You can, however, increase the size of the underlying muscles and perhaps reduce the overall effect of the fat's appearance. Whether you increase the amount of muscle, decrease the amount of fat, or both, you're still lowering your BF%, so they should all work. Ways to work the obliques include anything during which you twist or isometrically contract the obliques in order to support yourself or a weight or anything involving leaning to the side. In essence, it's probably necessary to diet to lose the weight because it would take such a tremendous increase in muscle size to reverse the effect of the extra fat. I just wanted to clarify that there is more than one option depending on how covered the muscles are.
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I just about disagree here. If there hereitary like mine were, they aren't going away from diet. You may lose a little of them external obliques, but it is going to take lipo to get them off completely. I know. I remember years ago dieting and doing cardio like crazy and i had my B/F low at 181 lbs. They were still there and just as noticable. Reason cause as I reduced my bodyfat, I also reduced my LBM and they looked just as big.