Aim to 'Lose Your Love Handles'


By: , – Jessica Smith, Certified Personal Trainer
  :  122 comments   :  1,864,513 Views

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.
Have you struggled to lose weight in your waist? What diet/exercise strategies have worked best for you?

About the Author
As someone who struggled to lose weight for years, Jessica found that the key to her own 40-pound weight loss was making small, healthy lifestyle changes that led to big, lasting results. Now, as a certified wellcoach, fitness instructor and personal trainer, she has spent the last 15 years helping students and clients reach their goals in New York City, Los Angeles and Miami, and now reaches millions online through her YouTube Channel and home exercise DVD series. Please visit to learn more about her fun, results driven programs for all levels of exercisers.
All Photos by Vanessa Rogers Photography.

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  • 72
    Pinned this workout & will try it tomorrow!! - 6/13/2013   9:43:46 AM
  • 71
    Will be trying these ASAP. Looked into her youtube videos as well.. - 6/13/2013   9:09:04 AM
    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! - 6/13/2013   8:09:37 AM
    Great tips. Thanks for sharing them., - 6/13/2013   7:31:52 AM
  • KMF2012
    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!!! - 6/13/2013   6:52:56 AM
  • 67
    Will attempt to do some of these tonight. - 6/13/2013   6:44:02 AM
  • 66
    Thanks! I tried them all and I plan on using them with my regular core work. :) - 6/13/2013   12:02:28 AM
  • 65
    Would be nice if SP offered laminated cards from their store. It would make it easier to remember all the different exercises. - 6/12/2013   11:06:41 PM
  • 64
    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......... - 6/12/2013   11:03:53 PM
  • 63
    Definitely going to be starting this tomorrow. Looks awesome! - 6/12/2013   9:56:16 PM
    Will try it. - 6/12/2013   9:26:33 PM
  • 61
    Thanks for the excellent visuals and explanation for much dreaded 'muffin top' waistlines! - 6/12/2013   8:25:50 PM
  • 60
    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! - 6/12/2013   7:07:38 PM
  • 59
    Unfortunately, my "muffin top" is almost exclusively loose skin from a 115 lb weight loss. My abs are in great shape, though! - 6/12/2013   6:46:06 PM
    These are a great addition to any program! Anything to change up the pace! - 6/12/2013   5:27:47 PM
  • 57
    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!!!! - 6/12/2013   2:49:37 PM
  • 56
    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!)

    - 6/12/2013   2:39:21 PM
  • 55
    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. - 6/12/2013   2:35:56 PM
  • 54
    I like the article, but I don't like that it implies you can spot reduce. I definitely agree with NAUSIKAA on this one. - 6/12/2013   1:26:28 PM
    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!! - 6/12/2013   1:16:52 PM
  • 52
    +1 to Nausikaa - 6/12/2013   12:45:58 PM
    love this will give it a try:) - 6/12/2013   12:45:54 PM
  • 50
    Okay... I'm convinced this is for me. - 5/31/2013   3:37:15 AM
    Like these exercise. I will add these in my workout before I go to bed at night. - 5/20/2013   10:14:40 AM
  • 48
    I love this! I'll be adding this routine in the morning a few days a week. Thank you!!! - 5/13/2013   11:03:22 PM
  • 47
    Going to add this in tonight's workout.
    this seems to be just what i need to get my flat stomach back... - 4/11/2013   10:43:08 AM
  • DD-FAT
    I think it depends where you are. if you are a very active person and still have the muffin then yes you need to work harder, till you give some sweat , but if you never got off of your couch before, this may do some work. on a different note, I wish I can see some exercises that actually people with muffins can do. it's not the same when you don;t have the perfect shape to exersise, you actually end up working the wrong muscles. - 3/30/2013   2:42:37 AM
  • 45
    I wish there was a way to add this to my fitness tracker.... - 3/14/2013   2:25:59 PM
    Very disappointing to read this article. Articles like this one explain the endless messages on the SP message board begging for help to burn off fat from the abdominal region which -- as the author of the article knows and gives lip service to but then promptly ignores -- is not how it works.

    For a long time I (and other regular SP members) have been patiently guiding posters on the Fitness board to lose their excess body fat through a calorie deficit (which is mostly nutrition). Now I finally know WHY these questions never stop coming -- because SP is itself promoting the myth that doing silly exercises like the ones in this article are an effective way to reduce one's waist measurement. 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.

    This article does no one a service. It doesn't help people who want to reduce their abdominal fat; and it doesn't help people who want strong abs either, since these exercises are not even very challenging.

    It's no wonder people asking these same questions over and over when you put out articles like this. Can we PLEASE stop with the mixed messages and misinformation? A calorie deficit burns fat. Core strength exercises build core strength. - 3/11/2013   6:56:05 AM
  • WOOGIE123
    Thanks! - 3/10/2013   9:12:41 PM
  • 42
    I think I can handle these moves. They seem fairly easy. We will see... - 2/25/2013   12:17:05 PM
  • MADSEN56
    Very good. Every morning I get up and watch the info commericals for 10 mintue trainer, brazil butt, slim in 6, and seen a new one this morning booyfit? something like that. I do some of these exerices through the day at work, while on a bathroom break. It all adds up and gives me more enegry for a 10 hr shift. - 2/24/2013   11:22:43 AM
  • 40
    I do some of these exercises already and have done them in the past and they work beautifully. I'm excited to add the ones I have never done to get the results. For those who are worried about doing these exercises and being over weight, I am over weight and can do these exercises. I recommend that you try them first and see which ones work for you, don't be afraid to tailor them to fit your needs. - 2/23/2013   1:21:24 PM
  • BCARTER235
    These are great exersices! I do them every day and i love them! Thanks! - 2/15/2013   4:26:30 PM
    Starting these exercises TODAY!! Goodbye muffin tops!! - 2/13/2013   12:59:22 PM
  • 37
    These look great and too difficult. - 2/12/2013   12:10:58 PM
  • 36
    I plan on doing this after my walk tomorrow morning. What a great way to tone several parts of the body at once but not feel overwhelmed. - 2/11/2013   9:41:25 PM
  • 35
    A martial art workout gets the entire body, while focusing on the midsection, and can be done anywhere once you know the moves. To be done right it is intense, and so does a lot in a short period of time: less than a minute of it gets your heart beating hard and you breathing heavy. Since it can be done anywhere and doesn't take long you can do it several times a day if you want. - 2/7/2013   10:56:43 AM
  • 34
    I am going to save these and start doing them. They look like fun - while doing something good - 2/7/2013   12:18:03 AM
    Really good, like the idea of having a specific target excercises to work target areas more. Now I need some for arms please. Thanks - 2/6/2013   10:53:24 PM
  • 32
    @Sandy shore1 ,No my dear just start so slow you can do it, sometimes I feel like I'm not doing it right or feel silly doing ,the worst thing is not to try my dear !!!
    I'm on your side just move ,lol good luck to you dear !!!!:-))

    - 2/6/2013   3:25:13 PM
  • 31
    How do I add this specific routine to my fitness tracker without adding each exercise individually? I don't see a button to add them. Thanks! - 2/6/2013   1:33:17 PM
  • 30
    i think she did a good job in choosing these exercises. who cares if they help or not (spot -reducing). the idea is to keep moving and to lose weight .
    O another thing i have a bad back, hips. legs and can not do alot of exercises or get up and down off floors either but guess what ? that don"t stop me from trying , you can ( Modify these or any exercises if you have a mind to. - 2/5/2013   11:41:14 PM
    We all have different levels of fitness ability before beginning an exercise program or even trying a new exercise. We all also have different health issues that present challenges to exercising. If an exercise isn't for you, move on to find something that works. If getting up and down off the floor is an issue for you, try the exercise series Sit and Be Fit that's expressly designed for people with mobility issues. Stay positive and encourage each other on this journey! - 2/5/2013   9:45:22 PM
  • 28
    May be fine for young people or those physically fit, but we "oldies" are better off doing our water aerobics which really do work all of our muscles. And walking is always good!!! - 2/5/2013   8:02:16 PM
  • 27
    A great article very much spoiled by some stuff that could have been said differently.
    The title for starters - we're told repeatedly that we can •not• target any specific area.
    Use of derogatory terms - "muffin top" to me is really quite insulting - and I don't even know if I'm one, cos I don't know exactly what it means!

    I appreciate that working certain muscle areas will tighten those muscles and therefore tone up those areas, eventually. But It will only work with consistent exercise. And losing some weight will help too.

    And I have to repeat a previous comment for those of us who are challenged before we start - It takes me a huge effort to get down onto the floor to do any exercises. In fact, I reckon it may be just a tad easier for me to get up again! And I can assure you, that is not easy.
    So while it is great to see and read a new exercise combo - it would be even more exciting if there were options included. - 2/5/2013   7:02:07 PM
    these were some good quick ones to do since i couldnt make it to the gym today, thanks :) - 2/5/2013   6:11:17 PM
    Love this article. Good question How do you track these exercise's? Thank's also for the tip on printing them off. Faith - 2/5/2013   3:03:34 PM
    I am really overweight and am afraid: "Am I too fat for these exercises"? - 2/5/2013   2:47:31 PM
  • 23
    How do I add this to my Fitness Tracker? When I search this, nothing comes up.
    - 2/5/2013   2:19:37 PM

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