SparkPeople Blogs  •  fitness  •  abs

Aim to 'Lose Your Love Handles'

By , Jessica Smith, Certified Personal Trainer
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.
Scroll down below this graphic to see detailed instructions for each exercise.

Workout Instructions:
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.

Targeted 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.
Cardio Toner #3: Jiggle Jabber (Cross & Cover)
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
(Windshield Wipers)

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.

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Great tips here, the best way to lose love handles is by focusing mainly on your diet...too many people think losing weight is about exerting when that couldn't be farther from the truth! Report
Love it and will try! Report
Love this! I am going to add at least one move to my next workout! Report
The 1st exercise looked so easy that i stood up and tried it gently since i have spinal problems. My back made lots of sounds but it felt great. I plan to eventually carefully try the rest of the exercises. Definitely an article to save and refer back to often. Report
Here is what I did. I wanted to save them too so I copy and paste onto an email and sent it to myself. That way I can print also. I can cut also because I got all the ads and comments too. Give it a try. Report
I am able to save but cannot print it. Report
Trust me i was so interested by this work out .I saved all the images and am working on this Daily and have seen the difference .my Body is Tone for sure ..Kudos to Spark People magazine ur Great ..... Report
I wish I could track and save this workout Report
Love these ab exercises, but hate the term "muffin top". There is no such thing as a muffin top and it is just something that someone made up and another thing for us to hate about our bodies. Our tummies hang over our pants when they are ill-fitting and that's it! Focus on real parts of the body when making reference to exercises and use words like "core" and "abs" and "obliques" and stay away from useless and negative jargon! Spark People should also know that you cannot "whittle" away anything by doing these exercises! Reduction happens though cardio exercise and portion control as you should know! Stop feeding people myths and give them the truth about exercise! Thank you NAUSIKAA for your wisdom. The author should know better!
If you can't see the Save button, it's because you aren't logged in to the site. You can open the daily e-mails, but they don't automatically sign you in to the Spark People website. Hope that helps.

I love and need these exercises. Can't wait to try them out! Report
I don't see the save button either! I need to save this. Report
Can't find any save button?? Is it me or is it not saveable?? Report
These are GREAT exercises for people who DO NOT have back/spine issues :( Report
wow, looks supercool.. gonna try it Report
I love the versatile exercises listed in the article. But I think the title of the article is misleading. I agree that any exercise is good as long as it is performed safely. However, I thought that there is no such thing as "spot reduction" or exercises which target certain areas of the body. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you can only tone the muscles beneath the fat, but the exercise won't shrink the fat cells in one particular area. Report
There is a save button along the left side. It saves it to your "Spark Favorites".
I really like the look of this workout. I can't do it right now since I'm 3rd trimester into my pregnancy, but I love short, intense workouts for those times when life gets busy!

I wish there were a way to "save" articles, like you can "save" your favorite discussion threads. If anyone knows a way, can you please please please message me? Report
Would love a print out of this Report
"...a printer-friendly version of this graphic..."


a video!

But great moves, I'm sure! Report
A printer-friendly version of this graphic would be VERY helpful.... Report
These look very nice, thank you so much, I will add them to my routine! :) Report
Great. Need this. Report
I know I can save this to my bookmarks, but is there a way to save it right onto my iPad? Like a PDF file? My husband and I travel in the summer and some of the places we go I'm without Internet access (I know, it's truly barbaric!). It would be nice if I could save this to my library. I know I've saved other things from Sparkpeople in that format. Report
Not much to add...but wanted to say these exercises look fairly easy to understand and do! I think all of us need to stay positive and know we're blessed to have a health site that can reach all of matter where in the journey of health and fitness we are. I love Spark People! Report
I use most of these moves along with cardio. Report
I love these workouts that you are posting from this personal trainer!!! Keep 'em coming! They are well explained and the pictures give a decent enough visual of how to perform them properly and I really like that I can print them out and do them anywhere, without equipment!

LOVE IT!!!! PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE give us more! :-) Report
"A calorie deficit" is only part of the equation; building muscle is the other part. I have done much more for my body through a combination of cardio and strength exercises than by limiting my calorie intake. It's a combination of factors that create the body you want. Report
"A calorie deficit" is only part of the equation; building muscle is the other part. I have done much more for my body through a combination of cardio and strength exercises than by limiting my calorie intake. It's a combination of factors that create the body you want. Report
Well said AMANDADAY63.

Nausika an other nay-sayers......youre wrong!!!!!!!
I have been doing almost exactly these same activities for the past several weeks to tone and tighten my stomach muscles as I have just kinda softened around my midline with age (turning 50 next month, muscles were still there, weight was still good, just needed definition/toning!!)
I am happy to say that by doing these exercises faithfully (daily) I have seen a definite improvement...I am not only stronger in my core I am also slimmer with reduced padding, This combination of exercises targets the waistline but, as the author says, also helps tone other body areas...the author also states, clearly (not "lip service" as Nausika states!) that diet and lifestyle changes have to be why the poisoned spewing Nausika, when it DOES work?...maybe not for you, maybe not for everyone, but it DOES work for some of us....and maybe many of us. I think your comments were harsh and really counterproductive, because ALL Sparks members are entering the journey at different points in life and need encouragement not negativity at its worst....just as with any exercise program, what works for you, or for me, or for a friend, doesn't work for everyone, but everyone should be encouraged to try a safe and simple exercise regimen that can conceivably bring positive results....I know you were probably trying to help but your approach really did NOT help and just sounded mean spirited...I think Sparks did a great job of presenting, through this author, yet another workout opportunity, and we should all let the users of Sparkpeople decide what works for them, especially when its a simple and easily accomplished activity that could jumpstart an affinity for exercise.
I apologize if my comments have come across in a negative manner, I really just wanted to let people on here know that no matter what level you have reached in your journey to good health, any cardio exercise an be beneficial and if it has the possibility of whittling away an inch or two then its is simply a wonderful added bonus...right?
Thankyou and blessings Report
Pinned this workout & will try it tomorrow!! Report
Will be trying these ASAP. Looked into her youtube videos as well.. Report
There are amazing exercises and they really work! I'm so sore after doing some of these and I thought all of my muscles in these areas were in pretty good shape... guess I don't use them as often as I thought! Report
Great tips. Thanks for sharing them., Report
So glad this showed up again on my Start Page today! I had used it before, and really liked it! I printed it off this time - won't lose it again!!! Report
Will attempt to do some of these tonight. Report
Thanks! I tried them all and I plan on using them with my regular core work. :) Report
Would be nice if SP offered laminated cards from their store. It would make it easier to remember all the different exercises. Report
Done these kinds of exercises a lot, over the's the doing them for years for your whole lifespan that just is not possible, looks good, though......... Report
Definitely going to be starting this tomorrow. Looks awesome! Report
Will try it. Report
Thanks for the excellent visuals and explanation for much dreaded 'muffin top' waistlines! Report
I will have to try these. I'm currently following her videos on YouTube and am working my way through her 5-week shape up challenge. She seems very down-to-earth and is encouraging without being over-the-top bubbly. I like her videos just as much as I like Coach Nicole's. SparkPeople gives us so many awesome people to workout with! Report
Unfortunately, my "muffin top" is almost exclusively loose skin from a 115 lb weight loss. My abs are in great shape, though! Report
These are a great addition to any program! Anything to change up the pace! Report
One of the things that really frustrates me is when someone sees something such as this article and poo-poos it as being useless or incorrect or not enought or not chanllenging blah, blah, blah. Remember....there are ALL fitness levels here. Remember....everyone HAS to start someplace. Remember....not everyone is as far along as you may be. Remember....intensity/difficulty INCREASES as fitness INCREASES, not the other way around. To someone who is inactive, just starting out and overweight, there is plenty of intensity in these exercises...and the chance to gain some confidence instead of giving up.

The article states you cannot spot reduce. The article shows exercises that target THE MUSCELS in the area one wants to IMPROVE. Working the muscels improves tone, tightens, sleaks out the area while the improved eating/reduced quantity (which the article states is necessary) its doing its job. Why is it necessary to poo-poo that? Why is it necessary to discourage people before they start?

SparkPeople is for all people...not just those who have already made it...and all people need something that they can use to start where they are - if SparkPeople only provided info/exercises etc for those who are more advanced than those starting out would have nothing to get them going.

Sorry for the vent, but this type of mentality just promotes the idea that our efforts are not good enough unless they are full speed ahead .... and is contrary to what SparkPeople is about which is every bit helps and everything builds on what came before it. The most important thing is to START!!!! Report
I'm not so sure that they (SP) want us to think that we can "spot-reduce". They do mention at the top of the article that we have to reduce caloric consumption and perform fat-burning cardio and strength training to really lose the fat - from all over. I think the point here is just providing some toning exercises for this particular area.

The exercise look like they can be done easily, at home, with some great music and no equipment. I'll certainly give them a whirl. It can't hurt! (Well, ok, actually ANY exercise can hurt but you know what I mean!)

Kudos to NUSIKAA and DAGONCHILDE "The truth is that they simply are NOT. NONE of these exercises will reduce abdominal fat. All they will do is provide a very modest increase in strength" You lose weight all over and your main tool to do that is calorie deficit. Report
I like the article, but I don't like that it implies you can spot reduce. I definitely agree with NAUSIKAA on this one. Report
I was excited to see some of the exercises that I am already doing through some of my workout dvd's in this article!!! Thanks for the great workout!! Report