SparkPeople Blogs  •  fitness  •  abs

Aim to 'Lose Your Love Handles'

By , Jessica Smith, Certified Personal Trainer
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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KATHYJO56 9/13/2018
Burn Baby Burn Report
DWROBERGE 9/7/2018
Great moves Report
KHALIA2 7/14/2018
Great moves! Thanks! Report
KATHYJO56 7/5/2018
good article Report
SHELLLEY2 4/29/2018
Took a couple of these to add to my routine!!thank you Report
SUNSET09 4/29/2018
Thank for sharing, SparkFriend. We. can do it. Report
BABY_GIRL69 4/21/2018
Just crazy bout Jessica Smith!!! Report
CHARLIEBELL45 3/27/2018
I love these workouts from actual personal trainers. They are so well explained and the visual demonstrations to do them properly is wonderful. I do not go to a gym and only have a dumbbells and ball, and medicine ball, so this is a workout where I do not need any equipment. I love it!! Thank you Report
CHARLIEBELL45 3/27/2018
I love these workouts from actual personal trainers. They are so well explained and the visual demonstrations to do them properly is wonderful. I do not go to a gym and only have a dumbbells and ball, and medicine ball, so this is a workout where I do not need any equipment. I love it!! Thank you Report
AMYRCMK 3/5/2018
Thank you Report
KHALIA2 2/12/2018
Thank you, Jessica! Great article! Report
AJB121299 1/2/2018
nice Report
LIS193 11/22/2017
Great moves! Report
Will add some into my workout. Report
Will add this to my routine! Report
Strength training is so important so is abdominal exercises. These looks like some I really want to try, thanks for sharing this.. Report
I used to think that I could not 'spot reduce' until I started physical therapy. I could not be lieve how the exercises trimmed my muffin top or at least made it look better though the goal was to strengthen not trim. I am sold. Pinned these exercises! Report
Allow your weight-loss journey be a marathon, not a sprint. Report
for those looking for the save button it is at the end where you see "More" click and you will see the save button. Report
I'm not going to even listen to the negative people, because I know from experience abdominal exercises have done wonders for me. Of course eating a healthy diet has helped too! Also, I have Jessica's Abs Diet workout video and it's one of my favorite ab workouts and has been very effective for me. Report
We use several of these moves in our Zumba class! Plus, I found a machine at the gym that I just love using: the Ab Coaster. You can add weights for added resistance, and it works lats and obliques! Report
I really like Jessica's workouts. I started using the moves last month and have seen improvements where I need them most. I am not where I want to be yet but I am getting there thanks to her easy workout plans every day I try a different type of workout out plan from her. Easy to understand and easy to motivate yourself at the same time. Report
I credit Jessica smith and her workouts for helping me lose 45/lbs and keep it off. Those of you making nasty comments about this article really need to check out her website and exercise videos. Jessica is upfront in saying its not possible to spot reduce. These are toning exercises. I have been doing her workouts for two years and have lost 4 inches around my waist and upper hips. As someone up thread said "lighten up". Report
If you select all under edit and then select export as PDF under file it saves the entire thing to your desktop or document files! :) Report
I just wanted to leave a comment for Lauren S. Did you read the article? Also bellies hang over pants because there is too much waist not ill fitting pants. Muffin top is an apt description for the excess that hangs over said pants. It looks like a muffin! I don't understand why this very good article is offensive to you. Lighten up!!! Report
Can I count this on my "Track Fitness" section? If so, how do I add it? Report
I agree with Amanda. I've been doing 30-day challenges since July now, and I definitely have spot toned different parts of my body, which actually is also burning fat and building muscle. I've seen it in different parts of the body. I know that diet is also very important in weight loss, but building muscle also burns more fat and raises your metabolism. Plus, if it just gets you moving and gets you started, it's better than sitting on the couch! :-) Report
I don't know whether to expect a reply, but I'm going to ask anyway. How often should I be doing these workouts and how long will it be until I start to see results? I'd just like to know so I can plan my exercises appropriately. I guess I could just do it every day for a couple of weeks and see how it goes, but I'd rather know ahead of time. Thanks for the replies if any come my way! Report
AMANDADAY63 I wish your comment had a LIKE button so that I could push it! A lot. Naysayers who say there is no spot-reducing should be thinking that this article is promoting body area TONING, and I hope they know that exists. If it didn't, millions of body-builders are just wasting their time.
And.... be kind! Report
Can't spot reduce fat, sorry. Report
about to try this out, thanks SP! Report
Definitely gonna add this to my routine. Wondering how many calories it burns... but either way, this is good stuff. Thanks for sharing. Report
Great tips here, the best way to lose love handles is by focusing mainly on your diet...too many people think losing weight is about exerting when that couldn't be farther from the truth! Report
Love it and will try! Report
Love this! I am going to add at least one move to my next workout! Report
The 1st exercise looked so easy that i stood up and tried it gently since i have spinal problems. My back made lots of sounds but it felt great. I plan to eventually carefully try the rest of the exercises. Definitely an article to save and refer back to often. Report
Here is what I did. I wanted to save them too so I copy and paste onto an email and sent it to myself. That way I can print also. I can cut also because I got all the ads and comments too. Give it a try. Report
I am able to save but cannot print it. Report
Trust me i was so interested by this work out .I saved all the images and am working on this Daily and have seen the difference .my Body is Tone for sure ..Kudos to Spark People magazine ur Great ..... Report
I wish I could track and save this workout Report
Love these ab exercises, but hate the term "muffin top". There is no such thing as a muffin top and it is just something that someone made up and another thing for us to hate about our bodies. Our tummies hang over our pants when they are ill-fitting and that's it! Focus on real parts of the body when making reference to exercises and use words like "core" and "abs" and "obliques" and stay away from useless and negative jargon! Spark People should also know that you cannot "whittle" away anything by doing these exercises! Reduction happens though cardio exercise and portion control as you should know! Stop feeding people myths and give them the truth about exercise! Thank you NAUSIKAA for your wisdom. The author should know better!
If you can't see the Save button, it's because you aren't logged in to the site. You can open the daily e-mails, but they don't automatically sign you in to the Spark People website. Hope that helps.

I love and need these exercises. Can't wait to try them out! Report
I don't see the save button either! I need to save this. Report
Can't find any save button?? Is it me or is it not saveable?? Report
These are GREAT exercises for people who DO NOT have back/spine issues :( Report
wow, looks supercool.. gonna try it Report
I love the versatile exercises listed in the article. But I think the title of the article is misleading. I agree that any exercise is good as long as it is performed safely. However, I thought that there is no such thing as "spot reduction" or exercises which target certain areas of the body. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you can only tone the muscles beneath the fat, but the exercise won't shrink the fat cells in one particular area. Report
There is a save button along the left side. It saves it to your "Spark Favorites".
I really like the look of this workout. I can't do it right now since I'm 3rd trimester into my pregnancy, but I love short, intense workouts for those times when life gets busy!

I wish there were a way to "save" articles, like you can "save" your favorite discussion threads. If anyone knows a way, can you please please please message me? Report
Would love a print out of this Report