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Dumbbell Side Bends For Oblique Abdominal Muscles

Athletes to strengthen the oblique abdominal muscles and reduce the volume of the waist perform torso bends to the side with dumbbells. However, despite the simple technique, the exercise is often included in the training process incorrectly, which leads to the exact opposite results. The waist increases in width due to the development of muscles, and the fat layer does not shrink by a centimeter.

Let’s figure out how you need to do standing dumbbell side bends to achieve exactly the goal you planned, specifically weight loss.

What muscles are involved?

When you do lateral side bends with dumbbells or other weight, the main load falls on the external oblique abdominal muscles. These muscles create a characteristic curve of the silhouette if they are worked well. The load also falls on the abdominal muscle, the internal oblique muscles, and stabilizers.

You should remember that by performing a lateral tilt, you create a certain load on the lumbar spine. Therefore, it is extremely important to follow the correct technique. It’s not recommended to do torso tilts if you have any problems with the back.

Exercise technique

Side bends with weight is not a difficult exercise. Even beginners can perform it without any difficulty.

The technique for performing the exercise is as follows:

  • Your feet should be placed at shoulder width. Take a dumbbell in one hand, put the other on the belt, or put it behind the head

  • Your abs should be tensed, shoulders straightened, hips fixed (they should not move left-right), coccyx twist forward. There should be no flexion in the lower back

  • Leans should be done in a strictly vertical plane until you are in a comfortable position. First, you bend to the side with dumbbells (the opposite side of the body stretches at this moment), then gently move to the side bending away from the dumbbell (this is when the oblique muscles are working). During the movement the abs are tense, they do not relax for a second. The dumbbell moves strictly along the leg

If it’s difficult for you to perform a dumbbell side bend on straight legs, you can slightly bend the knees.

Improper execution of bends can cause several problems:

  • When bending with the abdomen relaxed and the lower back bent, the load is not on the oblique muscles, but on the lumbar spine. It’s fraught with compression injuries, up to the appearance of hernias. Of course, in this case, any weight loss is out of the question

  • Turning the body during the exercise can lead to abrasion of the intervertebral discs and pinching of the nerve endings

  • Training with large and medium weights will contribute to the growth of oblique muscles. And this will only increase the width of the waist

How to train properly?

To lose weight and reduce the fat layer on the sides and abdomen, the exercise should be performed according to the following scheme:

  • First of all, you need to overcome in yourself the desire to use a dumbbell of large weight. Firstly, it is dangerous for the spine. Secondly, training with heavy weights leads to the growth of muscles. You don’t want to increase the volume of oblique muscles, don’t you? Weights should be no more than 5-7 kg for men and no more than 3-5 kg for women. It is better to take a smaller weight but to do more reps

  • You must do no less than 20 reps, 3-4 approaches on each side. Rest between approaches should be minimal. Alternate left and right approaches

  • Reps are done at a relatively quick pace, but without jerks and with tense abs

  • Dumbbell side bends are better to include in the training program as an additional exercise. That is you leave it for the end of the workout when the main exercises are already done

A significant fat-burning effect is achieved only with appropriate dietary adjustments. Also, the weight loss process will go faster with an increase in cardio loads.

There is a popular myth that exercise can remove fat in a certain part of the body. However, there is no such thing as localized weight loss, and until a certain calorie deficit is created, fat deposits on the waist and flanks will not begin to decrease, no matter how many bends you do. 

sideways bends

Bending over is not enough to lose weight. Your diet needs to be adjusted.

What to do if your goal is not to burn fat, but to work the abs? In such a situation it should be said that the oblique muscles, one way or another, are involved in the work when performing any exercises on the abs. Additional load with bends, of course, possible, but the main thing is to strictly follow the technique.

To work out the muscles:

  • Dumbbell side bends are performed slowly

  • Do 2-3 approaches, 8-12 reps to each side. Alternate left and right approaches

  • Do not use a big weight in this case either

Exercise variations

In the absence of dumbbells, side bends can be done:

1Without equipment. In this case, both hands are fixed at the waist. To make the task a little more difficult, you can raise your arms above your head
2With a barbell bar or body bar on the shoulders
3In the crossover (when bending over, one hand pulls down the upper block)
4With a kettlebell, deadlift, or any other weight
In general, everyone decides for himself whether to use different dumbbell side bends in the training program. However, if you know how to do them correctly, you are guaranteed to be able to strengthen oblique abdominal muscles and achieve beautiful shapes.

Remember the main thing, namely, to lose weight. Training should be combined with cardio exercises and a balanced diet.

I'm a professional fitness instructor and nutritionist, runner, husband and father. I do my best in providing the right guidance when it comes to the grounds of sexual health, nutrition and common fitness.

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