Although it’s called “six pack abs,” it’s not just your abdominal muscles that you need to exercise. You will also need to tone your obliques – muscles on both sides of your abdominal muscles that give your abs that extra hard, toned appearance.
Your abs are the muscles that create the “packs,” but it is your abdominals that help your six pack stand out against your stomach. The firmer your obliques appear, the more your six pack will show.
2 Keys to Getting Rid of Your “Love Handles”
Your obliques may be one of the key reasons you aren’t able to get the six pack abs you want. That is because your obliques are often covered by a layer of fat known as “love handles.” Love handles have a tendency to collect fat quickly, hiding your abs and obliques beneath it. There are two parts to removing your love handles:
1) Burn off Body Fat
You cannot get rid of your love handles without integrating fat burning workout into your six pack abs routine. Love handles are entirely made up of fat that needs to be removed if you hope to see more definition in your abs. Muscle building workouts designed to target your obliques are not enough to reduce the size of your love handles. Unless you perform fat burning workouts, you will continue to have love handles. I’ve found Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle to be the best fat burning program I’ve tried. Click here to start successfully burning up to 2lbs of fat per week…
2) Perform Oblique Exercises
Once you have burned enough fat, you will also need to perform exercises to firm and tone your obliques. Ideally, the best way to target these muscles is to perform oblique/side abs exercises that are designed to utilize the muscle directly. There are several great ab workouts that also build muscle on your obliques, but specific oblique targeted exercises are often more effective for creating that firm, hard appearance you hope to gain.
6 Exercises That Build Obliques
Side crunches are similar to standard crunches in style and stance, but with one key difference. Standard crunches involve keeping your back against the ground, your hands behind your head and your feet on the ground with your knees in the air. Side crunches, on the other hand, involve placing your legs sideways while keeping your body flat. Your knees should still be bent and your legs together, but by laying them against the ground to your side you are able to better target your obliques and the sides of your abs. Switch which side your knees are pointing to target both sides of your obliques.
Exercise Ball Oblique Crunches
You’ll need an exercise ball for this workout. Lay diagonally on your right side of the ball. Your hip should be resting on the ball, while your feet should be on the floor against a wall for leverage. You may want to spread your legs out if you need extra balance. To perform the oblique crunch, let your body lean over the exercise ball and use your obliques you raise your body back up to the starting position. Repeat on the left side to target your right obliques.
- Here’s a video demonstration:
Side Leg Raises
Side leg raises are one of the more popular oblique exercises. Lay down on your right side with your legs out. Your right arm should be stretched out in front of you for balance, while your left arm should be behind your head. Slowly and deliberately raise your left leg in the air. While you’re raising your leg, bring your head towards your knee as best you can without losing your position. Once you’re done your left obliques, switch sides.
Side bends are more effective with a dumbbell or an exercise ball. To perform a side bend, stand up straight with your legs shoulder width apart. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand, and while facing forward let your body lean towards the side of the dumbbell. Alternatively, raise your arms in the air while holding an exercise ball. Then, using your obliques, lean your body the opposite direction and then in controlled movements bring the dumbbell back to the starting position.
Note: Side bends can be performed without a dumbbell or exercise ball, but as you gain more strength and firmness in your obliques using dumbbells or exercise ball. It is a useful way to add resistance.
Sit with your back hips against a chair or bench and your feet propped up against the pads. Place your hands behind your head. Lean back in the chair until you feel it tight in your abs. Then bring your head up and twist towards your left side. Then go back in the starting position, bring your head up and twist to your right side. This will help you target both obliques, and will give you a decent ab workout as well.
- Here’s a video demonstration:
Yoga Half-Moon Pose
The Yoga Half Moon pose is useful for those that are looking to tone their obliques. Start by standing straight with your arms in the air and clasped together. Bend your body at its side as far as you can go without losing your balance. Your feet should remain planted against the ground. Hold for a few seconds before stretching your body back up to its starting position and moving over to the opposite side.
Continue Watching Your Diet
Finally, as you build your obliques you just continue to try to avoid gaining fat. Your love handles are one of the first places that fat builds up if you are eating poorly, and just a small layer of fat can reduce the appearance of your entire six pack. Having a great eating strategy before, during, and after you have developed your six pack is the best way to get rid of your love handles and keep them from coming back.
Working Off Those Love Handles
Getting rid of your love handles involves an effective fat burning workout and exercises that are known to help increase the tone of your obliques. It can be a process to burn that fat away and tone those muscles, but the result is a firmer and more impressive six pack that you can be proud of.