Love handles can have many names ranging from muffin top to spare tire. Basically, it’s the belly fat that protrudes over the top of your pants.
Despite the name “love handles”, there isn’t much to love about them. While the handles aren’t dangerous themselves, they indicate possible risk factors for chronic illnesses. These range from high blood pressure, heart disease, and sleep apnea.
Losing them won’t just make you feel and look better but can decrease your risk of some diseases.
Love handles can be challenging to lose. They’re called “stubborn fat” for a reason.
Many people try to get rid of love handles with endless side crunches. But doing a million side crunches is not the most effective way to lose those love handles.
To get rid of stubborn fat for good, you’re going to need to make dietary, exercise, and lifestyle changes.
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How Do You Lose Oblique Fat?
A healthy diet and lifestyle changes are the only way to lose that pesky side belly fat.
Eat a balanced diet composed of healthy fats, lean protein, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Limiting your carbs can also go a long way.
While spot training is a myth, a mixture of strength training, resistance training, and cardio amps up your body’s ability to lose the fat all over. However, you can strengthen the muscles in the targeted area to aid in fat loss. Enter the oblique workout!
Adding a waist trainer to your core training can also help in losing body fat by heating up your midsection quicker.
Note that there may be a bulge from diastasis recti, a separating of the large abdominal muscles. Diastasis recti are common immediately after birth or pregnancy of multiples. It can be treated with physical therapy.
The good thing is that simple lifestyle changes such as getting 8 hours of sleep a night, drinking enough water, and limiting stress can help in weight loss. Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning to kick off the day!
Since not all abs exercises target the right area or burn fat like crazy, we hand-picked those that do in this 45-minute love handle workout.
To lose your love handles, add the following 10 exercises to your abdominal belly fat workout for a strong core. They range from beginner to more advanced exercise. Choose the variation that fits within your level of fitness.
What Is the Best Exercise for Your Obliques?
The best exercises to lose your oblique fat and tone up the side abdominals are the ones that hit not just the rectus abdominis (front abdomen) but also the one that engages your internal obliques, external obliques, and core muscles as a whole.
Also, abdominal exercises that involve twisting movements or are performed sideways bring more engagement to your oblique muscles.
10 Best Oblique Exercises
Here are the 10 best oblique exercises to add to your love handle workout!
While endurance is important, take a rest before moving to the next exercise in this ab workout if needed.
1. Russian Twists
The Russian twist exercise will set your love handles on fire! They melt off the side stomach fat by twisting from side to side. This movement gets into those hard-to-reach oblique muscles.
If you are ready for an advanced version, hold a weight plate, kettlebell, dumbbell, or medicine ball in front of your chest.
How to Perform Russian Twists
Sit on your mat with your knees bent. Start to lean back until you feel your abdominals engage, it’s a 45-degree angle. Lift up your feet off the floor. Hold your arms out in front of your chest or hold additional weight.
Twist your torso and ribs to the left, pause, squeezing your ab muscles. Make sure your elbow clears your quads. Return to center and repeat on the right side. Return to center. That’s one rep.
Continue for 12-15 reps on each side.
The superman is one of the best ab exercises to target the lower back muscles in addition to all your main muscle groups (such as your rectus abdominus) in the torso. You lift your upper body with your entire core while maintaining proper form balancing on the pelvis/stomach area. The movement may be subtle but don’t underestimate its effectiveness to build core stability.
How to Perform Superman
To perform the superman, lie face down on your stomach with arms and legs extended.
On an exhale, simultaneously lift both arms and legs off the floor about 6 to 8 inches off the mat. Squeeze your glutes, hold for 5 seconds, then return to the starting position. Repeat for 10-12 reps.
3. Bicycle Crunch
The bicycle crunch adds a fun rotation to the standard floor crunch. It activates your internal and external obliques and tones the waistline. Your hips also get energized by the pedaling of the legs.
How to perform Bicycle Crunch
To perform a bicycle crunch, start in the standard crunch position, bending at your hips. Your knees are at a 90-degree angle, shins parallel to the ground. Place your fingertips behind each ear. Lift your shoulders off the floor and hold.
Twist your upper body to the right as you pull your right knee in as fast as you can until it touches your left elbow. Simultaneously straighten your left leg.
Return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side by pulling your left knee to your right elbow. Continue for 12-15 repetitions per side.
4. Side Plank
While planks are rarely a favorite exercise, it is one of the simplest and yet most effective core exercises to work not only the love handles but the entire body. A plank is considered an isometric exercise. This means you hold the plank position for a set period of time. While it’s not dynamic in nature, your body needs to recruit multiple muscles to keep the form. It’s a great exercise to build strong obliques and core.
Adding a side plank to your love handle workout routine helps target your oblique muscles and shrink your waist. On top of that, this bodyweight exercise can also improve your core strength and tone your ab muscles.
How to Perform Side Plank
To perform the side plank, lie on your right side with your legs straight. Have your right elbow directly under your shoulder. Spread the fingers on your right hand creating a stable base. Your right forearm is parallel with the front of the mat. Press through your forearm raising your hips until your body forms a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders. Raise your left hand creating a straight line from fingertip to right arm.
Engage your abs and hold this side plank position for 30 seconds. Don’t let your right hip drop towards the ground. Add time with the more you practice. Return to the starting position and repeat on the left forearm for the same length.
5. Scissor Crunch
This exercise hits the lower abs, transverse abdominals, glutes, and obliques. It’s great for a slimmer waist!
How to Perform Scissor Crunch
To perform the scissor crunch, lie down face up with your arms by your sides, palms pressing into the floor. You can place your hands underneath your hips for lower back support. Lift both your legs off the floor towards the ceiling.
Contract your abs as you slowly lower your right leg until it’s a few inches above the floor. Then scissor your legs, lifting your right leg up while lowering your left leg.
Continue alternating between your legs for 30 – 45 reps per side.
Pushups deceptively target your abdominal muscles. While everyone knows it’s a great exercise for building strength in your upper body, in reality, it’s a variation of plank pose. You need your core strength for stability to find movement in this exercise.
How to Perform Pushups
Start in the plank position. Your arms are straight, slightly wider than your shoulders, bending at the wrists. Your feet are slightly wider than your hips. Tuck your toes. There is a straight line from the tip of your head to your heels.
Engage your core as you lower down, elbows tracking out to 4:30 and 7:30. Press through your hands returning to the starting position. Repeat for 30 reps.
Want to amp it up? Try the one-armed variation! Starting in the push-up position, Bring your right arm behind your back. Make sure that the left hand is directly under the left shoulder. Maintain the pushup position as your lower down. Once you complete your reps, switch sides bringing your left arm behind your back.
Squats are a great addition to a love handle workout. While they are typically associated with lower body workouts, you need your abdominals, obliques, and spinal erectors to keep proper form.
Add a barbell to add more of a challenge!
How to Perform squats
Start in a standing position with a straight posture your feet slightly wider than your hips. Point your toes slightly outward, weight evenly spread between your right heel and left heel. Keep your arms out, parallel with the ground, and your weight back in your heels. If using a barbell, place over the shoulders behind the neck.
Engage your core as you lower your hips below the knees. Be sure to keep your knees in line with your hips.
Exhale, engage your thighs and hamstrings as you rise to the starting position. Repeat for 30 reps.
8. Cross-Body Mountain Climbers
Cross-body mountain climbers are the ultimate mix of cardio and an oblique workout. The movement of the knees across the body fires up the obliques and hip flexors while upping your heart rate and your metabolism.
How to Perform Cross-Body Mountain Climbers
Start in a plank position with your wrists under your shoulders. Bring your right knee to your left elbow twisting underneath. Return to plank. Bring your left knee to your right elbow. Again, return to plank. This is 1 round. Complete for 30 reps.
9. Standing Side Crunch
Standing side crunch integrates a side bend in this underrated oblique exercise. It strengthens the entire side ab wall while challenging your balance and stability.
How to Perform Standing Side Crunch
Start with your feet shoulder-width distance apart. Place your right fingertips behind your right ear. Shift your weight into your left foot. Connect your right knee to your right elbow, crunching to the side. Keep your left hand on your left hip. Release bringing your arm back up and straighten your leg back to the ground returning to an upright position.
Repeat 30 times, then switch to the left side for 30 reps. Make it more intense by holding a kettlebell in the opposite hand.
10. Forward Lunge and Twist
This exercise also incorporates a twisting of the spine, lats, and transverse abdominis to build muscle in your core and lower body.
How to Perform Forward Lunge and Twist
Start standing at the back of the mat, feet hip-width distance apart. Hold a medicine ball, kettlebell, or dumbbell weight chest level. Step forward with the right foot and lower into a lunge. Both knees will be at 90-degree angles. Extend your arms at shoulder height. Twist to the left over your left leg bringing the weight of choice to hip level. Return to center. Step back to standing position.
Repeat for 20 reps on the right side. Switch to the left side for another 20 reps.
Love handles can be a tricky area to lose inches. It takes hard work and persistence. But the good news is that you don’t need to be a personal trainer to know how to get a solid core workout!
To get rid of love handles for good, you need to make changes both in the kitchen and your workout for strong obliques. An important thing to be mindful of is diastasis recti when working on a stronger core.
In your workout, it’s about hitting the obliques and adjacent muscles to work those handles. By incorporating anaerobic abs exercises for that area, you can achieve fat burn and shape up.
To lose your stubborn love handles, add these 10 exercises to your abs workouts.