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Exercising your obliques will not make them significantly bulkier.
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Your oblique muscles are located along the sides of your waist. However, it is very difficult and time-consuming to exhaust your abs to the point where they build significant amounts of muscle. So, while exercising your obliques will help them gain width from extra muscle, the increase will be so slight it will be hardly noticeable, so your waist will not appear much thicker or wider. You can, however, exercise your obliques to tone your stomach and build core strength.
Your oblique muscles are made up of external and internal obliques. Both obliques are responsible for rotating your trunk from side-to-side, although your external obliques work in opposition, while your internal obliques are same-side muscles. This means that when you turn to the left, your right side external obliques and your left side internal obliques are used. Your obliques run not only along the front sides of your waist, but also along the back, providing support all around your trunk.
Why It's Hard
As relatively small muscles, building bulky obliques - meaning muscles that are as thick as your biceps, hamstrings or glutes - is impossible. As well, your obliques are required for only a very small range of motion - turning or bending from side to side. Because of this, most oblique exercises work your obliques no more than 30 to 45 degrees. As a result, even if you are using weights, it can be incredibly difficult to exhaust your oblique muscles, which is needed in order to build bulk.
Benefits of Exercising Your Obliques
In addition to improving your core stability and strength, working your obliques will help build your abdominal muscles. Strong and developed obliques can help frame your front-facing abdominals, as well as set off your chest and hip muscles, giving them a larger appearance. If you have minimal body fat, strong obliques can give your abdominal area a trimmer appearance. Exercising your obliques will also help you keep from developing a muscle imbalance in your waist, which can adversely affect your posture.
To workout your oblique muscles, the bicycle crunch is one of the most effective, also helping you build your front abs and providing a bit of a cardio workout. Lying on your back, bend your elbows and place your hands behind your head. Bend both knees, forming a 90-degree angle between your calves and hamstrings. Keep your feet spaced hip-width apart. Bring your right elbow diagonally up across your chest and then bring your left knee diagonally up to meet it. Fully extend your right leg as you do so. Bring your right elbow and left foot back to the starting position and then bend your right knee, bringing it up to meet your left elbow near the center of your chest. Fully extend your left leg as you do so. This is one rep. Do a total of four sets of 10 reps.