These quick, targeted moves tone your entire midsection.
Love handles are a tricky area to target; sometimes it feels like they’ll hold on for dear life no matter how much you tone the rest of your body. The secret—other than good nutrition—is to perform a combination of moves that strengthen your core (like these three), rather than just going for the classic crunches. That’s exactly what this routine does, stringing together a series of moves with twists, crunches, and planks for a serious fat-blast. After running through three sets of each move, your abs and obliques will feel like they’re on fire—just be sure to engage your core the entire time to really maximize those results.
Bye-Bye Love Handles Workout
How it works: Run through each exercise as described, then repeat the entire workout 2 to 3 times. You’ll need a set of medium-weight dumbbells.
1. Standing Oblique Crunch
A. Start standing on left leg with right leg pointed out to the side and right arm reaching above head.
B. Crunch right elbow to right knee. Return to start.
Do 25 reps on each side.
2. Long Arm Long Leg Reach
A. Stand on left leg, knee slightly bent, with right leg pointed out to the side. Put your left hand on hip, right arm reaching above head.
B. Raise right leg and lower right arm to meet at hip height. Return to start.
Do 25 reps on each side.
3. Side Bend
A. Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells in right hand.
B. Keeping core tight, bend at right hip reaching right hand toward ground. Return to start.
Do 15 to 25 reps on each side.
4. Side Lying Reach
A. Lie on the ground on right side with right arm reaching above head.
B. Raise left leg about 1 to 2 feet.
C. Raise right leg to meet left, lifting your shoulders off the ground and reaching left arm toward feet. Return to start.
Do 15 to 25 reps on each side.
5. Side Plank Hip Dip
A. Start in a right forearm side plank with left arm on hip.
B. Lower right hip to ground. Return to start.
Do 10 to 15 reps on each side.
6. Side Plank and Side Bend
A. Start in a right side plank with left foot in front of right and left arm reaching to sky.
B. Reach left arm above head while raising hips.
C. Lower hips and and reach left arm to sky.
D. Lift and square hips to ground, threading right arm under left to reach behind you. Return to start.
Do 8 to 10 reps on each side.
7. Forearm Plank Hip Dip
A. Start in a forearm plank.
B. Rotate core to lower left hip to tap ground.
C. Return to forearm plank.
D. Rotate core to lower right hip to tap ground. Return to start.
Do 16 reps (touching each hip to ground counts as 1 rep).
8. Knee to Elbow
A. Start in a full plank.
B. Bring right knee to right elbow.
C. Return to full plank.
D. Bring left knee to left elbow. Return to start.
Do 16 reps on each side, alternating sides.
9. Lateral Flexion
A. Start lying on the ground in a crunch position with knees bent, right arm behind head, and left arm reaching toward feet.
B. Crunch on left side to reach left hand closer to left foot.
C. Return to start.
Do 25 reps, then switch hands and repeat on right side.
10. Bicycle Crunch
A. Start in a tabletop crunch position.
B. Twist to bring left elbow to right knee while extending right leg.
C. Twist to bring right elbow to left knee while extending left leg.
Do 25 reps, alternating sides.
If you’re wondering why achieving your fitness goals seems elusive as ever, it may not have anything to do with how many reps you’re cranking out or your mileage on the treadmill. Your workout plan and habits outside of the gym are just as important. These bad habits can ruin your workout and affect your health in the long run.
1. Bad Form
Whether from a lack of proper guidance, not asking for advice, or being new to the gym, many people don’t realize the importance of good form when exercising. Exercising in the wrong way can be dangerous to your joints and muscles, and even minimize the effect of your workout. Make sure you learn the right form from a certified instructor or expert from the get-go. Bad habits can be difficult to get rid of later in the game.
2. Exercising on an Empty Stomach
Experts recommend fueling your body before you start exercising. Jay Cardiello, a fitness expert and ISSA and NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist, says fasted cardio—AKA doing cardio on an empty stomach in the morning—can be both good and bad for your body, but it’s not sustainable. Instead, he suggests getting in your glucose before starting your workout. That’s because when your blood sugar is too low, your body extracts glycogen from the muscle tissues once it runs out of available glycogen. What does that mean, exactly? You start losing muscle instead of building it. Yikes. Not to mention low blood sugar can also cause dizziness and weakness during training, so eat a banana, berries, or low-fat yogurt 45 minutes before working out to skip those negative side effects.
3. Too Much Cardio
Cardio can burn a lot of calories, but overdoing it can minimize strength, cause muscle atrophy, and even lead to fat-loss plateaus. And, if you’re on a strict diet plan and combine it with an overdose of cardio, it can take a toll on your muscles. Karina Baymiller, a powerlifter, suggests “a few 15-minute HIIT or conditioning sessions a week to keep your fat-loss rolling and strength maintained.” Instead of overcompensating with cardio, focus on strength training and consider fine-tuning your nutrition habits—after all, a healthy diet is the foundation of any effective, long-term fat-loss plan.
4. Starving or Eating the Wrong Food
Too many people think that skipping meals can help them lose weight, but that’s far from true. You need to eat after working out, and you need to eat right. Otherwise, “your body breaks down muscles into amino acids to convert into glucose,” says John Ivy, Ph.D., chair emeritus of kinesiology at the University of Texas, and your body will essentially start sabotaging itself. Avoid eating refined or processed foods, and aim to have a good mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. (Here’s 6 Smart Snacks to Eat After a Workout.)
5. Not Enough Zzz’s
Adequate sleep allows your muscles to recover. Without it, you can’t exercise at full intensity and muscles feel sore from yesterday’s gym sesh because they couldn’t repair themselves. Not to mention sleep helps mitigate stress, which in turn reduces cortisol levels that are responsible for balancing testosterone and HGH production to metabolize fat. All that’s to say that you should aim to get 6-8 hours of sleep, though that number is customizable for everyone.
6. Protein-Deficient Diet
Protein is essential to help your body recover from training and helps repair sore muscles. A protein-rich diet helps to increase the fat metabolism in your body, since you burn more calories while digesting and protein takes longer to break down. Science backs it up: studies indicate that the body burns up to 30 percent of the calories consumed from protein during the digestion process, so load up in every meal—even breakfast.