked. These muscles serve as stabilizers, and are engaged in almost every compound lifting movement, and almost every physical activity. It is extremely important that they are strong.

Many bodybuilders on the other hand have small waists tapered down from their lats. This achieves the appearance of a “V” shape and it is sought after in the bodybuilding world. While bodybuilders have strong obliques, focusing on strengthening exercises will not cause you to add muscle to the point point where you ruin your V-taper. In fact, building stronger obliques can be immensely beneficial to your training and overall health.

Many people who lift seriously might assume that they hit their obliques hard enough when they do heavy deadlifts or squats. Additional training, could, however, work to improve the form of your lift, and even help to increase the amount of weight you can lift.

Rules for oblique training:

  • Do not do abs or obliques before heavy lifting, because it could compromise your form on the big lifts.
  • Oblique exercises that require more weight should be done for fewer reps, while movements like crunches do not require weight are suitable for higher reps.

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Other than perhaps “Arnold,” the two syllables most frequently associated with being in excellent shape are “six-pack.”

Often, beginners are lured into the gym with dreams of arms and abs, and some can be so obsessed with maintaining a visible set of abdominal muscles that they fail to make progress anywhere else. But even with this ab obsession, many still fail to train their obliques effectively, which not only holds back their quest for attractive abs, but their overall strength and physique.

Probably the biggest misconception about ab training in general, is that the key to success is volume. Sadly, people fail to understand that abs are muscles just like all the others you train in the gym, and the same rules apply. You wouldn’t do 300 sets of bench press and try to train your chest every day, so why should you do that many crunches?

Well here’s the secret: You shouldn’t. For this reason, I do direct ab training at most twice per week. If you’re performing compound lifts such as deadlifts and squats, your abdominals and obliques are already getting plenty of stimulation from those as well. You’ll find greater success relying on weighted ab work performed just a few times per week rather than unweighted ab work performed daily.

Here is a routine I’ve used that has resulted in significant oblique development.

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This circuit can be repeated as many times as you want, but my personal feeling is that anything more than four times through is probably excessive. This is a solid routine because it does not require cable equipment or other machinery that most probably don’t have.

Any weighted object can be used for the V-Ups, Russian Twists and Side Bends, and it is easy to progress in this routine by bumping up the weight or number of rounds you perform.

Additionally, you can squeeze each circuit in between a few laps on the track or before and after your cardio to maximize efficiency.

However, high volume and high frequency isn’t the way to go. A couple of weighted sessions per week is all you really need. Trust me: Once you begin training your abs like your other muscles, they will begin developing like them.

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We all keep hearing how important core strength is, so why do so many people skip their obliques? Are they really that important to train? Yes, they are, but you have to do it right.

I suggest training your obliques no more than once a week, and there’s no need to use heavy weight. Higher reps is the way to go. Your put these muscles to use all the time to stabilize your frame, and surely you don’t want your daily activities or other training to suffer because you trained too hard. In this case, less is more.

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Toss these exercises into your normal abs or core workout. Or, you can do them after exercising another muscle group. If you work your obliques at the end of a workout, they won’t be exhausted for other exercises where they are crucial for good form.

Just a warning: Strengthening often comes with gains in size as well. With the obliques being on the outer ranges of your waist, this can mean a thicker waist. For the bodybuilder concerned mainly about an aesthetically pleasing physique, this is not always a goal one would strive for. So train them within reason!

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Your “side muscles” are called your obliques, and they are responsible for twisting movements and stabilizing your abdominals. Toning the obliques will give you a leaner, more upright look and will narrow your waist. If you are only looking to tighten and tone, work your obliques three days per week. If you are looking to build muscle, work them twice per week, but use variations like weights and inclines to make each move more difficult.

Do the bicycle maneuver. Lay on your back with your knees bent and your hands behind your head. Contract your abs to lift your head and shoulders from the floor, and touch your elbow to the opposite knee. Repeat on the other side, keeping your head and shoulders off the floor. Repeat until your form fails, being sure to keep your elbows wide.

Do a set of side planks. Lay on your side, supported on your elbow with your hips square and your legs stacked. Contract your abdominal muscles to raise your hips off the ground until your body forms a straight line and only your forearm and bottom foot are touching the ground. Repeat until your form fails, and then switch sides.

Grab an exercise ball to perform stability ball knee tucks. Lay face down on top of the ball, planting your hands on the floor to brace yourself. Walk forward with your hands until your knees are on top of the ball. Contract your abs and bring your knees toward your chest to roll the ball toward you until you are in a tucked position on top of the ball. Slowly roll back out to the starting position. Repeat until your form fails.

Exchange the exercise ball for a medicine ball to perform medicine ball trunk rotations. Sit on the floor with your legs in front of you. Bend your knees to a 45-degree angle, and keep your heels on the floor. Keeping your back straight, hold the medicine ball in front of you and rotate your body from the waist, right and left. To make it harder, touch the medicine ball to the floor on each side. To make it even harder, try balancing on your tailbone and using your abs to keep your legs in the air. Keep the medicine ball directly in front of your chest — do not reach with your arms. Repeat, alternating sides, until your form fails.

Grab a broomstick to perform the broomstick twist. Sit on a sturdy chair or bench and lay a broomstick across your shoulders and behind your head. Reach your arms up behind the stick, extend your arms, and grasp the stick. Rotate your torso back and forth from the waist, keeping your abs tight. Start slowly, and gradually build up speed until your form fails. Be sure to keep your spine straight and your abs tight.


Doing each exercise until your form fails is the only way to ensure new muscle growth. A predetermined number of repetitions may not work your muscles to their full potential.

Combine these exercises with a balanced, calorie-controlled diet. Excess fat will keep you from seeing the results of your hard work.


Make sure you keep your spine erect and your chin up during all of these exercises to avoid lower back injury.

The Best Exercises That Work Your Lower Abs

If there’s one thing everyone can agree on, it’s that lower belly fat is the worst. Sadly, getting the six-pack you’ve always wanted isn’t as easy as performing tons of crunches. For one thing, seeing such definition means you can’t be carrying around excess weight. That means you need to do some cardio. Even then, you’ll also need to train your lower abdominal muscles. HuffPost says the best way to sculpt those lower abs is by doing exercises that move your legs, hip flexors, and lower abdomen. Get started with these six exercises.

1. Mountain climber

Mountain climbers are great for the lower abs. |

Begin in a plank position, palms on the ground and arms straight out in front of you, right underneath your shoulders. Your legs should be extended in a straight line. Keeping your back flat and your arms in the same position throughout, quickly tuck your right knee toward your chest, then jump it back to the ground as you simultaneously pull your left leg toward your chest. Repeat quickly as many times as possible.

2. Lying leg raise

Leg raises really target this area. | says to start this exercise by lying flat on your back with your hands underneath your glutes, palms down, and legs extended straight out in front of you. Lift your legs slowly off the floor until they’re perpendicular to the ground. Hold for a second, then bring them back down to the floor. To increase the challenge, don’t let your feet touch the ground in between reps.

Just be a little wary if you have a bad back. If that’s the case, these moves might be better options.

3. Scissors

This exercise is a tough one. | Kaczmarek

This move is similar to the lying leg raise, except you’ll be lifting one leg at a time. Real Simple says to lie on your back with both of your legs lifted so they’re perpendicular to the ground. With both your head and shoulder blades lifted off the ground, bring your right leg down until it’s about six inches from the floor as you gently pull your left leg toward your body. Switch sides for one rep and repeat 10 times.

4. Dead bug

The dead bug is one of the best ab exercises. |

Men’s Health explains one reason this exercise is so effective is because it works your abs while stabilizing your spine. This prevents you from flexing your lower back, which ensures proper form.

Muscle & Fitness says to start this move on your back with your arms at your sides. Lift your legs off the ground and bend your knees so they create a 90-degree angle. Then, extend your right leg forward until it’s a few inches from the floor while extending your left arm straight behind you. Bring them back to starting position and repeat with the opposite arm and leg.

5. Reverse crunch

Reverse crunches target the lower abs. |

More effective for your lower abs than just the average crunch, reverse crunches deserve to become part of your routine. Men’s Health has a great tutorial that shows you’ll start by lying on your back, legs raised with knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Then, lift your lower back off the floor as you tuck your pelvis toward your belly button. Instead of relying on momentum by kicking your legs, keep it controlled so your abs do the work. Bring your body back down to the floor with the same control and repeat 10 times.

6. Bird dog crunch

This move provides a full upper body workout. |

This move not only works your lower abs, but is also a great arm workout. To begin, Self says to start on all fours in tabletop position. Your hands should be underneath your shoulders and your knees should be below your hips. Next, extend your right arm forward and your left leg back until they’re both parallel to the ground. Now, tighten your core and bring both your arm and leg in toward your body until your elbow and knee just about touch. Extend back out for one rep and repeat until you’ve completed a full set. After one set, switch sides.

Want a better-looking mid-section? Train the obliques. In this article, I cover the best science-based oblique workout so that you can do just that, optimally.

One of the biggest mistakes people make with their core training is overlooking the obliques and failing to realize their importance towards contributing to a well-developed midsection.

Based on the orientation of the obliques and the way their fibers run, they can help visually taper and narrow your waistline. They can also add more cuts to your midsection. Given that they’re well developed and you’re at a low enough body fat percentage, of course.

It would, therefore, be in your best interest to start incorporating a well-planned oblique workout into your training plan. But to train and develop them most effectively, we need to first understand their function and anatomy.

Function And Anatomy of The Obliques

The obliques run down the sides of the abdominals and are composed of two muscles:

  1. External obliques
  2. Internal obliques (located directly under the external obliques)

But these two muscles have very similar functions. For simplicity’s sake, you can just think of the internal and external obliques as one single muscle.

And its main functions include:

  • Spinal flexion as you do in a sit-up.
  • Lateral flexion, or in other words just a side bend.
  • The rotation of your torso.

But the obliques also actually have 2 lesser-known functions that most people overlook.

  • It assists in the posterior pelvic tilt and tucking the ribs down and in.
  • And it also assists in drawing in your abdomen by bringing the belly button in towards the spine.

Research (posterior pelvic tilt and abdominal drawing in) shows that by implementing these two additional functions of the obliques during your oblique workout, you’re able to achieve even greater activation.

Therefore, we can then train and develop the obliques in the most effective manner by ensuring two things in an oblique workout:

  1. Choosing exercises that incorporate all the previously mentioned functions of the obliques,
  2. and also work in line with the diagonal orientation that their fibers run.

Best Oblique Exercises To Include In An Oblique Workout

One of the best oblique ab exercises to start your oblique ab workout is the high to low cable woodchoppers. It’s a great option as it enables us to apply weighted resistance directly in line with the diagonal way the oblique fibers run.

Including at least one weighted movement into your oblique workout is something I’d recommend. This is because as I’ve mentioned in past videos, the abs and obliques are just like any other muscle. And they can and should be overloaded with weight overtime to optimally shape and develop them.

How To Perform The High To Low Cable Woodchoppers

Now, to properly perform this exercise:

  1. Set up a cable to above shoulder height.
  2. Grab the handles with an interlocked grip, and take a sideways step away from the cable.
  3. Draw in your abdomen to pre-activate your obliques. You can do so by exhaling and thinking about moving your belly button into your spine.
  4. Then, keep your arms extended and your elbows locked. At the same time, use one side of your obliques to rotate your torso down and across your body towards the opposite knee.

The key here is to focus on the rotational aspect of the movement. You should minimize the use of your arms muscles by keeping your elbow position locked, rather than bending and extending them or swinging the weight down with your arms. When done properly, you should feel a strong contraction corresponding to the side of the obliques that you’re pulling towards.

And for this exercise, you’ll want to implement a lower rep range of roughly 10-15 reps. You can then continue to add more weight as this rep range becomes easier over time.

2) Bicycle Crunch

The next exercise you should include in your oblique workout is the bicycle crunch. These oblique crunches enable you to further work the obliques, and the abdominals, with just the use of your body weight. Although research data on the obliques is lacking, this exercise does successfully incorporate the many movement patterns of the obliques.

And EMG analyses have also shown it to elicit quite high obliques activation when compared to other exercises as well. A definite must-have in any oblique workout.

How To Set Up For The Bicycle Crunch

To maximize the effectiveness of this exercise for the obliques, we need to ensure that we’re implementing all of the obliques functions as we perform it.

And we can do so by doing two things before we start our reps:

  1. Move into posterior pelvic tilt. Your lower back should be flattened against the ground and your ribs are tucked down.
  2. Draw in your abdomen by exhaling and bringing your belly button in towards your spine. At this point, you may already feel a strong contraction in your obliques.

From here, we can now transition to doing the bicycle crunch. You should still maintain that posterior pelvic tilt and keep the abdominals drawn in. Doing so is going to make a huge difference in your ability to activate the obliques during this movement.

How To Perform The Bicycle Crunch

And in terms of exercise execution, don’t do what most people do. Don’t just try to touch your elbow to your knee as this just ends up in form compensations.

Instead, remember what the obliques’ functions are. Put your focus on simply crunching to the one side while rotating your torso.

Ignore where your elbows and knees end up and instead, just go as far as you’re capable of to each side while still actually feeling the obliques working during each rep.

And for this exercise, you should definitely use a much higher rep range of over 15 reps per side for example. But the key, as always, is to focus more on the contraction. And you should end your set based on the fatigue of your obliques and abs, rather than on aiming to accomplish a certain amount of reps.

3) Twisting Leg Raise

Next, we’re going to move onto twisting leg raises. This is one of the most crucial oblique ab exercises not to be missed in an oblique workout. Take note that the traditional leg raise with no twist has actually been shown in a few EMG analyses to already provide superior obliques activation, when compared to other common core exercises, and is, therefore, a great choice.

How To Perform The Twisting Leg Raise

To make the movement emphasize the obliques even more though, we can simply incorporate a twist into each rep as you come up. This will now incorporate lateral flexion and rotation of the torso into the movement, so you can better activate the obliques.

But again, when it comes to how to get v cut abs, it’s vital that you don’t forget to incorporate the two additional functions of the obliques. You can do so by moving into the posterior pelvic tilt and drawing in the abdomen before you start your reps.

And although this exercise is quite difficult for most people to do hanging, there’s plenty of ways to regress it.

I’d suggest first performing these as lying leg raises with a twist on the floor.

Then, progress to doing them on the Captain’s Chair, and to doing them hanging with bent knees.

You’ll eventually hang with your legs straightened out. Doing so will ensure that you’re increasing the demand placed on your obliques as they develop and strengthen over time.

And due to the difficulty of this exercise, a rep range of anywhere between 10-20 reps is ideal. But again, the focus needs to be on controlling and actively using your obliques every single rep.

The Best Science-Based Oblique Workout

As for frequency and number of sets recommendations for these movements in an oblique workout, I’d recommend throwing 3-4 sets of each of these into your current ab training. And as for your abs training, you should be doing them once to even 4 times a week, depending on how much volume you’re doing during each session.

So, for example, if I was doing 3 relatively shorter ab workouts per week, I would throw in 3 sets of one of these v cut abs exercises into each of those ab workouts.

In any case, though, try out these movements and figure out which works best for you. You can then implement them in your v cut abs workout according to the guidelines I went through. Doing so will make a significant improvement in your obliques development. You shouldn’t forget about developing your lower abs, too!

But keep in mind that picking the right core exercises to do in your oblique workout is just one part of the equation. Dialing in your nutrition and eating the right amount and types of foods are really the key to leaning down and defining that mid-section. For a step-by-step program that shows you exactly how to train and how to set up your nutrition to transform your body with science:

Click the button below to take my analysis quiz to discover the best program for you:

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful! Don’t forget to give me a follow and connect with me on Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube as well, in order to stay up to date with my content.

And a huge shoutout to this incredible transformation of the week by Shahril, who managed to completely transform his body, in just 9 months on the program!

By the way, here’s the article summed up into a YouTube video:

The Best Science-Based Oblique Workout For V-Cut Abs

36 Things to Do Today for a Flat Belly

There’s no shortage of flat belly advice these days, and it can be downright paralyzing. If you manage to motivate yourself to lose weight, it’s hard to know what to do first to reach your goal—until now. To help you start on a path toward flat abs and quick weight loss, our research team tracked down the best tips on the planet and prioritized everything into the step-by-step weight loss guide. The first two steps are to make over your home and kitchen, starting with replacing unhealthy foods with Zero Belly-approved eats. Then, read up the best fitness hacks for turning your beer belly into a solid six-pack. Follow the plan to avoid feeling overwhelmed and see the best possible results. And to really make a change, see the 14 Ways to Lose Your Belly in 14 Days.

RELATED: 150+ recipe ideas that get you lean for life.

Make Over Your Home

“Whether you have ten pounds to lose or 100, the first thing you should do is create an environment for success,” says Chris Powell, Extreme Weight Loss trainer. These are the 10 things you need to do to up your odds of weight loss success.


Curb Your Sweet Tooth

Out of sight, out of mouth? Simply reorganizing your pantry’s “top hits” could translate into serious sugar savings, according to researchers at Google. The study, dubbed “Project M&M,” found that storing chocolate candies in opaque containers as opposed to glass ones help curb M&M consumption by 3.1 million calories in just seven weeks. In the study, they also gave healthier snacks more prominent shelf space. A similar study published in the Journal of Marketing found that people are more likely to overeat small treats from transparent packages than from opaque ones. For more sugar-curbing tips, grab a copy of The 14-Day No-Sugar Diet.


Sleep in a Cold Room

Simply blasting the air conditioner or turning down the heat in the winter may help attack belly fat while we sleep, according to a study in the journal Diabetes. As it turns out, colder temps can subtly enhance the effectiveness of your brown fat stores, which keep you warm by helping your burn through belly fat. Participants spent a few weeks sleeping in bedrooms with varying temperatures: a neutral 75 degrees, a cool 66 degrees, and a balmy 81 degrees. After four weeks of sleeping at 66 degrees, the participants had almost doubled their volumes of brown fat.


Increase Your Load

If you can do more than five reps of an exercise, pick up a heavier weight. As you build muscles and your body gets stronger, you can increase your load to challenge your body. It’s particularly important to work larger muscle groups, like your glutes, with a heavier weight. “This will burn fat, in the belly and other areas, quicker than any ab exercise.”


Ditch Your Night Light

Exposure to light at night doesn’t just interrupt your chances of a great night’s sleep, it may result in weight gain, according to a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Study subjects who slept in the darkest rooms were 21 percent less likely to be obese than those sleeping in the lightest rooms. For more ways to lose weight, check out these ways to flatten your belly!


Stock Up on Healthy Foods

Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, found that you can estimate how much someone weighs by taking a photo of their kitchen counter. After analyzing photos of 200 kitchens, he found that women who have soda sitting on their countertops weigh an average 26 pounds more while those who have cookies weigh about eight pounds more. The biggest surprise: Keeping cereal on your counter leads to an additional 20 pounds of body weight. The lesson here is to clean empty calories off your countertops to start losing weight.


Make Fruits and Veggies Accessible

Replace your candy and cookie jars on the kitchen counter with a bowl of fresh fruits and containers of nuts. Stock your fridge with chopped veggies and hummus for a quick and healthy snack. This way they’re more readily available, and you have no excuses to grab a bag of chips, right? Katie Cavuto, MS, RD, the dietitian to the Philadelphia Phillies and Flyers, likes having washed and prepared cucumbers, peppers, sugar snap peas, and carrots in the front of the fridge so they aren’t overlooked. Bananas, apples, pears and oranges fare well as sweet snacks and should be kept on the counter where you can see them. To discover more healthy foods that will help you lose weight, check out these best foods for muscle definition.


Keep Electronics Out of the Bedroom

Is scrolling through an Instagram black hole costing you zzz’s? It might be the reason you can’t shake those love handles. In a recent study, researchers analyzed more than 500 participants’ weekday sleep diaries and found that losing a mere 30 minutes of shut-eye increased their risk of obesity by 17 percent!


Read Ingredient Lists

Reading the nutrition label of packaged foods is important, but you also want to carefully review the ingredients list. While the nutrition label will tell you how many calories and grams of fat and sugar are in the food, the ingredients list will tell you what’s exactly in it. Ask yourself: Does it have processed oils? What is the source of the sugar content? Are there food additives?


Throw Out Jelly & Jam

Your breakfast toast won’t miss these sugar-laden spreads when you start to shed pounds and notice a flatter belly. One tablespoon of jam easily carries just under 10 grams of sugar. And let’s be honest, who just has one? Top peanut butter sandwiches with fresh pieces of fruit, like banana and strawberry slices to infuse it with some natural sweetness. This tactic will help ward off blood-sugar fluctuations that can cause insulin spikes and put hunger into overdrive.


Skip Sugary Cereal

There’s no sugar-coating it: Sugar wreaks havoc on the body. Consuming too much of the white stuff can lead to obesity, which often causes other health problems, like diabetes and heart disease. Many unhealthy breakfast cereals pack more sugar into one bowl than you’ll find in a Boston Kreme donut! To make matters worse, many popular varieties like Frosted Flakes and Fruity Pebbles are laced with Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) or BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole). These ingredients are banned in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Japan and much of Europe because they are thought to be carcinogenic.


Sayonara Soda

“Soda, both diet and regular, have absolutely no nutritional benefits and may even have serious health implications,” says Gina Consalvo, MA, RD, LDN, a Pennsylvania-based registered dietitian. “Not only are they loaded with empty calories, harmful preservatives, sugar or artificial sweeteners, they also have dangerous artificial coloring derived from coal sources,” explains Consalvo. But that’s not even the worst part. “To prevent mold growth in the cans and bottles, makers add the preservative potassium benzoate (a known carcinogen linked to thyroid damage, leukemia and other cancers) into the cans.” Consalvo suggests eliminating soda and drinking water, seltzer or detox tea instead.


Forgo White Carbs

Many of us grew up eating white bread and bagels, so we understand why they may hold a special place in your heart. But these starchy grains (and things like white rice and pretzels) are anything but healthy. Made with enriched flour instead of healthy whole grains, they’re void of the belly-filling fiber that boosts satiety and keeps blood sugar stable. What’s worse, refined white-flour foods like these are linked to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Plus, they lead to weight gain and make it more difficult to lose weight, too. For more ways to get the slim body you crave, check out these ways to lose 10 pounds—fast.


Kick Processed Snacks to the Curb

Processed snacks filled with saturated fats, sugar, refined grains and harmful chemicals. It’s no wonder they’re some of the biggest weight-loss saboteurs! To discover the worst snacks for weight loss in the supermarket, check out these unhealthiest foods on the planet.


Ditch the Margarine

You know that light yellow color that makes margarine look almost indistinguishable from butter when laid side by side? Well, it’s far from natural. In fact, without all the additives, margarine is actually an appetite-crushing shade of grey—yuck! As if that weren’t bad enough, many brands add propylene glycol, a synthetic compound, to their recipe to add grease without adding calories. Research has shown that the spread may expand your waistline, increase dangerous cholesterol levels and up your heart disease risk.


Limit Chewing Gum

Chewing gum when you’re hungry fills your tummy with extra air, causing bloat. Many gums also contain sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners, like sorbitol and xylitol, which can lead to bloating. Skip the gum altogether or opt for an organic variety like Glee gum or Simply gum instead. They’re still low-cal, but they don’t use sweeteners that’ll make you puff up.


Stock Up Your Kitchen

After you’ve gotten rid of the weight loss saboteurs, it’s time to restock your shelves with Zero Belly-approved eats. All of the foods below will reduce bloat, heal your gut and turbocharge your metabolism. These three mechanisms work in tandem to turn off your fat genes—resetting your body to “slender.”


Stock Up on Smoothie Ingredients

Zero Belly Smoothies are supercharged with belly-flattening nutrients. The key: Each drink is packed with protein, healthy fats and fiber. Here’s the Mango Muscle-Up: Mix 1 scoop vegetarian protein powder, 2/3 cup frozen mango chunks, 1/2 tablespoon almond butter, and ½ cup unsweetened almond, coconut or hemp milk. You’ll get 29 grams of protein for just 224 calories!


Shop for Eggs

Eggs are the number one source of choline, a fat-burning nutrient. They fire up your metabolism and help turn off the genes for belly fat storage. In a study of 21 men in the journal Nutrition Research, half of the men were fed a breakfast of bagels while the other half ate eggs. The egg group had a lower response to ghrelin and were less hungry three hours later. They also consumed fewer calories for the next 24 hours! And speaking of belly fat, lose more of it with the help of these ways to lose belly fat.


Favor Red Fruits

More and more research has begun to show that some fruits are actually better at fighting belly fat than others. And the better fruits all have one thing in common: They’re red, or at least reddish. Grapefruit, tart cherries, pink lady apples, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon, and peaches all fit the bill and can help flatten your belly.


Pack in Prebiotics

You have 80 trillion microbes in your belly, and most of them are angry. Healthy fiber is what we call “prebiotic,” meaning it feeds the healthy bacteria and helps them fight inflammation and fat gain. Fiber-rich sources of carbs are BPA-free canned black and garbanzo beans, peas, peanuts, peanut butter, old-fashioned oats, quinoa and brown rice. Looking for tasty ways to enjoy your oatmeal? Check out these overnight oats recipes!


Opt for Plant Protein

Plant-based protein powders are a low-sugar, high-fiber alternative to popular dairy-based supplements, which can lead to bloating. Hemp, rice and pea proteins are all good options; however, you’ll want to ensure you’re getting complete proteins with a full amino acid profile, so aim to find a protein powder blend that combines all three. We like Vega One All-in-One Nutritional Shake and Sunwarrior Warrior Blend. Whip up any of these best protein shake recipes to reap the benefits. Even if they call for whey protein, you can sub-in your plant-based favorite.


Go for Lean Meat & Fish

Protein is kryptonite to belly fat. When you eat protein, your body has to expend a lot of calories in digestion—about 25 calories for every 100 calories you eat (compared with only 10 to 15 calories for fats and carbs). With that said, stock your kitchen with boneless skinless chicken breast, lean ground turkey, lean beef, lamb, wild salmon, shrimp, scallops, cod, tuna, and halibut.


Glorify Your Greens

Leafy greens give you folate, which blocks the genes that trigger fat-cell formation. Romaine lettuce, spinach, and collard greens are some of the most potent sources of the flat-belly nutrient. For more ways to supercharge your weight loss, check out these best ways to boost your metabolism.


Indulge in Dark Chocolate

It’s every chocoholic’s dream: Research now shows that eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate can reduce overall body fat and shrink the waist. A study among women with normal weight obesity (skinny fat syndrome) who enjoyed two servings of dark chocolate daily showed a significant reduction in waist size than when on a cocoa-free meal plan.

Researchers say it has to do with the flavonoids, the heart-healthy compounds in chocolate, that have important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Just be sure you’re reaching for a bar with at least 70 percent cacao, and stay away from the “alkalized” stuff, which has a significantly reduced flavonoid content. We like Nibmor Extreme Dark Chocolate with Cacao Nibs.


Sip Some Tea

You know all that soda we told you to throw out? Use all that money saved to re-stock your kitchen with tea. Tea is the closest thing we currently have to magic weight loss elixir. Rich in health-promoting compounds called catechins, tea can help fry stubborn belly fat and even fight off disease. Not sure which brew is best for you? Pick up a copy of The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse!

Adjust at Your Mindset

All the healthy food in the world won’t do you any good if your mind isn’t in the right place. Once you’ve gotten used to eating the Zero Belly foods, try to shift your perspective a bit to best align with your new healthy eating plan. Here are our top suggestions:


Adopt Healthy Eating Rituals

There are no wrong ways to eat a Reese’s. Feasting rituals, research suggests, are a form of “mindful eating,” which has the power to make food more pleasurable, and may help prevent overeating. Pleasure, according to research in Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism, catalyzes the relaxation response, promoting parasympathetic and digestive activities. In other words, you’ll metabolize dessert faster if you really, really enjoy eating it. In one study, participants who were assigned to eat a chocolate bar in accordance with a particular breaking and unwrapping ritual found the candy much more enjoyable—and even more flavorful—than a group who ate the bar informally.


Change Your Perception Of “Full”

Hara hachi bu is a Japanese practice to “Eat until 80% full.” If you follow Hara hachi bu, you could save nearly 300 calories per day. It can take up to 30 minutes for the body to register satiety signals, according to research, so consider using chopsticks to slow your pace and feel your fullness. According to a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, healthy-weight customers were nearly three times more likely to use chopsticks than obese customers.


Jot Down Your Thoughts

A recent study revealed that when women who were unhappy with their weight completed a one-time, 15-minute writing exercise about an important personal issue, they went on to lose at least three pounds over a three-month period. On the other hand, their counterparts who wrote about an unimportant topic gained three pounds, according to Cheryl Forberg, RD, author of A Small Guide to Losing.

“Researchers believe that reflecting on values can serve as a buffer to the stress and uncertainty that leads to emotional eating and help in maintaining self-control in difficult situations,” she explains. To reap the benefits at home, Forberg suggests pulling out a journal, setting the timer and free-flowing about what’s important to you. “Write as though no one else will read it. Come clean with what’s bugging you. It may surprise and enlighten you,” adds Forberg. For more weight loss hacks, check out these quick ways to lose weight.


Treat Yourself

Beating yourself up over food is a knowledge-behavior gap many unsuccessful dieters fall into. Calling yourself “greedy” or a “fat pig” or “weak-willed” only makes you feel bad about yourself, which often leads to eating more in an attempt to give yourself a boost. It’s important to try to stop the negative self-talk, says Freida B. Herron, M.S.S.W., L.C.S.W. “I often suggest imagining that your desire to overeat is a lovable 5-year-old child,” she says. “You don’t want to berate or shame your appetite—that only leads to more dysfunctional eating.” Instead, treat yourself with respect, understanding, and affection, as you would that child.

And when that seems near impossible to do, try chanting a mantra that has a personal meaning to you, suggests Jen Comas Keck, a personal trainer and owner of Beauty Lies In Strength. If you’ve been working on your fitness, for example, something like “I feel stronger and healthier every day that passes” may be effective.


Identify the Root of Your Emotional Eating

If you’re the type of person that drowns your sorrows in a pint of ice cream, you might be what experts refer to as an “emotional eater”—and it’s likely the primary reason you have trouble staying trim. To lose weight, you need to first learn the difference between emotional hunger, which comes on suddenly, and physical hunger, which comes on gradually and is often accompanied by physical cues like a growling stomach, explains Forberg. The best way to overcome the urge to eat? Realize that although a bad feeling will eventually go away, the calories you consumed while you were feeling down, won’t. And the next time you’re feeling emotional, don’t try to mask your emotions or distract yourself. Experts say that truly experiencing your emotions will teach you that it’s possible to tolerate them head-on. Once you’ve done this exercise, it’s time to find a new, healthy coping strategy. Hitting the gym or calling a friend to vent are both solid options.


Celebrate Your Non-Scale Victories

Losing weight can be just as hard emotionally and physically. Remembering why you started your weight-loss journey can help lift your spirits when you’re down and motivate you to stick with it when you want to throw in the towel. “Take a moment each morning to remember what you’re working for—whether it be improved energy so you can play with your children or a longer happier life,” says Dyan Tsiumis, who dropped more than 70 pounds before becoming a personal trainer. “When you focus on all the good that will come from all of your hard work, it’s easier to stay on track,” she adds.

Tsiumis suggests setting an alarm on your cell phone as a “motivation reminder.” “I have an alarm that goes off three times per day to remind me what I’m working for—and I lost my weight over ten years ago! It keeps my mind focused on being my best,” explains Tsiumis.

Amp Up Your Workout

To chisel your newly trim stomach into the rippled abs you’ve always wanted, you have to amp up the intensity of your workout. Here are some of our go-to tips:


Lift Before Cardio

By running, biking or rowing after you’ve hit the weights, you’ll have a greater effect on your fat and calorie burn than had you done it beforehand. And don’t do any of these things you’re doing to slow your metabolism!


Sprint it Out

Sprinting is better for weight loss than running at a steady pace, says Dan Roberts, one of the UK’s top trainers. “Sprinting builds muscle which helps burn fat quickly. Also, the action of driving the legs initiates the abs and core” explains Roberts. “The faster you go and the shorter your recovery, the more your abs will develop.” Instead of your typical 30-minute trot, do 20 sets of 30-second sprints with a 30-second recovery between each. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Keeping your feet on either side of the belt, set your treadmill to a 10 percent incline. Then, set the machine to a challenging speed. This is typically at least two miles per hour faster than your distance running speed. So, for example, if you typically jog at 6.5 mph, you’re full-on sprint speed will be at least 8.5 mph.

Step 2: Hit the ground running for a solid 30-seconds. Then, slow the belt to a comfortable stroll and step your feet off to either side once you feel comfortable. Recover for a total of 30 seconds before repeating this pattern 19 more times. These circuits should take you exactly 20 minutes to complete.


Hop On a Rower

Rowing burns many calories and works the most muscles, including your back muscles. To bump it up a notch, take your workout outdoors. In a Brazilian study, outdoor rowers burned 26 percent more calories during a race than those on an indoor rowing ergometers.


Focus on Pushups

Although push-ups will emphasize the upper-body, including the shoulders and arms, they’re actually full-body exercises. “When done properly, they actually work your entire body and are one of the very best ways to target your external obliques,” says Annie Mulgrew, director of programming at City Row.


Sculpt Love Handles with Side Planks

If you want to get rid of those stubborn love handles, side planks are the perfect exercise for toning your obliques. By challenging your balance, side planks force you to recruit other muscles to stabilize your body.

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Abs developing on left side only (faster)

I think Ann-Core made a very good point
Make sure you maintain proper form on all exercises. A mirror helps, or videotape yourself – you may be surprised how off your form is sometimes. But this is natural, we all have a dominant side and tend to push a bit harder with that one.
Sometimes it’s a medical issue that you aren’t even aware of. I for example have a slightly tilted hip that I didn’t know of until I was 18 Things like these lead to slight imbalance in performance.
Just make sure you maintain proper form on your exercises and you should be good. The advantage of bodyweight exercises is that they never use one muscle in isolation so it’s pretty hard to overuse one muscle
If you still feel one side is being neglected or not being worked equally, put some extra emphasis on that side by adding a couple more reps. If an exercise calls for a total of 20 reps for both sides, split them up 11 – 9 for example.
​But just like Ann-Core said: it’s probably nothing, we are way more critical with ourself than we need to be and we see all the little things and details and start worrying. Don’t wrap your head around it too much

Men’s Health Fitness Director BJ Gaddour’s abs have appeared on the covers of books, in fitness DVDs, on the pages of magazines, and in social media fitness videos.

While most readers get inspired by his shredded torso, a handful of them have a totally different response. “I usually get a few people that say, ‘Your abs are weird. They’re crooked,’” says Gaddour. (That’s his six pack in the photo above.)

Uneven or not, most people would gladly take Gaddour’s abs any day of the week. But the comment did get us wondering why six packs can look so different from one person to the next. So we posed the question to Dean Somerset, C.S.C.S., an exercise physiologist in Edmonton Alberta, Canada.

(For the cutting-edge workouts that’ll help you reveal your abs, check out the new FREE app for iPhone and iPad: Men’s Health Personal Fitness Trainer. It’s loaded with the workouts and exercises you need to get the body you want.)

Like cleft chins, hair color, and finger length, your abs are usually determined by your genes, says Somerset. If mom, dad, grandma, or grandpa are fit enough to rock six packs—which usually means that their body fat is 12 percent or less—you’ll probably notice similarities between theirs and yours.

Maybe your abs are well defined, popping out like cobblestones. Or maybe they’re more indistinct, resembling a smooth, brick wall. The difference comes down to the size of your abdominal muscle bellies and the length of your tendons, explains Somerset.

Let’s start with the muscle belly. This is the middle of the muscle, where it’s biggest. “Some people are born with thicker ones,” says Somerset. “This can make the abs look more pronounced since there’s a higher peak on each one.”

RELATED: Make Your Abs Workout 5x Harder

Guys who look like they lift heavy yet have never actually picked up a barbell are often blessed with these types of muscle bellies. It’s easier to see their abs because the highest point of the muscle is plumper, he explains. If you have thinner muscle bellies, on the other hand, your abs will appear flatter. That’s because the peak of each abdominal muscle is lower, says Somerset.

Your tendons—which attach muscle to bone or muscle to muscle—play a big role in your washboard’s appearance, too. They can determine if your abs appear farther apart or closer together. If you’re born with longer tendons, there will be larger gaps between each ab muscle. Shorter tendons, smaller gaps.

To put this in perspective, think about your calves. Do they sit high on the back of your leg and look like cannon balls? Then you have a longer tendon running from your ankle to the muscle. If your calf takes up more real estate on your lower leg, you have a shorter tendon.

RELATED: How to Pick the Right Exercises for YOUR Body

As for uneven, asymmetrical abdominals, that’s a genetic trait, too, says Somerset. “We see crooked abs in cultures all around the world, so there’s probably no evolutionary reason for them,” he explains. It’s just passed down from generation to generation like attached or unattached earlobes.

But in some elite cases, training can determine what your six pack looks like, he says. If you do a lot of rotational movements—like repeatedly throwing a baseball on a daily basis—it may result in a visibly tilted torso or muscles that look diagonal. Your muscles develop more on one side, causing the entire abdominal region to shift so you look slightly rotated. “It’s your body adapting so you can throw better,” he says.

Bodybuilders want their abs to be 3D on stage. So when they’re getting ready for a competition, they’ll do shorter-range movements at higher volumes. This helps develop a higher peak in their muscle bellies, says Somerset. One way they do this: At the end of each rep of a crunch, they squeeze their abs as hard as possible. (For more ways to supersize your gains, read 5 Bodybuilding Techniques That Have Stood the Test of Time.)

​ ​

Powerlifters, on the other hand, aren’t worried about making their abs pop. They’re only worried about their performance. That’s why they use high-pressure breathing techniques to generate as much explosiveness as possible. This results in thicker, denser abs and tendons with little separation—and it’s why many powerlifters look as if they swallowed a keg.

“A powerlifter needs an abdominal wall that’s strong enough to handle the massive amounts of weight,” says Somerset. If they don’t, they could suffer a hernia or diastasis recti, a tear in the tissue above the belly button that connects the two sides of your abs, he explains.

As for Gaddour, he stands 6-feet-two-inches tall, weighs 225 pounds, and his body fat hovers somewhere around 6 percent. He’s the embodiment of shredded. At the end of the day, he’s not losing any sleep over his “weird” six pack.

This article was originally published in Men’s Health.

Leave one day in between abs sessions to allow the muscles to recover. . exercise mat, you are switching one side of your body off while you work the other. Unlike other muscle groups, the abdominals can be worked every single been working your core and building abdominal strength, add them right away from Day 1!) In the Plank Ab routine add weight to the Side Twist. Left side of abs more developed than the right, which exercises target only one side of the abs? Hold the weight on the opposite side where you’re working.

In order to work your obliques I would recommend you do three exercises. The first one involves a dumbbell. Stand with your body straight and. Try the hardest ever abs circuit to boost your training. “If you feel one side of your stomach is more muscular than the other For our purposes you will want to do anti-rotation woodchops so that the hips are not working. The same can happen in weight training and strengthening if you favor one side more than the other when doing abdominal work. It’s possible to do this without.

Left side of abs more developed than the right, which exercises target only one side of the abs? Hold the weight on the opposite side where you’re working. This workout video from Men’s Health gives you a step by step demo of a side- bridge. This exercise is a great way of toning abs. Hold a light weight in your right . But the abs include a handful of different muscle groups, and it’s important to ” This exercise targets the obliques but you will also work all of the abdominal Do 8 to 15 reps on one side, and then repeat on the other side.

What should you do if you have uneven abs? First off, it could be due to improper form that is causing one side to take on more of the load than the other. unilateral work where each side works independently of the other. While we love a good abs workout, a killer core isn’t just about a flat stomach. through for a killer obliques workout, or pick your favorite and work them into your A. Start by lying on one side, propped up on one elbow, keeping body in a. itself out but as long as I’m working with abs I don’t think that’s the case. If you still feel one side is being neglected or not being worked.

ABS and obliques exercises

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