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Do side bends with just a single dumbbell.
The dumbbell side bend is one of the most popular exercises for targeting the oblique muscles. Having an adequate amount of strength in your obliques is important for being able to maintain proper posture so that the spine is protected. The obliques feature two separate heads and both heads are recruited when you're performing side bends.
Side Bending Correctly
The side bend is an exercise that is commonly performed incorrectly, which prevents it from being effective for developing your obliques. Grip a single dumbbell and, while standing, hold it down at your side with your palm facing in toward your thighs. Begin with your torso upright. If you're holding the dumbbell with your left hand, then tilt your torso to the left to lower the left dumbbell down toward your knee. Return to upright and then bend your torso to the right. Keep movements slow and controlled and avoid allowing your shoulders to twist when you're bending. After you're finished with the set, perform a set while holding the dumbbell in your other hand.
The muscle fibers of the obliques originate at your lower seven ribs and then run down your torso and insert at your pelvic and pubis bones. The obliques, which run down on either side of your torso, are responsible for a variety of movements around the spine. When you twist your torso, your obliques are responsible for the movement. During side bends, the obliques flex the spine laterally.
Your obliques consist of both external and internal heads and when you're performing the dumbbell side bend, both heads are recruited. When you're holding the dumbbell in your left hand and bending toward your right, it's your right external and internal oblique heads that are recruited. When you bend to the left with the dumbbell in your right hand, it's the left internal and external heads that handle the movement.
Side Bend Considerations
When you're performing side bends, avoid using an extremely heavy weight. While you may be interested in challenging your obliques, too much lateral compressive stress on your spine can cause an injury, for example, a herniated disc. Also limit the amount of stress placed on your spine by not bending too far to the side. Don't lower the dumbbell more than six inches when you're bending.