A 10-Minute Love Handle Workout

Love handles can be a challenge to get rid of. Here's what you need to know to reduce side bulges

Love handles—pockets of fat that sit above the hip bone and cover the oblique muscles—are notoriously difficult to lose. 

Sometimes referred to as a "muffin top" for the way it spills over a tight waistband, the sides of the waist are one of the first spots to collect excess fat. And they're one of the last places to lose it.

Since love handles sit on the sides of the abdominal area, you might think that a typical ab workout is all you need to blast it away. Unfortunately, an ab workout isn't the trick. As it turns out, love handles lie on top of the obliques, a group of abdominal muscles that can be tricky to target. 

However, these four exercises can hone in on the obliques and help tighten and tone the sides of your abdominal area. 

But keep in mind: You can't spot-reduce fat loss. You can target your obliques to maximize toning, but you can only lose love-handle fat through a calorie deficit. Cardio and diet are critical ingredients for shrinking love handles.

Losing Fat Around the Middle

You can do endless crunches, but your toned abs will never be seen unless you get rid of excess fat through healthy eating. So, here's the best strategy for kicking your love handles to the curb.

The first step is to eat lean and clean. What you put into your body has much to do with how your body processes, stores, and eliminates excess calories and fat. Clean eating is typically defined as eating whole, unprocessed foods and avoiding alcohol, refined sugar, and food additives.

Next, you'll want to add a 30-minute cardio session every other day. If you're feeling hardcore, beef it up to six days per week. 

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, moderate physical activity, 30 to 40 minutes per day, three to five days per week, is ideal for weight loss.

Third, you'll want to try following this four-exercise 10-minute love handle workout. With moves approved by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), this workout hits the obliques hard and fast while also working the rest of your core.

The 10-Minute Love Handle Workout

The following exercises work your oblique muscles. Remember to engage your core as you perform the moves. Your core includes all of the muscles on your body's front, back, and sides, from the bottom of your rib cage to below your butt. Some of the exercises are advanced, so try learning them in stages. 

Repeat the following circuit of four exercises three times. Try to move quickly from one exercise to the next exercise while maintaining the proper form. Aim to do the entire routine three times a week for the best results.

Wood Choppers

The standing wood chop is an advanced ab exercise that targets the obliques. According to the experts at ACE, here's how you do the exercise:

  1. Using one hand weight, stand with your feet hip-width apart with your weight on your left leg. 
  2. Start by holding the weight in both hands up by your left shoulder. 
  3. Next, twist to make a chopping motion down towards your right hip.
  4. Allow your feet and knees to pivot with a twist. Raise the weight back to your left shoulder and repeat for 20 reps. 
  5. Next, work your right side.

Seated Trunk Rotations

Also known as Russian twists, the seated trunk rotation works all abdominal muscles, including the obliques. While doing the exercise, it's important to brace your core muscles to protect your lower back and spine.

If you are new to trunk rotations, you can modify the move by keeping your feet on the floor. Work up to completing 50 rotations in each set. You may need to split it into five groups of 10 with a brief rest between sets.

Here's how to complete the exercise:

  1. Sit on your butt with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Your torso should be leaning back at a 45 angle to the floor.
  2. Hold a dumbbell or medicine ball with both hands.
  3. Lift your feet, crossing them at the ankles and balancing on your butt.
  4. From that position, twist your torso to the right. Touch your dumbbell to the ground next to your body.
  5. Next, twist back over to the left, touching the weight to the left side of your body. 
  6. Repeat back and forth, all while balancing with your legs and torso raised off of the ground.

Side Plank Hip Lifts

Side plank hip lifts give the obliques and hip muscles a serious workout. If this move is too advanced for you, the ACE advises modifying it by keeping your knees bent.

Here's how you complete the exercise:

  1. Get into a side plank position with your elbow, legs, and hips resting on the ground.
  2. Engage your abs and keep your body in a straight line as you raise the lower half of your body off the ground into a straight plank position.
  3. Lower again, and repeat 15 times on each side.

Bicycle Crunches

Perhaps one of the most widely used oblique exercises, the supine bicycle crunch, this exercise is an intermediate-level core strengthener.  

When doing bicycle crunches, ACE advises keeping your motions slow and controlled. The rotation should come from your trunk, not your hips. To protect your spine, press your lower back to the floor and keep your core muscles engaged.

Here's how you complete the exercise:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your hands behind your head. Do not clasp your hands together. 
  2. Engage your abs, lifting your shoulders and upper back off the ground. At the same time, move your right elbow toward your left knee to meet in the middle of your body.
  3. Next, switch your position by bringing your left elbow to your right knee. Repeat 30 times. 

If you cannot keep your torso raised off the ground for 30 rotations on each side, split it into three sets of 10 for each circuit.

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6 Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Key recommendations.

  2. American Council on Exercise. Exercise database & library.

  3. American Council on Exercise. Standing wood chop.

  4. American Council on Exercise. Seated medicine ball trunk rotations.

  5. American Council on Exercise. Side plank with straight leg.

  6. American Council on Exercise. Supine bicycle crunches.

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