Sideways crunches which are also called oblique crunches train your core which is essential for the overall stability of body. It directly works on your obliques in the abdominal region which enhances your mobility. And postural health and gives your body an aesthetic look.
Adding oblique crunches to your abs workout routine. Helps you to perform several load-lifting exercises with ease as it builds your core. Which makes sure you don’t feel fatigued easily while performing advanced variations of several chest, legs, and back workouts.
Obliques can be broadly categorized into two parts. Internal Obliques and External Obliques as sideways crunches involved rotational torque through bodyweight. Which helps in the development of both areas.
There are multiple variations of side crunches. Some of them are really effective when performed with or without equipment. After the workout session and popular among fitness enthusiasts. But before discussing them I would like to start with a little explanation about Oblique and its types.
Oblique and its types
Oblique muscles form a wall in the abdominal region which through core support maintains the correct posture while preventing any internal injuries to the organs.
Obliques can be divided into two types namely internal obliques and external obliques forming the sidewalls of the core region. Along with the stability of the abdominal area, obliques are also responsible to help with the rotatory and swing movements.
Internal obliques are present in the lower ribs and hip region which helps in maintaining the stability of the body while walking, running, swing movements, and bending.
They also help in rotation and bending of the torso which in turn helps when you breathe out or exhale comfortably.
External obliques are present in the rib cage and the pelvis region and unlike internal obliques, they are thin layered muscle groups that help in supporting the trunk and work in the close vicinity with internal obliques in the rotary movement.
They are also responsible to impart power to your movements through the core area in a stable body posture.
Popular Types of Side Crunches
Lying Sideways Crunches Or Oblique Crunches
Lying side crunches is the name given to the traditional Oblique crunches which not only tone your abdominal muscles but also improve your core stability. Oblique crunches also help to prevent back injuries during other exercises by strengthening your core muscles and agility.
As obliques are responsible for postural health to the great extent it is very important to perform lying side crunches in the right form.
Lie down flat on the floor with your legs on the ground. you can use a yoga mat if you’re not comfortable.
Make sure there is no excessive strain on your neck by keeping one hand on the ground or both on the chest for support. First, turn on the left side lowering your knees legs one over the other, and hip firmly fixed on the ground. Keep your spine neutral as it would prevent any problem related to the spine and the neck area which are quite involved in this whole exercise.
Now slowly raise your upper body and shoulder blades a few inches from the ground while squeezing your abdominal area without any jerk or involving other muscle groups. Bring your body back to the starting position with your head on the ground again. This completes one rep of side crunches.
Sideways V Crunches
If you want to engage your abdominal wall and train them you can try side v crunches which are the advanced variation of oblique crunches. Sideways V Crunches build your core, improves mobility, and tone your oblique muscles.
How to: Start with laying on the ground or the yoga mat with your legs fully extended. Now turn yourself to the left side with your right hand supporting your head.
Firmly push your both legs carefully pinned against each other and at the same time raise them touching your right knees squeezing your abs muscles. Hold the position and slowly return to the starting position.
Reps: 5-10 reps in each set on either side is sufficient to see desirable results.
Standing Sideways Crunches
Among all the variations of bodyweight, side crunches Standing Side Crunches burn the most calories and are relatively easy to perform while working on your side abs wall and posture stability. Standing Side Crunches also increase your dynamic flexibility and degree of movement.
How to: Stand straight with your back straight and feet wide apart and both hands behind your head. Lift your right knee. Bring your elbow towards the knee while leaning in such a way you feel the tension in your side abs.
Now return back to the starting position and repeat the movement on the other side for the desired number of reps.
Reps: 8 to 10 reps on both sides at the end of your regular workout routine.
Is it bad to do side crunches?
The oblique muscles are quite unique and side crunches work out. Target them with great stress which can rapidly build your abdominal strength. But if the correct form is not maintained it can cause postural defects and injuries in the core.
Some people think side crunches are overrated and outdated as it’s hard to keep your spine neutral. It increases stress and reliability over the flexor which results in long-term spine problems and pain and hence is not right for everyone.
Overall, I’m of the belief that they are rather good as it trains your obliques from ribs to pubic and anterior.
Do side crunches make your waist bigger?
Obliques are present on both sides of your abdominal area under the body fat. Side crunches workout directly to train your inner obliques. Which are present for stability and external obliques which are present as the thin wall on the outer side.
Regularly and extensively hitting your obliques results in widening your waist and cutting off the fat. Which covers the side area of the abdominal by broadening your inner and outer obliques wall which is not a desirable effect.
Why are side crunches so hard?
Side crunches if done in the wrong form can put excessive strain on your neck muscles. Which can result in postural deformity so it becomes really important to take care of your posture while performing the side crunches.
It is also interesting to note that side crunches involve your back especially the spine and your flexor. Which is a part of your lower back region. Tightening of the flexor muscles and stiffness of the spine can cause severe injuries and long-term lower back and spine pain.
Also, note that side crunches workout only targets just the inner and outer obliques. Which form a small part of the whole abdominal area. There are many abs workouts that are more effective while targeting your core which leads to the common belief.
Are side crunches good for love handles?
Some people think as side crunches hit the internal and external obliques they can help you to get rid of the love handles but is it true?
Endlessly performing Side Crunches alone cannot be effective to reduce love handles. For those who don’t know love handles are the common name for the side abdominal fat. Look awkward hanging over the pants and is very common among women after giving birth.
However, side crunches along with a proper diet plan, and changing your lifestyle habits can certainly do wonders. in short, consume fewer calories and burn more if you want to get rid of love handles.
How many side crunches should I do and for how long?
Adding side crunches to your exercise routines can be tricky. As most abs workouts are more effective when performed. At the end of your regular workout session. Core muscles are involved in almost all of the chest, legs, and shoulders workouts they are already conditioned and warmed up at the end so abs workouts can result in more muscle growth.
For the same reason, it becomes really important to keep the workout load and frequency under control. If you’re just starting out to prevent overstrain and fatigue. Working extensively on your obliques can create serious issues related to the spine and lower back area.
My thumb rule is if you’re a beginner you can perform. 3 sets of any two variations with 8-10 reps each. If you’re someone who’s comfortable with the routine you can increase the reps in the consecutive sets from 8 to 15.