Why You Should Stop Doing Dumbbell Side Bends At The Gym

Many people long for sculpted abs. While your diet is the most important factor in allowing your muscles to show, you need to have muscles in the first place. A workout routine that strengthens your abdominal muscles will give you the toned look you're hoping for. There are many ab exercises to choose from, and some are very effective while others should be skipped.

According to NBC News, dumbbell side bends are one of the exercises to skip. These hardly work the oblique muscles at all and put extra strain on your spine. "It's easy to use momentum and rock side to side, which can put strain on the lower back and decrease isolation in the targeted muscle group," said Nikki Snow, a Les Mills International trainer based in Chicago. Instead of dumbbell side bends, try a side plank with a hip lift. To perform this exercise, lie on your side using your forearm and elbow for support. Keeping your feet, hips, and shoulders aligned, lift your hips toward the ceiling and lower them toward the floor. Repeat this exercise for about 30 seconds.

Other oblique exercises to try

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to sculpt your oblique muscles. According to Men's Health, an offset dumbbell squat works your legs and core by forcing your obliques to keep you balanced during the movement. Set a dumbbell on one shoulder and support it with your hand. Perform a regular squat movement while focusing on keeping your core balanced. A single-arm farmer's carry is another great oblique move. For this move, you'll want to pick the heaviest dumbbell you can carry without compromising good posture. Hold the dumbbell at your side with your palm facing your thigh. Brace your abdominal muscles and walk for 30 seconds to one minute at a time. Switch sides when you're finished.

One more oblique exercise to try is called bird dog. Get on your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. After bracing your core muscles, lift your left arm and right leg at the same time, extending each out as far as you can. Hold the outstretched position for five to 10 seconds before returning to the starting position. Repeat with the other arm and leg.