Targeting the obliques directly can be a tricky proposition...quite often when you do exercises that work the obliques, it tends to build the muscle.
A good example of this is the dumbbell side bend.
What happens when you build the obliques? The Love Handles (those lovely pockets of fat on the sides of your waist) get pushed outwards, making you look fatter and thicker in the waist than you actually are.
So what you need is an exercise that works to TIGHTEN the obliques rather than build them out.
And that's where THIS exercise comes in...it's an easier version of an exercise called the Human Flag.
I'll tell you right up front...the Human Flag is a TOUGH exercise that very few people are strong enough to do. The goal is to hold a horizontal body position while gripping onto a vertical pole...one hand high and one hand low.
As you can imagine, it requires tremendous strength in the core and shoulders to perform.
So what if you'd like to reap some of the side abdominal wall-strengthening and tightening benefits of the exercise even if you're unable to hold that full-on position?
You do the"starter" version of the Human Flag that I'm going to show you...and to perform it, all you'll need is a flat bench.
The execution is simple. Lie on your side on the bench with your hip on the end of the bench (the end should hit you about mid-glute). Grip onto to the bottom surface of the bench.
Then just straighten out your legs and hold.
You'll find this exercise works not only the side abdominal wall very strongly, it also works the abductors on the top leg (the gluteus medius and minimus) and the adductors on the bottom leg (inner thigh muscles).
To make this exercise easier, just move your body up the bench a little so more of your leg is resting on the bench. To make it harder, just shift down the bench so more of your leg is off the bench.
Once you've held for as long as you can on one side, flip over and do the other side.
This is a VERY simple exercise that I find to be extremely beneficial. It builds strength in your side abdominal wall and tightens up the obliques without growing them and pushing out the "love handle" area (which can happen with weighted side bend exercises).
This exercise avoids that while helping you tighten up the muscles to actually pull that area in, rather than pushing it out.
Granted, you won't lose fat directly from the love handles doing this exercise but you can give the appearance of a tighter waist (and the bonus work for the adductor and abductor muscles of the hips and thighs).
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