Obliques: The Missing Link in Your Core
The 'core' is an incredibly overused term in the fitness world today. Every magazine cover and internet ad has a new secret tip for "training your core" that more than likely misses the point completely. At GymnasticBodies we use the word 'core' to refer to the entirety of your midsection, including your abdominals, hip flexors, glutes, lower back, and obliques on either side. This 360-degree "wrap" should work as one coordinated unit to brace, bend, flex, twist, snap, and extend your body as needed throughout space. As you can see, simply performing sit-ups for your "core" training is outdated and incomplete. Here's how the best in the world are redefining complete core strength:
This 360-degree "wrap" should work as one coordinated unit to brace, bend, flex, twist, snap, and extend your body as needed throughout space. As you can see, simply performing sit-ups for your "core" training is outdated and incomplete. Here's how the best in the world are redefining complete core strength:
How GB defines the "core"
Oblique strength and mobility is virtually non-existent in adults nowadays. Most people spend their time sitting, and if they do exercise, they most likely only train vertically or horizontally. This sedentary lifestyle leaves out ranges of motion such as rotating, twisting, and side-bending, which are all performed by using your obliques. Without these movements, your core, hips, and back are all missing an integral piece to the overall puzzle.
A common misconception is that big weightlifting movements like squats and deadlifts are enough to train your core, and that core-specific exercises are unnecessary. If this were true, then the myriads of weightlifting athletes who have attended GB Seminars in the past would not have had so much trouble with basic positions like hollow body holds! Furthermore, if this were true then we should not see so many instances of low back pain in athletes who are very strong in squatting and deadlifting. The problem is that these big lifts only train hip extension, yet your core is capable of so many more movements than just that.
Redefine your core training with the GB Foundation Series!
How to train your obliques
A great first step to training your obliques properly is the side plank twist. Position yourself in an elbow side plank on the ground with your legs straight, hips open, and shoulders stacked directly over your elbow. Place your opposite hand behind your head, and keeping your hips squared up to the front, twist and rotate your torso such that your top elbow eventually touches the ground. Pause briefly in this bottom position, then twist and rotate once more to reach back to the top position.
If you have mastered the side plank twist, another beneficial oblique exercise is a twisting arch-up. You can perform this exercise with a partner holding your legs while you lay face-down with your hips across a bench, or you can find a GHD or Roman chair to use at most standard gyms. Begin this twisting variation as you would any other arch-up, with your legs firmly locked in, your torso facing the floor, and your hands behind your head. Rotate your upper body to the left, then using your obliques lift all the way up to the top while continuing to face that same side. Pause briefly at the top, then slowly lower with control, still facing the left, all the way to the bottom. Repeat on the opposite side as well.
Advanced oblique training
Part of the reason oblique training is so absent from mainstream fitness is that very few people have any idea what advanced oblique work even looks like. If all you know is back squat, bench press, and deadlift, then you will be missing out on the whole world of side lever work. As you can tell from the above photo, a side lever involves a combination of pressing with the bottom arm, pulling with the top arm, and actively engaging the obliques in order to resist/initiate rotation. Whereas some street workout or calisthenics athletes perform static side lever work, proper Gymnastic Strength TrainingTM requires you to develop the strength to dynamically pull into and out of full side levers as well. This is where your oblique training should take you.
GymnasticBodies oblique strength is highlighted in our core training so that you're sure to develop ALL of your midsection!