Oblique Muscles of The Abdomen
The Internal Oblique Muscles are essentially the muscles that make up the lateral wall of your abdomen and look AMAZING when they are worked out and consequently look very defined.
The Oblique Muscles consist of a group of three muscles.
- The external oblique muscle
- The internal oblique muscle
- The transversus abdominis muscle
The external oblique muscle
The external oblique muscle sits on top of the internal oblique muscles and is responsible for the defined athletic look when people are ripped with low body fat percentages.
The external oblique is a thin, broad sheet that originates on the iliac crest and inserts on either side of the rectus sheath at a point below Poupart’s ligament. Essentially it spans between your pelvis and rib cage.
It is usually subdivided into two parts: superficial and deep.
The external oblique muscle assists in flexing, rotating and laterally flexing
The internal oblique muscles
The internal oblique muscle also called “obliquus externus abdominis” or “obliquus internus abdominis” sits beneath your external “visible” obliques.
It wraps around the side of the abdomen and attaches to the iliac crest and ribs.
The primary purpose of the internal oblique is to allow torso rotations, and when they contract they cause the abdomen organs to shift up higher into the chest cavity.
Did You Know…
that your internal oblique muscles also contribute to respiration? The internal obliques are a secondary respiration muscle and assist by reducing abdomen volume to help when you exhale air from your lungs.
The transversus abdominis muscle
The transversus abdominis muscle is a broad sheet of muscle that wraps around the abdomen and lies deep beneath the other abdominal muscles.
It helps to compress the abdominal contents and maintain intra-abdominal pressure.
It is also known as the “corset muscle” because it compresses and supports the abdomen of your body as a traditional clothing corset would.
How Do Internal Oblique Muscles Affect Your Body?
The internal oblique muscle is one of the muscles that is most often used in everyday life. It is responsible for bending to the side and twisting your torso.
The internal oblique muscle has a crucial role in maintaining the stability of our spine. It also helps us to maintain balance and stability during movement, especially when we are walking around or sprinting.
The most common movements that we make with this muscle are twisting and bending sideways.
Example Movement – Moving your right shoulder to your left hip
If you want to move your right shoulder to your left hip, your muscles will act as follows:
- Your Right external oblique will contract
- Your Left internal oblique will contract
- Your torso will rotate and your right shoulder will move toward your left hip
Why You Need to Strengthen & Stretch The Internal Oblique Muscles
The internal oblique muscle is the deepest of the three oblique muscles in the human body.
Most bodybuilders simply focus too much on the visible external obliques and forget to stretch and strengthen their internal obliques.
The internal oblique muscle is responsible for lateral flexion, compression, and rotation of your torso.
Reasons you should strengthen your internal oblique muscles:
- Lengthening this muscle can help improve posture
- Increase functional mobility.
- Strengthening this muscle can also help relieve lower back pain by reducing stress on the spine.
- Reduce the chances of injury in workouts
- Creates a solid foundation for your external obliques to sit on
- Will contribute to a more muscular look when your bodyfat is lower
- Assist holding your internal torso organs in place to look slimmer
The internal obliques are often neglected during stretches or exercises because they are difficult to reach without using a yoga mat or a ball for support.
This is, however, a big misconception in the fitness world, and strengthening your internal obliques is very easy to do.
The internal oblique muscle is a deep muscle that can be found on the side of your abdomen. It has many functions, including stabilizing your spine and pelvis, holding your abdominal organs in place, and helping you bend sideways.
This muscle is also one of the most important muscles for weight loss because it helps you to compress fat and keep it from spilling over. This can lead to better abs and a slimmer waistline.
What is a Good Exercise to Strengthen The Internal Oblique Muscles?
In this section, we will be discussing the benefits of an exercise to strengthen the internal oblique muscles and how to perform them.
The best way to strengthen this muscle is through exercises such as planks, rotations, squats, or crunches with weights or without weights. The main exercises are:
- Laying Down Side Plank
- Trunk Rotations
- Alternate Crunches
- Weighted Wood Chop
- Mountain Climbers (Knee to chest exercise from press-up position)
- Weighted Side Bends
Exercises For Internal Oblique Muscles
Laying Down Side Plank
The laying-down side plank really does punch your internal obliques hard. This exercise consists of two primary movements, first straightening your hip and then bracing your core while lifting your leg into the air.
- Lay down on your right side, support your weight between your right leg, hip, and bent elbow
- Your left hand should be seated on your left hip
- The first movement is to tense your core to lift your right hip off the floor and straighten yourself
- The second movement is to raise your left arm in the air while simultaneously scissoring your legs apart x5 times.
- Return back to the starting position (this is counted as 1 repetition)
- You can also wear a weighted hip belt to increase the intensity of the exercise
Trunk Rotations are great for building internal oblique muscles. They are very forgiving, easy to do, and great for people with mobility issues such as arthritis. The exercise can be performed in two ways, by either hugging a weight or using a long pole.
Weighted Trunk Rotations
- Begin standing with feet shoulder-width apart
- Hug a weight plate, dum bell, or medicine ball
- Keep your core tensed and elbows tucked into the weight you are holding
- Keep your head and chest aligned and rotate to the left, hold for 2 seconds
- Return to the starting position and repeat for the right side rotation.
Long Pole Trunk Rotations
- Begin standing with feet shoulder-width apart
- Rest a pole, stick, or barbell on your shoulders and grasp firmly with your hands
- Keep your core tensed and elbows tucked into your ribs
- Keep your head and chest aligned and swing quickly to the left
- As you come towards your maximum swing, brace your muscles to stop the rotational movement
- From this stationary position, repeat the exercise by swinging to the right side
Alternate Crunches are great Internal Oblique Muscle building exercises. They also stimulate your rectus abdominis muscle (6-pack). If you would like to increase the intensity of this calisthenic exercise, you can simply hold some weight plates or a heavy medicine ball.
- Begin laying flat on the ground on your back
- Raise your knees until your feet are planted flat on the floor
- Cup both hands over your ears so your elbows are pointed outwards
- Tense your abdomen muscles and bring your right elbow toward your left knee
- Hold for a moment and squeeze your internal obliques
- reverse the exercise back to the starting position and repeat for the other side
Weighted Wood Chop
Personally, I feel the weighted Wood Chop exercise targets the inner obliques better if you use a cable machine at the gym. Start with low weight and use either a rope attachment or a handle.
- Add a low weight to the cable machine
- Using the handle or rope in the upper position of the machine you will be pulling downwards
- Grip the handle with two hands raised in the air together
- Swing the weight down across your body
- Tense your obliques when you reach the opposite side hip
- Perform 10 to 12 reps
- Repeat by standing the other way for another 10 to 12 reps
This exercise is simple to perform and is a common warm-up or yoga exercise. To perform this exercise you should already know how to plank and be able to support your own body weight unassisted.
- Begin in the push-up position on the floor
- Engage your internal oblique muscle and raise your knee to your chest
- Your toe should be off the ground until you return to the starting position
- Repeat 10 to 12 reps, then swap legs and work the other side
Weighted Side Bends
Weighted Side Bends really pack muscle mass onto your torso side walls! You are best using a heavy dum bell or kettlebell to give added resistance.
- Begin standing with legs shoulder-width apart
- Holding a weight in one hand with your arm straight and tucked into your body
- Slowly allow yourself to pivot at the hips and lower the weight toward the ground
- When you reach the lowest position you can get to, pause then return to the starting position
- Perform 10 to 12 repetitions then swap the weight into your other hand and repeat.
Squats are one of the most important muscle-building exercises you can possibly do. For the sake of building and strengthening your internal obliques, it would be best to perform weighted-back squats using a barbell.
- Using a squat rack, load up the barbell to a comfortable weight (aiming for 6 reps)
- Position yourself under the bar so it rests on your shoulders with your knees bent
- When ready, engage your core muscles and burst upwards to a standing position
- Slowly lower the weight down so you are in a crouched ball position (just beyond 45 degrees)
- Pause at the bottom
- Explode upwards keeping your back straight until you reach the standing position
- Repeat another 5 reps
- Adjust the weight accordingly to get 6 reps on each set
Oblique Muscles Strain
It is a very uncommon injury for people to strain their internal oblique muscles. This injury is commonly referred to as “Side Strain”
Side Strain is usually diagnosed by a localized area of discomfort that appears out of nowhere across the ribs. This is usually described as a stabbing sharp pain.
The activities which can cause Internal Oblique Muscles Strain are:
Sometimes when performing the motions required in the above sports like throwing, swinging, or twisting, the internal oblique muscle contracts eccentrically, which causes injury.
Internal Oblique Muscles Strain injuries often affect the side of your non-dominant arm.
Oblique Muscles Pain
In addition to causing Side-Strain, some patients also complain of pain in the bladder and urinary system, which is a side-effect of straining your internal oblique muscles.
Injury to the oblique muscles can in some people also lead to incontinence. If a person exhibits any of these painful and embarrassing signs, prompt medical treatment and care should be given.
Athletes should be aware that the oblique muscles’ symptoms and discomfort can mimic a variety of acute and chronic diseases, some of which can be fatal.
A medical assessment must be performed by a qualified doctor if the pain and symptoms persist in order to rule out a significant medical problem.
Internal Oblique Muscles Conclusion
Building strong and flexible internal obliques is crucially important to your health, well-being, and fitness goals. Without a strong internal oblique muscle foundation, you cannot support your more visible external obliques.
If you want to avoid injury, improve your core strength, and look more aesthetically muscular, you should 100% consider adding internal oblique exercises to your workout schedule.
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