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The six-pack muscle, the rectus abdominals gets all the attention, and rightly so. When your diet is dialed in and you’re strong and lean, the six-pack is the center of the attention. But the two muscles on either side of your rectus abs called the oblique muscles are either an afterthought and are trained with side planks and Pallof presses or are totally forgotten about.
Often referred to as the love handle muscles, the obliques not only look good but have important benefits for your health and performance. Here we’ll dive into the oblique muscles anatomy and function, the benefits of training them, and 3 sneaky strength exercises that will strengthen this important muscle.
The oblique muscles are comprised of two main muscles: the internal and external obliques. They’re beside your six-pack muscles and run from the hips to the rib cage. The external oblique starts from the external surfaces of ribs 5-12 and inserts the Linea alba, pubic tubercle, and anterior half of the iliac crest around the pelvis.
The internal obliques run directly under the external obliques, and the muscle fibers travel perpendicular to each other. Internal obliques originate from the Inguinal ligament, Iliac crest, and the Lumbodorsal (back) fascia and insert on Linea alba, Pectineal Line of Pubis, and ribs 10-12.
The external and internal oblique function both bilaterally and unilaterally. But for our purposes, think of the obliques as a single muscle.
The oblique muscles three primary functions are:
They play a role in creating intra-abdominal pressure which is when you take a deep breath in and tighten your core area before deadlifting or squatting. This action braces your spine to protect it from the compressive and shear loads placed upon it by the barbell. Doing so allows you to handle the heavier load with less injury risk.
But the obliques make their money by protecting your lower back from rotation known as anti-rotation.
Yes, having sleek love handles is amazing but there are a few important benefits of paying attention to your oblique muscles.
Side planks and Pallof press are great oblique exercises but when you’re looking to add strength and muscle and haven’t time for direct core training give these 3 exercises a shot.