Revolutionize Your Run: The Ultimate Guide to Strengthening Your Obliques

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Cross Training For Runners
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David Dack

In my many discussions about core training for runners, there’s one muscle group that’s been lurking in the shadows: the obliques.

Today, I’m unveiling a workout specially crafted for these underappreciated wonders of our torso.

Why the focus on obliques now? Well, as we’ll unravel, they’re not just sideline muscles. The obliques play a pivotal role in the ensemble that is our core.

But before we delve into those specialized oblique workouts, let’s tackle an essential question: Why should the core, and especially those often-overlooked obliques, occupy a slot in your training regimen?

Join us as we navigate the intricate web of muscles to understand the significance of a strong core.

The Benefits Of A Strong Core

Sure, a toned tummy looks fabulous when you’re rocking your favorite swimwear, but the benefits go way beyond the aesthetic.

The core—your body’s power hub—plays a pivotal role in almost every move you make. Whether you’re busting out reps at the gym or simply reaching for something on a high shelf, a fortified core is your silent, ever-ready ally.

Think of it this way: a robust core isn’t just about acing athletic feats; it’s also your trusty sidekick for mundane tasks. From lugging grocery bags to strutting confidently down a corridor, a strong core is like your body’s superhero cape.

And here’s a health nugget to chew on: extensive studies have shown that excessive belly fat can be a precursor to numerous health issues, from diabetes and high blood pressure to the more severe like heart attacks.

So, while a flat stomach might be a confidence booster, it’s also a nod to a healthier, more robust you.

For more, check the following studies

What Are The Obliques? Defining The Side Abs

Imagine a set of muscles stretching in a diagonal path, linking your ribs to your pelvis and extending from the edge of your hipbone right up to your sternum. These are your obliques – the unsung heroes of your midsection.

More than just a name on your body’s roster, the obliques play a starring role in shaping and supporting your core. When you invest time in training them right, they perfectly complement your rectus abdominis (that’s the fancy name for the “six-pack” muscles). The reward? A waistline that not only looks stronger but also carries a certain sculpted elegance.

But wait, there’s more to the story! Your oblique family comprises two members: the external obliques, which you can think of as the outer guardians and the internal obliques, the deeper muscle layer. To ensure a core that’s not just show-ready but also performance-ready, it’s vital to give both these sets their due training time.

The External Obliques

Situated on the outer layer of your abdomen, they stretch diagonally from the sides of your rib cage right down to the peaks of your hip bones.

Picture this: every time you sway, swivel, or twist your torso, it’s the external obliques that come into play. What’s fascinating is the teamwork they exhibit. If you’re rotating your body to the right, it’s your left external oblique that takes charge, pulling the strings from the opposite side.

But the talents of these muscles don’t end there. Beyond aiding in those dance floor spins, the external obliques wear multiple hats. They’re pivotal in maintaining your posture, ensuring you stand tall and confident. Additionally, they act as guardians, generating a protective pressure that shields your vital internal organs. And if that weren’t enough, they also pitch in when it comes to spinal movements and other core functionalities.

In essence, these muscles aren’t just about the twist and shout on the dance floor; they’re integral to many of the movements and protections your body relies on daily.

The Internal Side Abs

Unlike their external counterparts, these are nestled snugly just beneath the rectus abdominis (your six-pack muscles) and sit slightly inside the hip bone.

While they may be tucked away out of plain sight, their role in body movement is undeniable. Similar to the external obliques, the internal ones are also intricately involved in twisting and turning. Yet, there’s a unique dance they perform. When you make a move like twisting to the left, both the left and right internal obliques are activated in tandem, working in harmony.

The Functions Of The External & External Obliques

Let’s dive into the choreography your obliques execute daily. Both the internal and external obliques are multitaskers, orchestrating a series of crucial moves that keep your torso flexible and strong.

Here are their headline acts:

  • Lateral Flexion: This is all about giving your torso its signature side-to-side bend. Think of those moments when you’re reaching sideways to pick something up or simply stretching after a long day.
  • Flexion: This move involves rounding your spine. Imagine the motion of curling forward into a ball or bending down to tie your shoes.
  • Rotation: The obliques’ grand finale! This function lets you twist and turn your torso. Whether you’re looking over your shoulder or pivoting in a dance, rotation is in play.

In sum, these functions highlight the obliques’ central role in giving your body its wide range of motion and stability. Whether bending, twisting, or flexing, they’re always at the heart of the action.

That’s why, if you’re aiming for superior performance, you need them to be strong.

As a runner, strong obliques can help you build and keep proper running form by ensuring spine stability and good posture throughout the running sessions.

This is especially the case when fatigue starts to set in.

The 7 Best Oblique Exercises To Try

Every muscle in your body follows the principle of ‘use it or lose it,’ and your obliques are no different. The more you challenge them, the stronger and more defined they become.

Want to put your obliques through their paces? Here’s a curated list of my top exercises that target every facet of oblique functionality, be it through rotation, testing their stability, or working under uneven loads.

Workout Breakdown

These side abs exercises are structured as mini-circuits, making them the perfect addition at the tail-end of your primary workout.

The Aim? To engage as many muscle fibers as possible in a swift yet effective manner. So, as you dive into these exercises, follow the sequence, reps, and rest intervals to the T.

Good News! There’s no need to break the bank with fancy gym memberships. The majority of these workouts are either equipment-free or simply need basic gear like a medicine ball or dumbbell.

A word of caution: This routine is designed to get your obliques burning with intensity! While the pace is brisk, never compromise on form. Prioritize clean, controlled movements to get the most out of each rep while keeping your body safe.

Ready to redefine those obliques? Let’s dive in!

  1. T-Stabilization

Assume a plank position with arms and legs straight but with the feet slightly wider.

Next, shift your weight to the right hand, stack up your feet, rotate the left side of your trunk up, and raise your left arm into the air so that your torso and arms are forming a “T” shape.

Hold the pose for 30 seconds to one minute, then switch sides to complete one set.

  1. Side Plank Crunch

Begin in a side plank on the left elbow with the left foot slightly in front of the right and the right hand behind the head.

Next, while keeping the waist lifted, core engaged, and torso steady, bring your right leg up toward your shoulder to lightly tap the right elbow, pause for a moment, and then bring it back to the starting position.

Aim to perform eight to ten crunches on each side to complete one set.

Shoot for three to five sets.

  1. Russian Twists Oblique Exercise

Sit on the floor with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, roughly hip distance apart, then lean back to a 45-degree angle.

For more challenge, use a heavier weight and/or lift both feet off the floor.

Next, while holding a weight plate and bracing the core, rotate your torso from right to left by twisting at the waist and swinging the weight across the body, tapping the weight to the floor, then twisting back over to the left side, tapping the weight to the left side of their body to complete one rep.

Aim for 12 to 16 reps to complete one set.

Shoot for three sets.

  1. Lying Side Oblique Crunches

Lie on your left side with legs on top of each other, knees bent, and core engaged, then place your right hand on the side of the head and the other hand on the oblique muscle.

Then, contract your oblique muscle by crunching the abs sideways.

Next, start performing sideways ab crunches, making sure to rise as high as possible, hold for a moment, and then slowly lower down to complete one rep.

  1. Metronome Side Abs Exercise

Begin by lying on your back with the knees slightly bent and raised over your hips, ankles parallel to the floor, and core engaged.

Next, rotate your legs to the right side, stopping short of tapping the ground, then move back to the center and rotate your legs to the other side to complete one rep.

Please don’t cheat by using momentum for the rotation.

Instead, move slowly and make sure to engage your core the entire time.

For more challenge, try to keep your legs as straight as possible.

  1. Around the World

Assume a shoulder-width stance with toes turned slightly out and tailbone tucked while holding a weight plate at the outside grip with the arms straight overhead.

Next, while engaging your core and keeping the back flat, bend your elbows and rotate your arms around to move the weight around your head in a circular motion.

Perform 8 to 12 “rotations” on each side to complete one set.

Do three sets.

  1. Spiderman Pushups Oblique Exercise

Assume a push-up position with legs and arms straight, core engaged, back flat, and head in a neutral position.

Next, as you lower your torso towards the ground, lift your right foot off the floor, then pull your right knee up and towards your right side to hip level or all the way up to the elbow, pause, then press back up to the starting position.

Switch sides to complete one rep.

Perform eight reps to complete one set.

Aim for three sets.

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The 7 Best Oblique Exercises To Try – Conclusion

There you have it.

The above oblique exercises workout routine is all you need to build strong and powerful side abs. Just make sure to perform the seven side abs exercises on a regular basis while staying within your fitness level the entire time.

In the meantime thank you for dropping by.

Keep Running Strong

David D.

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