It's still a mystery why those extra pounds around your waist are called love handles. I mean, who actually loves them? Despite their loving name, we want to get rid of them. But that extra fat on the sides of your torso is not easy to lose. However, according to fitness experts like trainer Kira Stokes, it can be done, especially with exercises that see you reaching to the side to work your obliques. And when you incorporate ones that also hit your upper and lower abs, you will be able to more effectively sculpt and slim the entire middle section. Below are some of the best ways to target those love handles and say goodbye to them for good.
1. Knee drops
Working your core muscles is a great way to lose weight fast. Lie flat on the ground with your abs pulled tight to your spine and your back on the floor. Then lift your legs off the floor and go into a tabletop position. Squeeze a small exercise ball between your legs. This will engage your inner thigh muscles and lower abs the entire time. Slowly drop your knees to the right, keeping your abs pulled in tight and your lower back flat. Try doing 3 sets of 8-10 reps each. Those love handles will melt away.
2. Oblique Press and Reach
Kneel on your left knee with your right foot in front of you and your foot flat on the floor. Keep your abdominal muscles tight and your back straight. Hold a weight in your right hand, extend your arm out to the right and bend it at a 90 degree angle with your fist in the air. Reach up and extend your arm straight into the air while bending your body down to the left side and touching your left fingertips to the ground. Use your oblique muscle and pull your torso back to starting position. Do three sets of 12 to 15 on each side.
3. Side Plank Crunch
Start on your right elbow with your right foot slightly in front of your left. Keep your core tightened throughout. Pull the right knee in towards your chest and crunch your left elbow toward it. Bring your body back out to the side plank position. Do 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps.
4. Plank Up-Downs
Get your body into plank position with your arms out straight directly beneath your shoulders, squeezing your butt and pulling your abs tight into your spine. Then, starting with one arm, lower down onto your forearm, then follow with the next arm. Move back up, one arm at a time, to the fully extended plank. Do 8 on each side.
5. Around the World Obliques
Stand with your legs wide and your toes turned out and tailbone tucked in. Use a light weight in your hands and extend your arms up straight above your head as far as you can. Then bend from the hips and reach your body as far as you can to the right, hips and shoulders square forward. When you can't reach any more, rotate toward the floor. Twist your body back to face the front, exhale and pull back up to the centre. Do 8 to 10 slow and controlled reps in each direction.
6. Pass the Ball
Lie flat on the ground with your abs pulled in tight and your back flat on the floor. Pick your chest up, pulling the right knee into your chest and holding a ball in your left hand. Pass the ball underneath your right knee into your right hand and crunch up. Rotate your legs after each pass and crunch every time. Do for 30 to 45 seconds.
7. Knee Drop
Lie flat on the ground, lift your legs off the floor and into a tabletop position. Squeeze a ball between your legs, drop your knees over to the right, keeping your abs pulled in tight and your lower back flat. Exhale and pull to the centre, then inhale as you drop them down the other way. Do 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps for each side.
8. Crouching Tiger Push-Up
Start in a push-up position and do a pushup. Bend your knees off the floor and press back into your hips so your knees are directly beneath your ribs. Your arms should be straight, pressing through the shoulders. Lift your hips up into a downward dog position. Then round out your back and slowly roll your spine forward in a wave motion, starting with the lower spine and ending with your upper spine rolling the rest of the body flat until you are back in the starting plank position. Do 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps.
9. Eat less fattening foods
This shouldn’t come as a shock, but eating foods that are low in fat is one proven way to drop those extra pounds. Cut down your consumption of fast food by replacing chips, burgers and cupcakes with healthier options loaded with nutrients. While it may take a while to get used to your new health-conscious diet, before you know it you’ll be used to eating nothing but fruits, greens and nuts. Making these changes will save yourself from packing on some unnecessary extra pounds.
10. Don’t skip breakfast
While skipping breakfast might make you feel like you’re helping cut down on calories, in reality the opposite is likely to occur. By starving yourself first-thing in the day, you’re more likely to indulge in some sugary snacks from the vending machine or fattening fast food. Additionally, skipping breakfast forces your body to create more stress hormones, which causes weight loss. Try to avoid this by making a habit out of eating granola and fruit when you wake up in the morning.
11. Get lots of sleep
We all know that we should ideally get 8 hours of sleep per night. However, in reality, most of us can’t seem to reach this target. It is incredibly difficult to build muscle and burn fat without having eight hours of good sleep per night (seven minimum). Not only does sleep cause you to lack the physical energy needed to stay in shape, but it also results in your body failing to respond to insulin. This causes your body to store lots of fat—especially around your love handles.
12. Drink less alcohol
This might be a difficult one for some of us, but regular consumption of alcohol leads to even more empty calories than from sugary foods. Additionally, it prevents the fat burning process as alcohol is the first fuel to burn when it is combined with carbohydrates, fats and proteins. This means instead of using its energy to burn fat, your body is burning off the alcohol instead. This causes fat to remain in your stomach and straight to those love handles. When combined with regular exercise and a healthy diet, cutting back on your alcohol consumption is an effective way to lose the love handles. Think about that the next time you order a beer with dinner.