Muscles Targeted: This exercise is ideal for toning your oblique abdominal muscles which are also referred to as the “love handles”.
Why This Exercise is Important: Dumbbell oblique side bends are perfect for targeting the oblique muscles, which are one of the hardest areas within the abdominal area to strengthen and tone. Some oblique exercises only target certain areas of the oblique muscles, but this exercise, when performed correctly, engages the entire region.
Exercise Instructions: This exercise works the oblique muscles of your midsection. Begin by standing up straight with your feet shoulder width apart. Hold a dumbbell in your left hand with your palm facing in. Keeping your back straight, bend to the left as far as you can, then return to the starting position. After finishing your desired reps, change the weight to your other hand and repeat on the opposite side. Remember to bend only at your waist.
Things To Avoid: This is an exercise that must be performed correctly to be effective, so it is important to read and follow the workout instructions carefully. Do not hold a second dumbbell or weight in the hand you are not using to perform the exercise. Doing this reduces the impact of the exercise on the side you are focusing on, as the second dumbbell becomes a counterweight and focus is reduced from the oblique area you are working on.
Your back should remain straight throughout the exercises so do not bend forward or backwards at all. All movement should be to the side only. It is important that this posture be maintained throughout the exercise to prevent undue strain being placed on the back and spine.
Do not use a weight that is too heavy. Of course, as you strengthen your abdominals over time, a larger weight may be necessary to ensure you continue to progress, but it is important that the weight you use initially is challenging but not excessive as this can cause injury.
Reps and Sets: After you have found a weight you are comfortable with (one that is challenging but not too heavy), you need to create a workout of repetitions and sets that is challenging and will allow you to progress. This may involve a trial and error system initially.
A typical workout for a beginner (if this exercise is one of several within your abdominal workout) may consist of 3-5 sets, each containing 10-15 repetitions. Between each set it is important to take a short break to allow your muscles to recover temporarily, thus rendering the workout more effective.
There are various ways the level of intensity of this exercise can be increased. First, the number of repetitions or sets can be increased. Second, the weight used can be increased. Finally, you can vary your workout by alternating your sets by using a heavier weight and performing a lower number of reps within one set, and then using a lighter (but still challenging) weight in your next set and performing a higher number of repetitions.
Other Exercises To Use: The dumbbell oblique side bends are a highly effective exercise for toning the oblique muscles. However, if you are aiming to strengthen and tone the entire abdominal area, it is important to incorporate a range of abdominal activities into your workout program. Both the flat bench abdominal leg raises and leg pull ins are ideal for toning the lower abdominal muscles and these movements can be performed anywhere there is a flat surface. View our extensive database of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of exercises that target the abs.