Are you making your waist wider?
Following on from my post about making your waist “smaller” by performing the “stomach vacuum” (if you missed it, see it HERE https://howistayfit.com/training/stomach-vacuum/), let me now talk about a way that you might unintentionally be making your waist “bigger”!
As discussed previously, to train the Transversus Abdominus muscle, it essentially helps make your waist “smaller” / “flatter” from a side-on view. However, you could very well be making a mistake in the abs exercises you are doing, and you may be making your waist wider!
Sounds terrible, right? I don’t think anyone would want a “bigger” waist, especially since it detracts from the V-taper look just about all of us are going for!
The exercise I want to talk about is the Oblique Side Bend.
Your external obliques are the abdominal muscles that run either side of the six pack (Rectus Abdominus) from the ribs down to the hips. When toned and developed, if your body fat is low enough to display them, they look pretty damn cool.
But here’s the thing. I see a lot of people (especially girls for some reason) doing heavy oblique training in the gym. I blame Instagram for this, but that’s a topic for another day! Anyway, heavy oblique training can include standing side bends holding a heavy dumbbell (or a heavy kettlebell or a weight plate), heavy side bends on the hyperextension machine, or heavy side bends on the lower back extension resistance machine, just to give a few examples. It can also include weighted twisting and torso rotational exercises too. In my opinion, these are a mistake.
Doing heavy oblique work can hypertrophy your obliques (make them grow bigger), which will give you a blockier waist and hips from the front view (and back view). This can mean added mass to your “love handles” area.
I will admit that I don’t have studies to back this up, only my experience of what I see from time spent in the trenches. People might argue that abs muscle are like the muscles of the calves or traps, in that how much they grow is very much defined by genetics, and that they are “stubborn” muscles that are difficult to grow. I would say that I agree somewhat, but I do strongly believe that if you train ANY muscle group hard enough for long enough, it will eventually inevitably grow.
You may be asking “what about for functional training and core stability? What should you do instead?”
Nothing. Seriously, one option is to do nothing. I believe that your obliques will get stimulated enough through performing any compound lifts that engage your core, like squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses for example. And I’ll assume that most of us are doing these exercises anyway…or if you’re not, maybe you should! Plus, I believe that your obliques get enough additional activation through your standard abs exercises like crunches and leg raises anyway.
Another option could be to only perform oblique training with “light weights” or no weights at all. Bodyweight side crunches and side planks are a good example of this, or torso rotations with light weight.
Just my opinion here. Anyway, I’m going to go make a protein shake now. I’m out.