Love handles, the spare tire, the middle age spread: Call it what you will, but nobody likes having excess flab around the waistline (not even when we name it cute things like "muffin" top). And while you can target the oblique muscles located on the sides of your waist by doing specific toning exercises, doing tons of abs moves alone isn’t enough to shrink your waistline. Your best love handle melting strategy involves the same principles for losing weight anywhere on the body: eating better foods (and less in general), and performing both fat-burning cardio along with muscle-toning strength training.
But like any exercise program, you should cater your exercises to your specific goals. And if whittling your waistline is one of your goals, you should be doing exercises to help you reach it.
I designed this workout circuit to help you target your waistline in a smart way: by keeping your heart rate elevated to burn more calories than you would simply lying on the floor and doing crunches. You’ll alternate a cardio move that also targets your core with a traditional oblique toner for maximum benefit.
Warm up for 3-5 minutes by marching in place or walking. Try this workout 1-3 times per week on alternating days.
Cardio Toner 1: Torso Twister (Dancing Twist)
Turn up your favorite song and dance off those love handles with this move! Stand with feet together, arms bent front of chest. Take a step to the left and twist your waist to the left, keeping hips square. Step right foot in, bringing feet together and untwisting torso back to center. Repeat on the right side, and continue stepping/twisting to each side for at least one minute. Turn Up the Burn: Repeat for an entire song.
argeted Toner 2: Belly Blaster (Bicycle Crunches)
This classic move (ranked the 1 most effective move for your abs) activates both the abdominal wall muscles and the obliques. To do it, start lying on your back with knees in table top, hands clasped behind head and shoulder blades off the floor. Extend right leg out almost parallel to the floor, bending left knee into chest as right shoulder twists toward the left knee, then quickly switch to the other side. That’s one rep. Do 20 reps. Be sure to keep elbows wide and avoid pulling on your head with your hands.
Kickboxing is a fun and really effective way to work your obliques since every punch involves the core! This punching combo will work your waist and help you fight off fat at the same time. Stand with feet slightly wider than hip width, knees slightly bent, elbows bent in front of chest, fists near chin. Throw a cross with your right arm by punching across your body, rotating palm down (avoid locking elbow), turning right hip slightly forward and lifting right heel off the floor. Quickly pull arm back in to body and repeat with left arm. (Notice the "turn" or pivot of the body to each side as you punch, which engages the core.) Then immediately block your face with your arms (elbows up) as if trying to avoid a punch by twisting left, then right, keeping hips square and knees bent while you twist. That’s one rep. Repeat for 30 seconds, then switch leading sides for 30 more seconds. Turn Up the Burn: Repeat for an entire song.
Targeted Toner #4: Waist Whittler
You’ll use your abs to control your lower body’s range of motion (like you do in real life activities) with this exercise. Start lying on back with knees bent at 90 degrees over hips, arms extended to sides of shoulders on the floor, palms facing down. Brace abs in tight and squeeze legs together as you lower both legs (maintaining 90 degree position) to the right, keeping both shoulder blades and arms pressed into the floor. Use abdominals and obliques to return legs to starting position, and then repeat to the left. That’s one rep. Do 20 reps in total. Turn Up the Burn: Try extending your legs straight.
Cardio Toner #5: Side Sizzler (Side Knee Strikes)
Power up your heart rate while you work your waist with this kickboxing-inspired cardio burst. Stand on left leg with knee slightly bent, right leg extended out to the side with toes lightly tapped on the floor, arms extended overhead on the left. Bend right knee and lift thigh toward chest while pulling elbows down to the outside of the thigh, twisting to the right. That's one rep. Do as many reps as you can for 30 seconds, then switch sides and repeat. Turn Up the Burn: Repeat for an entire song.
Targeted Toner #6: Muffin Top Melter
(Side Plank Press)
Target your obliques while also engaging your arms, shoulders, hips and legs for a strength building exercise that works multiple muscles simultaneously. Start lying on left side, with left elbow bent under shoulder, propping upper body off the floor, left knee bent, right leg straight, and right arm extended next to the hip, palm facing up. Lift hips off floor, reaching right arm overhead by right ear, with eyes focused down or straight ahead to prevent neck strain. Lower hips and arm. That’s one rep. Try up to 20 in a row and then repeat on the other side. Be sure to keep elbow directly under shoulder joint avoid strain. Turn Up the Burn: Extend both legs out straight into a full side plank instead of keeping bottom knee on bent on the floor.
All Photos by Vanessa Rogers Photography.