NEVER Do This Exercise

The Squad August 9, 2012 20

I try very little to use photos of myself on the blog when possible. But because I’m showing you how it will negatively affect your body, probably better to use my own photo than to use someone else’s and offend them by pointing out the bumps their obliques create.

When shooting for the perfectly symmetrical physique, one of the most important aspects to focus on is the v-taper.  The v-taper is when the upper body has a “V” shape.  This is created by building out the shoulders and lats and keeping your waist tight and small.  If you don’t have a v-taper your body will look ‘blocky’ or ‘square.’

Shooting for the perfect taper, it’s important that you focus on all not just building out your shoulders, but also keeping your waist small.  Avoid doing exercises that will make your obliques thick and bulky.  Your external obliques are the muscles that run down the side of your body and are responsible for bending your torso laterally (side bend).  Your internal obliques lie underneath them and are responsible for the movement that twists your torso.

There are many exercises that you can do to effectively work these muscles, but there is also one that you should absolutely avoid.  That exercise is a weighted side bend.  Doing weighted side bends will increase the size of your external oblique and create a ‘blocky’ look.  You can do weighted twists to hit your internal obliques all you want, because doing so actually makes them stronger to pull in your waist.  But doing weighted side bends is a bad, bad idea.

I wish I had known this when I first started working out.  It’s taken me a long time to try to get rid of the muscle in my midsection that was created by doing side bends, and I’ve had to learn how to flex my abs to draw them in to minimize the appearance.  But you can still slightly see how thick they are (in the pic above) after all this time of focusing on bringing them down.  Don’t make the mistake that I made by doing side bends thinking you’re benefitting yourself- you’re actually doing the opposite.

So learn from me and avoid doing exercises that will take you years to counteract!  Side bends are one of them.


  1. Gary Eckel August 9, 2012 at 3:55 pm - Reply

    Hi, Just wanted to know what you think of cycling? I do weights 3-4 times a week, but also cycle (road bike) @ least twice a week for about 30 miles or more. Weights bore me to death, but I know I NEED to do them, but the cycling seems to burn a lot of the muscle off, but also burns A LOT of the fat off and since I am 58 I am very lean for my age (14.7% body fat), and I attribute that to cycling. Many trainers have suggested I do not cycle, however, it is a sport that is great for one’s heart, and at my age keeps me lean. I cannot do the heavy weights anymore (arthritic) so I use lighter weights, stay slim muscular by cycling and sometimes swimming (actually one of the best exercises I think?)
    What is your opinion of all of this?

    Thank you,

    Gary E. Eckel

    • The Squad August 9, 2012 at 5:58 pm - Reply


      I say if it’s working, keep at it. But I will tell you that it’s great to burn fast and calories while you’re cycling, but the more muscle you have, the more fat and calories you’ll burn resting too. So the bad part is that as soon as you’re through cycling, your calorie expenditure quickly drops off. Whereas, with someone who has more muscle they’ll continue to burn clories and fat long into the night- even while they’re sleeping.

      -The Squad

  2. Douglas Cooper August 9, 2012 at 5:51 pm - Reply

    I LOVE reading your suggestions; they reinforce training tips/techniques that I learned years ago but I’ve fallen into some bad habits at the gym. Thanks for the reminders!!!

  3. Eric August 9, 2012 at 6:32 pm - Reply

    Yeah I would hate to make that mistake and end up looking like you in that pic. Very brave of you to show us those flaws! Just kiddong – are you nuts?

  4. jon August 9, 2012 at 8:06 pm - Reply

    Hey Eric,

    Your posts are very helpful. I read them all. I run a lot – about 40 miles a week and do elliptical twice a week . And word abs 3x a week and do the back twice a week. I am 185 at 5ft10″. I have been stuck at this weight for a long time. I want to drop 10 pounds or so. i watch what i eat. What would you suggest.

    • The Squad August 13, 2012 at 1:21 pm - Reply

      Maybe you should change WHAT you eat, instead of just watching what you eat. Your body adapts to the food you eat just as it does with your exercises. If you’re not constantly changing it up, you’ll plateau.

  5. Joshua August 9, 2012 at 9:54 pm - Reply

    Your photo looks pretty good. Is that suposed to show before you were doing the side-lift? Or after?

    • The Squad August 13, 2012 at 1:20 pm - Reply

      It’s a work in progress.

  6. external oblique workout August 10, 2012 at 1:51 am - Reply

    good info, i always wounded how to get that V shape and now thanks to your blog post now i know…


  7. Adrian August 10, 2012 at 9:23 pm - Reply

    What kind exercise can build V shape?

    • The Squad August 13, 2012 at 1:18 pm - Reply

      Adrian, you need to build your shoulders and widen your lats while keeping your waist small. It’s not just a one-exercise thing. It’s an all-around training method.

  8. Derek August 13, 2012 at 1:23 pm - Reply

    Actually there IS one Exercise You can develope a V and that is BACK .. the LAT PULL DOWN for your back.. that creates a V on your back.. YES all around is necesary however.. the BACK is REALLY the main way to get it.. LAT PULL DOWN is what its called.

    • The Squad August 13, 2012 at 1:37 pm - Reply

      No Derek, that’s not true. Building wide lats is an important part of it, but if you don’t also focus on thickening your shoulders and keeping your waist small you won’t gain a taper. It doesn’t matter how wide your lats are if your hips are just as wide, you won’t achieve a v.

  9. derek August 13, 2012 at 1:43 pm - Reply

    okay maybe your right.. so how does one thicken their shoulders then? what should i do to thicken it..? Shoulder press or Shoulder Flys?.. and to get a small waist how does that happen by diet i am guessing?… , i always thought if one already has a smaller waist then all you do is just work on your back to get the v?

  10. Jeremy August 13, 2012 at 8:52 pm - Reply

    You’re full of crap on this one, Eric — the crap of one EXTREMELY narrow opinion of beauty.

    If all bodybuilding judges hold your type of obliques against contestants, I feel sorry for the whole game and question the worthiness of it.

    #1) Your body still generally has a V taper.

    #2) So long as you have the 6-8 pack abdominal definition, everybody can see it’s not fat and you look hot to most people.

    #3) Deliberately neglecting one muscle while building up every other one shows that you’re chasing somebody’s EXTREME opinion of what beauty is, not NATURE’S.

    It’s a subjective, creative opinion that not even all competitive bodybuilding judges share, much less all fit people.

    Jay Cutler does NOT look good. Mr. Olympia is not attractive to most people. Female bodybuilders are gross.

    Step back from the warped viewpoint of these bodybuilding contests before you lose all objectivity and become a hulking steroid mutant with extremely narrow appeal.

    Your obliques look FINE.

    • The Squad August 14, 2012 at 11:41 am - Reply

      Jeremy, you miss the point. I’ve worked hard to counteract the thickness that I put in my obliques, thus you can now see the ‘V’ in my midsection. This blog is “The Hot Bod Squad: Train Smarter. Eat Better. Look Hotter.” It’s not about how to be a bodybuilder, because I agree that look isn’t for me- and most followers of the blog don’t want that either. There are many people who are looking to be a full-fledged bodybuilder, and though they’ll benefit from many of the things on this blog, generally that’s not the purpose of the posts. Every post on the shirt is essentially to give someone tips on how to look better with their shirt off. It’s not to create a narrow opinion of what beauty is, as beauty comes in many shapes and sizes. Thanks for the lecture and missing the entire point.

      • Jeremy September 6, 2012 at 3:47 am - Reply

        I could argue that you’re already bigger than most men who stay fit and that most of them don’t do steroids.

        But setting that aside, twists are just one exercise that hit your obliques from one angle.

        Muscles need to be exercised from a shocking variety of angles to stimulate growth and definition.

        Are twists really the only direction you exercise your obliques from?

        How can you do that without losing definition, size and growth on all sides of the muscles?

        Side bends are the major, contrasting direction with which to exercise the obliques.

  11. Health's Kitchen August 14, 2012 at 11:30 pm - Reply

    This is helpful. I think our HK models and fans would appreciate knowing these tips. -Rob HK

  12. Kevin August 19, 2012 at 4:36 pm - Reply

    Hey Eric,

    Thanks for the tips on weighted side bends. What would you recommend for the obliques to get that V shape going? I already have noticeable abs in the middle, but I want to get my obliques to be more defined. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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