Oblique exercise question and clarification

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Oblique exercise question and clarification

Post by Edward20 » Sun Feb 08, 2015 4:27 pm


Firstly I'd like to compliment you folks for this great website. I've learnt quite a lot about weight training, exercises, biomechanics and kinesiology from the content here and it's still one of my go-to websites when I need to know more or have a clarification about something regarding weight lifting.

Anyway, I registered here to clear my doubts about oblique exercises. Basically I'm trying to make my obliques bigger, kind of like the ancient Greek statues. I've been looking into implementing side bends or twisting cable crunches into my routine, but after reading about how these exercises can be dangerous due to the movement the spine undergoes under a load, I've had my doubts about them.

I understand the value of core stability through compound lifts and isometric exercises, and some people swear by that isometric work is all that's needed for the abs/obliques, although AFAIK dynamic movements are better for hypertrophy than isometric ones, and effective dynamic ab/oblique exercises require flexion/rotation of the spine.

The questions: So that's my dilemma. I'm wondering if doing a dynamic exercise like side bends, as long as I keep the weight light and progress steadily, will be problematic or not? Stuward in the past has recommended Saxon bends, and I'm interested in them, since the bigger leverage keeps the weight lower, even when one's conservative about the weight, unlike traditional side bends where you can screw up and use a heavy weight.

Also, do the upper and lower obliques have different functions? I ask because I've seen folks with well-developed lower obliques but not much above. I prefer to have the look of guys like Eugen Sandow, well-developed obliques all around. He did side bends for his lightweight dumbbell exercises and heavy bent presses, etc. I've also seen side bends recommended for the upper obliques on some forums, so maybe lateral flexion brings them into play more?

I'd like to hear some opinions and thanks.

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Re: Oblique exercise question and clarification

Post by stuward » Tue Feb 10, 2015 9:59 am

I've never heard of upper or lower obliques. It''s one muscle and different shapes are likely due to genetics.

Following is what I think is the best article on core training. http://www.t-nation.com/training/21st-c ... e-training" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Note that you can work your core to initiate movement or to resist movement. It is designed to do both. I don't do a lot of direct core work but I do a lot of unilateral kettlebell work which engage the core. Turkish Getups, Windmills, bent press, etc. Also, something I need to do more of, medicine ball work, involves twisting and power transfer at odd angles.

As for whether it's safe to twist and bend the loaded spine, it's all a matter of progression. You wouldn't start off trying to squat 500lbs, you work up to it. Likewise, you don't start off bent pressing ridiculous weight, you work up to it. I think the risk comes in when you are lifting somthing heavy and you inadvertantly twist, then the load is more than you've trained for. If you progressively train that movement, you may prevent injury down the road.
Stu Ward
Let thy food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food.~Hippocrates
Strength is the adaptation that leads to all other adaptations that you really care about - Charles Staley
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Re: Oblique exercise question and clarification

Post by excore » Mon Mar 02, 2015 5:59 am

Your back wont get as strong in squat or deadlift compared isolation movement because their mission in that movement is isometric hold instead moving weight.

Also balancing bar in squat is very minimal at best. You can basically squat without even holding bar with arms. Gravity does work for you because bar is center of your body.

You can get stronger mid body with isolation exercises but it wont help your squat or dl because first muscle you will get to failure are always legs.

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