How to Stretch External Obliques

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External obliques are the large, flat muscles that sit on either side of your abdomen and boy, do they love to be stretched. You can feel good, increase flexibility and gain muscle tone when you stretch external obliques. Here’s how.

Things You'll Need

  • Weights
  • Balance ball (optional)
  • Take a deep side stretch. Place your feet a little more than shoulder width apart and scoop your right arm to your side and above your head as you bend as far as you can to the left, scooping your left arm in an arc below your waist. Repeat on other side.

  • Grab a dumbbell with your the lower arm and pull it down alongside your leg as you do a side stretch.

  • Twist by holding a weight with both hands at waist level and turning to the right, then the left, back and forth for a count of up to 60 or more.

  • Lie on your stomach, placing your palms by your shoulders, and slowly rise up from above the waist, supporting your upper body with your arms and leaving your hips and lower body on the floor. This is comparable to yoga’s cobra pose.

  • Do a backbend. This can either be accomplished by draping yourself backwards over an inflatable ball, keeping your feet firmly on the floor, or by doing a full-fledged backbend. Start by lying on your back with your feet firm on the floor and your palms near your shoulders. Flex up and say “ahhhhhh.”

Tips & Warnings

  • These are just a few of the many exercises that stretch out the external obliques. Once you are used to what they feel like to be stretched, you can adapt and create more.
  • Do each stretch to your fullest capacity for maximum effect.

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  • Photo Credit Illustration from BONY YOGA book by Ryn Gargulinski
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