Oblique crunches, also known as twisting crunches, are a commonly used abdominal exercise in which you do a basic crunch while twisting the upper portion of your body and bringing each elbow to meet an opposite knee, each time changing the direction in which you twist your body. There are many different variations for this particular exercise, which makes oblique crunches easy for anyone to do.
Exercise Instructions: Lie flat on your back on a mat with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your right hand over your right ear. Crunch your midsection up and across, trying to touch your right elbow to your left knee. Concentrate on contracting your midsection throughout the movement. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
Muscles Targeted: As you bring your body into the crunch position and rotate your torso towards the opposite knee, the oblique muscles begin to contract. The oblique muscles are located on each side of your abdomen and are commonly referred to as “love handles”. These muscles will tighten and contract every time you rotate your spine. We all have two types of obliques. The external obliques are the muscles located closer to your skin. They are located at the lower part of the rib cage and stretch diagonally downward to your pelvis. The internal obliques lie just underneath the external obliques. The internal obliques are located at the hip bone and run diagonally upward to your rib cage. Additionally, there are two other muscles that are targeted during oblique crunches and these are the rectus abdominis and the iliopsoas. These muscles work with the obliques to help complete the crunch, therefore they do not work as hard.
Why This Exercise is Important: While all exercise is important in maintaining physical fitness, core exercises remain the most crucial. These exercises work by strengthening the body, particularly the pelvis, hips and lower back, and can also help strengthen the back and improve posture. With a stronger back, you are less likely to have lower back pain. As these muscles become stronger, the body will also improve in areas of balance and coordination. Core exercises, such as oblique crunches, can do wonders for your ligaments and muscles by stabilizing the lower back and improving your flexibility.
Things To Avoid: When doing this exercise, be sure to take your time and perform the oblique crunches very slowly. Do not rush and be sure to hold the position for at least two seconds. Also, be sure to use your oblique muscles and avoid using or pulling your neck forward during the crunch. It is important to maintain the alignment of the spine and head. Keep the lower back on the floor as you raise up and lower your body, and keep your chin tilted slightly upward to avoid neck injury. Just imagine yourself holding an orange or an apple under your chin to ensure your maintaining the proper form. Make sure to inhale and exhale properly during each repetition.
Reps and Sets: You should try to complete at least five to ten repetitions on each side. As you progress, work up to 10 to 20 repetitions on each side.
Other Exercises To Use: If you want to have a complete abdominal workout, it is important to target all areas of the midsection, not just the obliques. Therefore, incorporating several different exercises into your regimen is the key to success. A few exercises to try include hanging abdominal leg raises, which is known as one of the best abdominal exercises, the flat bench abdominal pull-ins, a great exercise for beginners, and reverse abdominal crunches, which targets the lower abs. View our extensive database of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of exercises that target the abs.