Love handles. We all have them, and despite the fun little name we give them, we all hate them. I’m a big advocate for body positivity, and while I firmly believe that every shape is beautiful, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to blast those stubborn suckers off my sides. Believe it or not, it is possible to both love your body and want to lose fat. And if you’re like me and about a million other women, the fat around your middle is a good place to start.
The trouble with our love handles is that not every ab exercise will do the trick. A lot of women think crunches are the key to burning that fat, but that’s not exactly true. The fat in question actually lies on top of the obliques. These are the muscles on either side of our abdomen, and they stretch from your lower ribs to your pelvis. To get rid of that fat, you have to target that area specifically and keep at it.
Here are a couple exercises you can do right from home to break down your love handles.
1. Russian Twist
Don’t ask me why these are called Russian twists, I have no idea. The twisting part is pretty obvious, but you’ll have to use your imagination for the rest. Vodka is what comes to mind first, but that might just be me.
To do a Russian twist, sit on a mat and lean back so you’re balanced at about a 45-degree angle. Bend your knees slightly and lift your legs from the floor. Next, grab a weight if you’re ambitious. If you’re a beginner, you’ll be fine simply holding your hands in front of you.
Once you’re balanced on your booty, twist your torso until you can touch your weight to the ground. Try not to fall over, and engage your obliques in the process. Repeat that motion back and forth. Voila! A Russian Twist.
Before you grab your helmet, this oblique exercise does not require an actual bicycle. All you do is mimic the motion of pedaling a bike all while giving your obliques a good workout.
To start, lie on your back with your hands behind your head. Remember not to pull on your head or neck during any kind of ab exercise. Your hands should just barely be touching your hair and not pulling your head forward. For this love handle exercise, squeeze your abs as you peel your shoulders off the ground. Next, move your right elbow toward your left knee. Bend your knee until your elbow and knee meet somewhere in the middle of your body. Hold that for just a second before releasing and doing the same thing on the other side. Once you get going, the motion should feel like you’re pedaling a bike. Switch sides at a continuous rate, but don’t go too fast. You want your bike moving at a steady pace, but not a sprint.
3. Side Planks Reach Through
To be completely honest, these side plank reach throughs are not my favorite. It took me a few tries to get the motion down, and I still feel a bit shaky after doing a few in a row. But with that said, they are great at blasting away love handles. They precisely target the oblique muscles, and you don’t need to do that many to feel the burn. Yes, that’s a good thing!
The exercise starts simple enough as a side plank. Lie on your side and lift yourself up with your right hand on the ground and your feet stacked. If you’re having trouble supporting yourself, lower yourself down to your elbow. You want your body to look like a straight line–no drooping at the hips. When you’re steady, hold your left hand up toward the ceiling.
Now here comes the part that’s going to take some balance (aka your oblique muscles). Lower your left hand and bring it around your front and through the gap that’s between your hip and the ground. You’ll have to twist a little, but try not to twist too much. You’ll only mess up your feet and probably fall over. I’ve fallen countless times doing this exercise, so no shame if you do too.
Now that I have you in the plank position, let’s talk about T-rotations. Aptly named for the body position you’ll end up making, this exercise focuses on your abs with a special spotlight on the obliques.
Start in a push-up position with your arms fully extended (but don’t lock your elbows). Hold that plank for about three seconds and then rotate into a side plank. Don’t forget to engage your abs! At this point, one hand should be on the ground, your feet should be stacked, and your body should be facing sideways. Hold your free arm out so that your body makes a T. Hold this side plank for three seconds, and then rotate until you’re back in your push-up position. Repeat this rotation a few times to bust up those love handles.
5. Bird Dog
Try not to think too hard about the name of this exercise. It kind of makes you look like a dog trying to fly, but the important thing is that it’s great for your obliques. And even better, it’s pretty simple.
The first step is to get onto your hands and knees. Make sure your hands are directly under your shoulders and your knees are directly under your hips. Use your abs to simultaneously lift your left arm and your right leg. Hold them out fully extended for around 10 seconds. Lower your limbs slowly, and you can either repeat that motion a few times on the same side, or switch sides.
Once you have these five moves down, focus on consistency. You’ll only make progress if you commit to blasting those love handles on a regular basis. And don’t be discouraged if you don’t see amazing results right away. Fat loss is always a marathon, not a sprint.