If you are anything like the many readers out there who struggle to tone those pesky muscles — sometimes referred to as love handles — then you’re surely familiar with the amount of work needed when it’s time to whip them into shape. The oblique muscles — which make up the area that we call “love handles” — require specialized and targeted exercises to reduce the amount of fat stored on top of them. While not impossible to do, working these muscles cuts down on the “pooch” that can sometimes sit on top of our waistbands.
Think of your obliques and abs as college roommates that are forced to get along. They live right next door to each other, and they usually cannot work without one another.
Targeted oblique muscle exercises build force that burns through fat and slims you down. When engaged, obliques aid in your torso’s rotation from side to side. The obliques are actually made up of internal and external muscles. They work together to help your body twist and rotate, stabilizing your core and strengthening your back. By exercising these muscles regularly, not only will you smooth out your sides, but you’ll also be laying the foundation for a stronger mid to upper body and reducing lower back pain.
Obliques and abs are BFFs
Think of your obliques and abs as college roommates that are forced to get along. They live right next door to each other, and they usually cannot work without one another. When you work your obliques, your abs also receive some exercise and vice versa. And who doesn’t enjoy stronger and smoother abs as a byproduct of oblique work? It’s kind of like getting two for the price of one, right? Thanks to the help of DailyBurn 365’s trainer CeCe Marizu, the following exercises have been given detailed instructions for us eager exercisers to follow in the hopes of hauling in our growing “handles.”
Side plank with reach-through
To do this one, you will start by lying down on your side with your bottom elbow touching the ground. Raise your hips off the ground to form your body into a straight line from the ankles to the shoulders. Extend your top arm up so that it’s perpendicular to the ground.
You’ll then reach under and past your hips with your top hand, keeping your torso firmly in place. Then, reverse the motion back to the starting position and continue on the opposite side.
In this exercise, you’ll begin by sitting upright on a yoga mat with your legs extended out in front of you. Spreading them as wide as the mat, you’ll then form a “T” with your arms out to the sides. Twist toward your right side, stretching your left hand down toward your right foot. Pulse three times, then twist yourself upward and return to center. Repeat on the left side.
Mountain climber twist
To start, begin by placing a box in front of you. You’ll then get into a high plank position with both palms placed firmly on top of the box. With your back flat and abs engaged, lift your right foot up and bring your right knee toward your left elbow. Then, return to the starting position. Lift your left foot and bring your left knee to your right elbow. Again, return to the starting position and continue alternating sides.
Begin by getting into a push-up position with your shoulders directly over your hands. Lift your right foot a few inches off the ground and bring your right knee toward your right elbow as you lower your body into a push-up. Make sure your hips don’t drop and your back doesn’t arch — you want to remain still. Return your right foot back to the starting position as you push yourself back up. Repeat on the left side.
With this one, you’ll start by sitting with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor in front of you. Keep your right hand firmly on the ground behind you and your left arm bent by your side. Then, lift your bottom off the floor while extending your left arm behind you, and reach for your right side as you come into a reverse tabletop position. Return to the starting position and repeat on the left side.
Side plank with knee drive
In this final exercise, begin by lying on your right side and propping yourself up onto your right forearm. Then, stack your left foot on top of your right foot, keeping your body in a nice and straight line. Keep your left hand over your left hip and engage your core. Drive your right knee up to your chest, and repeat before switching to the other side.
A bit more advice
It’s important to note that all exercising should be prefaced with stretching and preparing your body for working out. Also, long and exhaustive workouts are usually not necessary when toning and strengthening muscles. It has been shown that shorter bursts of high-intensity workouts are more effective than long and tiring versions.
If you’ve noticed yourself holding onto your sides more often when trying on jeans, now may be the time to implement some of these great oblique and ab exercises. By doing so, you’ll be giving yourself an entire love handle-themed workout routine. Not only will you be strengthening your core overall, but you’ll also be building back muscles. You may even prevent an injury down the road.
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