Muscles Targeted: The elbow to knee oblique crunch is an isolation exercise that concentrates one a very important muscle group. It targets your obliques, that pair of muscles that traverse the sides of your abdominal area, running underneath your rib cage to the pubic area. The top muscle of your obliques is called the external obliques, while the one underneath is called the internal obliques.
Exercise Instructions: Lie on your back and keep your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your head. Curl up and bring your left elbow and shoulder across your body while bringing your right knee in toward your left shoulder at the same time. Reach with your elbow and try to touch your knee. You can either do one side for all your reps, then switch to the other side or alternate sides.
Why This Exercise is Important: Frequently overlooked, your obliques play an important role in core stability. You need the obliques to swing a racket or land on your feet (not crumple in a heap) when you jump. It’s the muscle that acts like a torque so that you can twist your torso to pick up something from the ground or if you want to swing a punch. Most people ignore the obliques in favor of regular crunches to help get six pack abs. But if you overlook these muscles, you will not target your entire midsection. This exercise not only develops your obliques but it also improves your posture, develops a stable core and reduces back pain. It will also help you project a slimmer outline because strong obliques slims down your waist.
Things To Avoid: When doing the elbow to knee oblique crunches, be aware of your posture because doing it improperly can lead to a neck injury. This means you should avoid pulling your neck or dropping it as you come up. Picture yourself holding an orange under your chin while you go up and down. Aside from your neck, you should also make sure that you maintain a neutral spine. You should neither arch your back or flatten your spine too rigidly as you do the exercise. Use slow and controlled movements, feeling the contraction of your abdominal obliques each repetition. Go for quality of the movement rather than quantity, making each move count. Inhale as you go down and exhale when going up. Get power from the core instead of your back. Finally, always consult with your doctor if you have had a previous back injury or if you’re currently suffering from any back pain.
Reps and Sets: If you are just starting out, shoot for at least 10 repetitions in the beginning, slowly working to about 20 reps per side. Do 2-3 sets for every ab workout. Remember, do not get hung up on the overall number of reps or sets you complete. What is important is that you perform the exercise properly each time.
Other Exercises To Use: Together with the elbow to knee oblique crunches, you can also perform decline AB crunches for your lower abs and abdominal butt raises for the middle and upper abs. View our extensive database of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of exercises that target the abs.