May is a great month to use the hot weather to lose some extra fat. There is an obvious need to take care while working out in heatwave conditions, but if you workout during the summer months, there is a chance to burn more calories. This is because digestion is slower, food intake is also lower by a couple of hundred calories in general, and the body tends to sweat a lot more.
This doesn’t mean that you put in less effort in your core workouts, and still expect results. Exercising your core muscles in the summer does mean is that you might see quicker results with the same consistency in diet and workouts. And it’s a great time to work on your oblique muscles, which are more often than not covered by a layer of fat, or love handles, as they're more commonly known. Here are five exercises you need to include in your ab workout to hit the obliques.
The dip machine screwdriver: One of my favourite oblique exercises is the dip machine screwdriver. It’s remarkably effective on working the sides of your abdominal muscles, and also easier to do than a lot of other exercises. Once you’re on the dip machine, you need to pull your body up using your obliques rather than your triceps, and experience tells me it is easier to apply mind-muscle connection in this exercise than a lot of other ones which target the same area. Pulling the body up straight will engage the central abdominal muscles and adding a slight tilt and rotation will hit the obliques.
The single arm rotational plank with knee drive: Two things to note while training your obliques is that the right external oblique and left internal oblique rotate the spine left; and the left external oblique and right internal oblique rotate the spine right. What this means is that oblique exercises are designed to offer some rotation. That rotation can be found in the single arm plank with knee drive, with an added twist to load the side of the abs. Without having to use any equipment, the exercise requires you to use a different foot placement compared to the side plank, allowing you to drive your knee towards the opposite hand as a natural movement. A video by Redefining Strength shows the exercise along with some progression movements to get there.
The heel tap: This is the simplest exercise on the list but it is always part of a good oblique workout. All you have to do is lie down on the floor with your knee bent and feet firmly planted, and then touch your heels with your hands. While you do this, you must imagine that you’re reaching the heels by contracting your obliques rather than stretching out the arms. It’s important to consciously engage the core muscles for this move, because that is when the magic happens. Make sure you keep the neck slightly raised to add an extra contraction.
Spider-man Crawls: Ever seen Spider-man crawl across a high-rise in New York? That’s exactly what you have to do, only in the comfort of your home, without moving up a building with 75 floors. The Spider-man Crawl starts in a plank position and then makes you drop your hip as close to the floor as possible, before returning to the starting position. It is almost as if you are crawling up without moving forward, very much like jogging in one spot. An old exercise, the Spider-man Crawl will need some help from other muscles, but make sure you drive from the abdominals for full effect. Even a few will make you sweat.
Medicine Ball Side Throw: Every workout should have one explosive variation which increases the overall power of the muscles being worked on. This is where the medicine ball side throw comes in for the obliques, making you generate enough force from the side of your trunk to throw a weighted ball to one side. Allowing you to use rotation, including from your lower body, this is a fantastic exercise which will have a spillover effect onto the other oblique exercises you do. The weight of the medicine ball can also be increased or decreased as you work up to including this move into your ab workout. Given that it needs some catching and throwing work, the exercise is difficult but also very functional.
Pulasta Dhar is a football commentator and writer.