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 muffin top for the way it spills over a tight waistband, the sides of the waist are often one of the first spots to collect excess adipose tissue (fat) and the last place 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, this isn't the case. Love handles lie on top of the obliques, a group of abdominal muscles that can be tricky to target. These four exercises, below, hone in on the obliques and help to tighten and tone this trouble spot.

That being said, it's a myth that you can spot-reduce fat loss. Yes, you can target your obliques to maximize toning, but love-handle fat can only be lost through a calorie deficit. Cardio and diet are key ingredients for shrinking love handles.

Losing Fat Around the Middle

You can do crunches until the cows come home, but your toned abs will never be seen unless you get rid of your 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 eat 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 in a 30-minute cardio session every other day. If you're feeling really hardcore, beef it up to 6 days a week. A Duke University study found that people who walked for about 30 minutes 6 days a week gained hardly any abdominal fat over an 8-month period.

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. It's sure to give those love handles a run for their money.

The 10-Minute Love Handle Workout

The following exercises are proven to work oblique muscles. Remember to engage your core as you do these moves. The core includes all of the muscles on the front, back, and sides of your body from the bottom of your rib cage to below your butt. Some of these exercises are advanced and should be learned in stages.

Repeat the following circuit of four exercises three times. Try to move as quickly as possible from one exercise to the next exercise. Aim to do this full routine three times a week for the best results.

Wood Choppers

The standing wood chop is an advanced ab exercise that targets the obliques. Perfecting this move should be done in three stages, according to the experts at ACE. The first stage is a spiral rotation of the arms. The second stage adds hip rotation and bending to the move. The third stage adds torso rotation to the move.

How to do it:Using one hand weight, stand with your feet hip-width apart with your weight on your left leg. Start by holding the weight in both hands up by your left shoulder. Next, twist to make a chopping motion down towards your right hip.

Allow your feet and knees to pivot with a twist. Raise the weight back up to your left shoulder and repeat for 20 reps. Next work your right side.

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Seated Trunk Rotations

Also known as Russian twists, the seated trunk rotation works all of the abdominal muscles, including the obliques. It is important to brace your core muscles to protect your lower back and spine while doing this exercise, according to ACE.

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

How to do it: 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. Hold a dumbbell or medicine ball with both hands. Lift your feet from the ground, crossing them at the ankles and balancing on your butt. From this position, twist your torso to the right and touch your dumbbell to the ground next to your body.

Next, twist back over to the left touching the weight to the left side of your body. Repeat back and forth, all while balancing with your legs and torso raised off of the ground.

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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, ACE advises modifying it by keeping your knees bent.

How to do it: Get into a side plank position with your elbow on the ground and your legs and hips resting on the ground. Engage your abs and keep your body in a straight line as you raise the lower half of your body up off the ground into a straight plank position. Lower again and repeat 15 times on each side.

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Bicycle Crunches

Perhaps the most widely used oblique exercise, the supine bicycle crunch 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.

How to do it: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your hands behind your head. Do not clasp your hands together. Engage your abs, lifting your shoulders and upper back off of the ground. At the same time, move your right elbow toward your left knee to meet in the middle of your body.

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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