The external oblique muscle is one of the outermost abdominal muscles, extending from the lower half of the ribs around and down to the pelvis. Its lowest part connects to the top corner of the pelvis (the crest of the ilium), the bottom-front of the pelvis (the pubis), and the linea alba, a band of fibres that runs vertically along the inside of the abdominal wall. Together, the external oblique muscles cover the sides of the abdominal area. The intercostal and subcostal nerves connect the external oblique muscles to the brain.

The external obliques on either side not only help rotate the trunk, but they perform a few other vital functions. These muscles help pull the chest, as a whole, downwards, which compresses the abdominal cavity. Although relatively minor in scope, the external oblique muscle also supports the rotation of the spine.

Here’s an exercise and progression for working the oblique muscles:

Half side plank:

  • As shown in the video, place your bottom leg at a 90-degree angle and keep the upper leg straight and in the air.

  • Make sure to draw your belly button in and tuck your tailbone under.

Full side plank:

  • For this progression, keep both legs completely straight, as shown in the video.

Work on holding these positions for a length of time, such as 30-45 seconds and try and increase this every workout. Perform on both sides.

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