If you're looking for a shapely, contoured midsection, you might think that training your abs every day and incorporating heavy weights is the answer. However, this could lead to the opposite of what you're trying to achieve and result in boxy, bulky, or square-looking obliques.
t to mention that certain exercises will meet or fall short of your midsection goals, adding to the confusion surrounding lean oblique training. Fitness icon and professional fitness competitor Monica Brant shares her top tips to help you create strong, smooth obliques and a sculpted midsection.
Do genetics play a role in the shape of your midsection?
In short, absolutely. "There's no doubt that genetics (thanks, mom and dad) play a role in the shape of the obliques," says Brant. The good news is that regardless of your genes and natural shape, there are things you can do to get closer to the "look" you want. "While genetics provide the framework for an aesthetically pleasing core/abdominal area (including the obliques), we can do exercises to improve our structure and exercises that also defeat the purpose," explains Brant.
So how do you achieve a shapely and strong midsection while avoiding a curve? Be sure to grab your notepad and jot down Brant's invaluable details on how she created her incredible body that has earned her titles over the years.
Sprints and proper nutrition: Brant's secret weapons for lean obliques
In the 25 years (1991-2016) that Brant has competed in both fitness and shape, she has found that a focused sprinting program helps create a slim waist (not to mention strong arms). , shoulders, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, etc.). glutes).
“When I competed in the USATF Master's Track meetings in the 100m, 200m and 400m, my body took on a different and better shape in my 40s than it had in all the other years of my competitive career,” she recalls.
During these years, Brant won two world titles in athletics on stage and an overall UK national show. She also competed in the World's Masters track meeting in Brazil, earning two silver, one bronze and two gold medals while also preparing for her figure competitions.
"I've never thought about working my obliques and never felt like they were becoming too muscular or overwhelming the rest of my body," says Brant. "Sprints gave me detailed physique and symmetry, including the obliques."
Of course, diet is key to building any muscle when it comes to reducing body fat. "Eating clean and incorporating IF (intermittent fasting) can help bring out that beautiful abdominal structure because it helps reduce the visceral fat that resides deep in the waist area," she says.
"The reduction in visceral fat gives the impression of a smaller waist and tighter obliques," adds Brant. It's also healthier to have less fat.
5 exercises to avoid for a smaller waist
In Brant's experience and opinion, these are some of the exercises to avoid if you're aiming for a smaller waist.
- Weighted side bends
- sit ups
- Weighty Russian phrases
- Weighted chops
- Leg raises with weights
So what steps should you take to achieve a smaller waist? Brant created this workout specifically for those aiming for a more athletic waistline.
Monica Brant's Training Tips:
- These exercises can be done with fewer seconds of work time while building stamina and mental toughness to move on to longer exercises. Find your skills and level up from there.
- A free tabata timer app for your device is easy to find and the sets/rests can be quickly adjusted to suit your needs.
Brant explains that any variation of an elbow sideplank, with or without hip raises or leg raises, strengthens and tones the core while avoiding a boxy look.
If you're new to these moves, Brant recommends simply holding the plank at the top and pressing your upper hips toward the ceiling/sky for maximum strength.
Once the hold side plank comes easily, Brant recommends that you begin moving in this position by lowering your hips down and then gently pushing them back up to feel the muscles work, and taking the time to breathe properly.
"These moves will tone your abs while also helping to strengthen the muscles in your glutes," says Brant. An added bonus for strong smooth slashes!
Get the midsection you've been dreaming of now!
Monica Brant's workout for lean obliques and a sexy midsection
Depending on your level of physical fitness, Brant explains that you can do these five exercises and complete them in the routines below. "Weights and other machines aren't necessary to strengthen the core," says Brant, who prefers to do all the exercises with just bodyweight. These moves can be performed anywhere, which is a bonus.
How one: Perform each exercise for 60 seconds with a 10-20 second rest in between.
- 1 round, perform each exercise for 60 seconds. This corresponds to 5 minutes of work.
- 5 rounds x 60 seconds per exercise = 25 minutes of work