Step away from the waist trainers, those trendy contraptions promising to squish your sides, or your obliques, into submission and smooth away “love handles” or your “muffin top.” Vanity aside, strong oblique muscles are vital to creating and maintaining a strong core, and you're only going to get that strength from hard work. Compare that to waist trainers, which, according to Teen Vogue, compress your organs and can cause everything from gas and bloating to nausea and stomach ulcers while dangerously restricting your ability to eat. Oh, and also? They don't work. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life. Try these workouts instead for a stronger core and more defined waist.
Via the Ballet Physique
If you're looking to incorporate an oblique-focused move or two into your fitness repertoire, try this short exercise video. Kristen Zurek, founder of Colorado-based the Ballet Physique, demonstrates two deceptively simple moves that will challenge your obliques whether you go with the beginner option or turn up the heat with the more advanced option. There's also the additional challenge of maintaining some semblance of grace while you are literally shaken to your core. The key here is to make sure you understand the form Zurek presents and engage your abs to get the most out of the movement.
A veritable smorgasbord of oblique exercises, including bodyweight moves like Bicycle Crunches, weighted moves like a Standing Ab Twist and even some balance challenging moves, like the Twisted BOSU Plank that will have you longing for the days of the simple forearm plank. While the images accompanying the exercise instructions are static, they demonstrate the range of motion. You can also choose the exercises that align best with your needs and the equipment available to you. PopSugar emphasizes the importance of proper form, instructing newbies to stick to five reps of each move and offering modifications to suit a variety of fitness levels. Still, this workout is best for those with a working knowledge of strength training exercises like crunches and planks.
Shape picked the brains of trainers who employ a variety of styles, including boot camp, Pilates and kettlebell kickboxing, to bring readers a master list of unique exercises that will take your ab strength to the next level. Moves like the Oblique Side Sit-Up take familiar conceits and add elements such as weights and an upper body-work to challenge your body in ways you never imagined while keeping your obliques at the forefront. Perfect for the seasoned fitness enthusiast who needs to shake up their routine and get their bodies to feel the burn.
No equipment? No problem! Daily Burn brings you amped-up versions of classic crunches, planks and situps, tweaking and intensifying the movements for a bodyweight workout comprised of killer moves like Spiderman Crunches and Side Plank Swipers. The combination of thorough instructions and high-quality GIFs illustrating each move are super helpful when determining proper form, and Daily Burn provides modifications so that those with less strength and experience can build up to the full expression of the move in increments while still getting a major workout, making it amenable to a range of fitness levels.
Via Fitness Blender
Here's the cardio and toning oblique sculptor you didn't know you needed until right this moment. By alternating one minute of toning with a minute of jumping oblique twists, you're burning calories and strengthening your muscles. The cardio component alone is tough, but the Fitness Blender duo adds in moves like Russian Twists and Side Hip Raises for a routine will work your oblique muscles to their limit. Fitness Blender gives this routine a difficulty rating of three out of five, which is appropriate, and recommends you pair this with another workout of theirs to increase calorie burn, but this also works as a stand-alone workout when paired with a warm-up and cool-down.
Cassey Ho is aiming to make working out easier for those who are pressed for time by creating the Quick Burn series, equipment free workouts you can do anywhere. First up in the series is this obliques workout, which consists of only three moves that are heavy on the side plank, so your upper body will also be in on the action here. This workout is short on time and long on intensity. Ho demonstrates superb form and offers tips that will help you along the way, but it is definitely a video for those with Pilates experience.
Forget fly-by-night quick fixes and add some of these into your sweat session! Your body will appreciate the effort.