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If you’re looking for a shapely, contoured midsection you may think training your abdominal muscles daily and incorporating heavy weights into the equation is the answer. However, that might lead to the opposite of what you’re looking to achieve and result in boxy, bulky, or square-looking oblique muscles.
Not to mention, certain exercises will either make or break your midsection goals, intensifying the confusion surrounding training for sleek obliques. With that, Monica Brant, fitness icon and professional fitness competitor provides her top tips to help you create a strong, sleek obliques and a shapely midsection.
In short, absolutely. “It is without a doubt that genetics (thanks, Mom and Dad) come into play in the shape of the obliques,” Brant says. The good news is, no matter your genes and natural shape, there are things you can do to get closer to the ‘look’ you’re going for. “While genetics provide the canvas for an aesthetically pleasing core/abdominal area (including obliques) we can do exercises to enhance our structure and exercises that will defeat the purpose as well.” Explains Brant.
So how can one achieve a shapely and strong midsection while avoiding squaring off? Be sure to grab your notepad and jot down Brant’s priceless details on how she created her incredible physique that has won her titles over the years.
Out of the 25 years (1991-2016) Brant competed in both fitness and figure, it has been her experience that a dedicated sprint routine aids in producing a slim waistline (not to mention strong arms, shoulders, quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes).
“While competing in the USATF Master’s Track meets in the 100m, 200m, and 400m races ,my physique took a different and more quality shape in my 40s from all of the other years of my competitive career.” she recalls.
During these years competing in track, Brant won two world titles on stage, and one UK-based overall national show; plus competed in the World’s Masters Track meet in Brazil bringing home two silver, one bronze, and two gold medals all while preparing for her figure competitions.
“I never considered training my obliques and never felt they were becoming too muscular or overpowering the rest of my physique,” Brant says. “Sprints provided me with a well-detailed physique and symmetry including obliques.”
Of course, nutrition is key for any and all muscle to be enhanced when looking to cut body fat. “Clean eating and incorporating some IF (intermittent fasting) can help showcase the beautiful abdominal structure, as it helps to reduce the visceral fat that lies deep in the waist area,” she says.
“Reducing the visceral fat gives the illusion of a smaller waist and tighter, obliques,” Brant adds. Plus, it’s healthier to have less of this kind of fat.
In Brant’s experience and opinion, these are some of the exercises to avoid if you are looking for a smaller circumference of your waist.
So, what moves should you do to create a smaller waistline? Brant put together this workout specifically with for those looking to create a more athletic waistline.
Brant explains any variety of an elbow side plank with or without hip lifts or leg lifts will strengthen and tighten the core while avoiding a boxy appearance.
If new to these moves, Brant recommends simply holding the plank at the top, and pressing the top hip to the ceiling/sky which helps achieve maximum strength.
Once the hold side plank becomes easy, Brant recommends you start to move in this position by dropping the hip down and then pressing it back up with care to feel the muscles working and take your time to breathe correctly too.
“These moves will tighten your abdominal muscles, while also helping to strengthen the muscles in your glutes.” Says, Brant. An added bonus to strong sleek obliques!
Now go get the midsection you’ve been dreaming of!
Depending on where your physical fitness level is, Brant explains that you can take these five exercises and move through them in the following routines. “Weights and different equipment are not necessary to strengthen your core,” according to Brant, who prefers all exercises to be bodyweight only. These moves can be performed anywhere, which is a bonus.
How to: Perform each exercise for 60 seconds with 10 to 20 seconds of recovery in between.
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