That ring of fat that collects around the top of your waist is often referred to as your love handles. It can make even the coolest T-shirt look frumpy and make you feel fat. Unlike belly fat, or visceral fat, which infiltrates your internal organs and is linked to everything from diabetes to heart disease, those love handles are made of subcutaneous fat, a type of fat that is located just below the skin, which sort of just sits there. In fact, some studies even suggest that this type of fat may even help protect us from certain health issues and is essential for life, but that doesn’t mean we should love the way they look or hang on to it for that sake. With the less-clothed season ahead of us, here are 4 ab exercises to try to get rid of those love handles for good. Don’t forget to incorporate a well-balanced diet with some of these exercises to speed the fat-loss process along.
Incorporate these workouts into your current routine, performing them three to four days a week with at least a day’s rest in between.
The dumbbell side bend
Muscle and Fitness points out that building a solid midsection is about three big things: cardio, diet, and endless amounts of crunches. This targeted oblique workout, courtesy of Muscle and Fitness, is one of the most misused but also one of the most effective. Here’s how to do it:
- Grab only one dumbbell (do not hold one in each hand or in your resting hand because it defeats the purpose counteracting your work) for the side you’re going to work first. However, you will need two of them: A heavier one and lighter one (more on that in a second).
- Think about a piece of glass slicing your body in half (as gruesome as it sounds) into a front and back half, which is called the frontal plane. The dumbbell side bend should be performed only in this plane, with no backward or forward lean at any point during the exercise.
- You will be varying your reps according to the weight of the dumbbell you’re using. Start with your heavier dumbbell (make sure it’s heavy enough that it will force you to strain) for a moderate number of reps (sets of 6-10), switching to your lighter dumbbell for higher reps (up to 40). Do as many sets as you can, alternating between sides.
As you get better at the workout, try and make things more difficult by varying this exercise and adjust the position of your resting arm. To start, try holding your resting arm at your side, then make things even harder by placing it across your chest, then behind your head, and lastly bent over your head.
Ah, the old running planks. This exercise move, courtesy of Men’s Fitness, is also a very popular move, albeit, a very difficult one that a lot of us try and avoid because it really activates our mid section. Here’s how to do it:
- Get into plank position facedown on the floor or mat with your feet together.
- Next, lift your hips off the ground and support your body weight on your feet and forearms and begin alternating bringing your knees up to your chest as if you were running, while keeping your spine stabilized and core tight. Do this for 30 seconds, which is one rep. Do 4 sets. However, if you so choose, do as many as you can handle.
Medicine Ball Torso Rotation
This exercise from Men’s Health is a very focused oblique workout. Here’s how to do it:
- Grab a medicine ball and sit on a mat. Sitting with your knees bent and your feet on the floor, quickly twist to your left and place the ball down behind your back.
- Twist to the right and pick up the ball. That’s one rep.
- Next, bring the ball back to your left side and set it down again.
- Do 10 reps on each side, making sure you do the same number on each side always starting with the twist to your left side. Make it harder by twisting with your feet slightly off the ground.
Standing Oblique Crunch
The last love handle exercise we recommend you try is the Standing Oblique Crunch from the Huffington Post. Because this one too is a standing exercise, it forces your muscles to activate to stabilize the body when balancing. Here’s how to do it:
- Standing with your feet a little wider than shoulder width apart, starting with your right side, place your left hand on your hip, and your right arm straight up in the air.
- Next, lift your right leg up and move your right arm down as if you were crunching your side, touching your elbow to your knee. Switch to your left side and do the same. Do 10-20 reps on the right side and switch. Do 3 sets on each side.
- Depending upon how difficult you’d like to make the exercise, keep your active leg lifted throughout. If you wish to keep it easier, tap and lift your foot instead.