Is a WIDER waist one of your physique goals? We are guessing the answer is .. no!
But there is a really popular ab exercise you may be doing, that could be giving you bigger obliques. As a result… the appearance of a wider, thicker, and bigger midsection.
This trendy exercise isn’t bad for a small percentage of people. A little further down in this article, we will tell you who may benefit.
But it’s a horrible idea for the vast majority of people reading this.
- Do you have normal to high levels of body fat?
- Do you have a “blocky” or short waist?
- Do you tend to store body fat in your midsection or lower back?
- Are you in the initial stages of fat-loss?
Then you need to … STOP DOING THE WEIGHTED SIDE BEND!
If you subscribe to our YouTube Channel or friends with us on Social Media, then you may be scratching your head right now, saying, “Wait, Vince does these, and now you are telling me they are bad?”
We said that they are bad for MOST people. Just because an exercise is popular doesn’t mean YOU should be doing it.
Monkey see monkey do, should not be a philosophy you use when it comes to ANYTHING health and fitness!
That is why we preach the importance of knowing your body type and why we developed a FREE BODY TYPE QUIZ that anyone can take. It will help you determine the best way to train and eat, based on your personal genetics!
THE WEIGHTED SIDE BEND
Most people do side bends because they’re trying to spot-reduce. They think that doing side bends will somehow magically get rid of love handles.
We can see why you would believe this. We tell you how important lifting weight is for every other part of your body .. so why wouldn’t you think that bending with weight will somehow tone your love handles.
But your obliques (the muscle that runs up and down your sides) are different.
This is a muscle you do not want to grow because it will not help change the shape of your body in a GOOD way!
Some trainers say you should NEVER do this exercise, no matter what.
We are not going to say NEVER, because it can be a decent core exercise for SOME people if done with proper form.
Even then, it is not the best oblique exercise. Many are far superior.
We put together an entire video that explains why the weighted side bend is an exercise you should probably delete from your gym vocabulary.
You will want to watch this one, save it, and have it on hand, so you can share it the next time you see someone attempting to bend their way to a smaller waist!!
Your obliques are a muscle, just like your arms or legs. If you are training them with weight, they’ll most likely grow.
If your goal is to have a smaller waist, you want to focus on strengthening and toning your obliques, not building them.
HOW TO TONE & STRENGTHEN YOUR OBLIQUES
The best love handle exercises are those that involve and target this muscle the way it’s meant to be trained, which is NOT a side-to-side motion like you do with a side bend.
Instead of just BENDING .. you want to focus on rotation.
Your core muscles are designed to resist movement, not create it. When working side to side, you will feel it stretching .. but you aren’t CONTRACTING the muscle.
Instead, you want to think about rotating or resisting rotation.
It would be much better to do things like …
Wood chops, side planks or similar isometric holds, a farmer carry, med ball tosses, or anything else that trains your obliques in a rotational plane.
Another reason you may want to chill out on side bends… they aren’t ideal for you to do long term.
You are holding the weight and doing a lateral spinal flexion, which over time, can place excessive pressure on your spine and can cause nerve impingement.
THE SIDE END EXCEPTION
If you have a longer torso and extremely low levels of body fat, you can probably get away with weighted bending movements. But we still think there are far superior exercises.
We have tons of videos on our YouTube channel for core strength, we also have complete ab programs available that teach you how to train your core!
It would be nice if we could spot reduce fat through diet or exercise, but we can’t.
If your genetics mean that you hold on to fat in your stomach or lower back … it is what it is.
If you want to lose your love handles, you need to focus on OVERALL stomach toning, and most important, losing body-fat.
Doing side bends won’t help. After reading this article, we hope you learned that even worse, they may hurt.
Don’t forget that your genetics will determine the extent to which your obliques will develop “thickness” through exercises like the weighted side bend.
Make sure you take a couple of minutes and check out our FREE BODY TYPE QUIZ!