Following on from Sophie’s tush toning tips, Teresa gives us a look at her top 3 side toning exercises.

So if you play tennis, golf or any sports that require rotational and flexion movement, make sure you strengthen and stretch those “obliques”.

Strengthening the oblique muscles will not only help you tone your waist, but more importantly will assist with front and lateral flexion and rotation of the trunk as well as its stabilisation. The external oblique muscles also assist in forced expiration, and the internal oblique assists with respitation helping to reduce the volume of the chest cavity during expiration.

The following are some of my favourite moves (I have too many favourites).

1. Side bend on the short box.

As I was beginning to write this blog, one of my clients mentioned I teach this exercise on a regular basis, which I hadn’t realised until she pointed it out, and she has really noticed a difference on her waist and strength. I can also even hear the “oh Jesus” of relief when this move is over!

We start side sitting on the box with one foot under the foot-strap and the other leg bent on the box. We lengthen the torso until we find a long diagonal line making sure hips and shoulders are on top of each other. The leg that is under the foot strap stays parallel, straight and lifted off the reformer – this is going to give us enough support. Arms can be crossed around your chest, opened into a T position, behind the head or over the head for increased challenge. Inhale as we side bend towards the floor, exhale as we side bend towards the footbar. We make sure the pelvis stays quiet only moving torso imagining we are moving like a screenwiper. Repeat few times and change to the other side.

2. Longbox kneeling.

Another favourite of mine! I would use a blue or a red spring but you can always adjust that depending on strength or injuries. This move also works on glutes (bonus!), shoulders and back strength.

We kneel on the long box facing away from the footbar making sure the shoulders are on top of the wrists, and hips on top of knees. Placing the long strap on the right foot, we extend the leg towards the footbar keeping both hips aligned and start bending the knee towards the chest and straighten it back towards the footbar. Repeat a few times.
Second variation. We keep the leg straight and we slide it down to the side of the reformer and back to the starting point. We repeat on the other side.

With both versions we keep equal weight on both sides and we keep pressing the hands into the box making sure we don’t “collapse” into our shoulders. And I always love to finish up with pulses and circles to really feel those glutes!

3. Twist.

A little bit more advanced, this one can also be done at home and there’s a variation for those who want less challenge.

We start side sitting with one hand on the floor (or footplate) slightly forward from the shoulder. We stretch the legs to the side with the top foot over the bottom one. Exhale and lift the hips and reach the top arm towards the ceiling finding a long diagonal line with your body. We rotate the torso sending the top arm under the opposite side of your torso and sending the hips towards the ceiling (inverted V). We go back into the starting point and we repeat a few times. You know what Pilates instructors are like, we say five more, you do 10 more!
A variation is to leave both hands on the floor.

And that’s it! These are just 3 of the wide repertoire of oblique exercises and it was so hard to pick only 3!

Come and join me in class and give them a go. If you have any questions about them, please do ask! Always take care when performing these at home and make sure you are doing them correctly. Enjoy.

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