Of all the areas of your body to firm up, love handles — those fatty bulges on either side of your waist — may be some of the hardest to coax into shape. Traditional exercises like crunches or sit-ups won’t do the trick, since they predominantly work your rectus and transverse abdominis, while what you need to focus on are your obliques. Plus, love handles are as much about excess flab as they are untoned muscle, meaning if you want to clean them up, you’re going to have to start with your diet.
As you undoubtedly know by now, you can’t spot-reduce fat on your body. In other words, skipping seconds and avoiding sugary desserts isn’t going to make love handles magically melt away from your waist. It will, however, help slim the whole of you down, and as your body becomes smaller, so will your side pouches.
Once you’ve got your diet where you want it (full of whole grains, leafy greens, lean protein, and healthy fats like olive oil), it’s time to start thinking about which exercises will be most beneficial to your love handle-less physique. The moves here, which can be banged out in 15 minutes or less, require minimal equipment and very little space. Just a kettlebell, weighted medicine ball, exercise mat, and clear living-room floor and you’re good to go.
Along with your healthy eating plan, do the 7 moves here three times a week for one month to see measurable changes in your love handles.
Traditional planks target some of the muscles you want to work, but the biggest impact will come from turning this move on its side. Resting on one elbow, raise your hips in the air so that you create a straight line from your top shoulder to your feet. Hold for five seconds, then dip your hips toward the floor and raise them again (don’t let them touch the floor).
How many: Do 10 dips or one minute, whichever comes first. Switch sides.
Start in an extended plank position: arms straight, body in one long line from your shoulders to your feet. Bend left elbow to the floor, then right, lowering your body into a low plank position. Straighten arms and return to start.
How many: Repeat 10 times.
Kettlebell Side Bends
Stand with feet should-width apart, holding a kettlebell in your right hand. Bend laterally to the right, letting the weight drop toward the floor. Return to standing.
How many: Do 10 reps to the right, then 10 to the left. 2 sets.
Kettlebell Twist Squats
Hold a kettlebell in both hands, elbows bent, arms tucked in to your chest. Squat and twist your torso to the right as you do. Return to center as you stand up. Squat and twist left.
How many: Repeat left/right sequence 10 times.
Ball Knee Drops
Lie on your back on your exercise mat, knees bent, feet flat on floor. Place your arms out to the side for balance. Squeeze a medium-size weighted ball (6-8 pounds) between your knees. Raise your feet off the floor so that your shins face the ceiling. Slowly drop your knees over to one side of your body, keeping your back flat on the floor. Squeeze the ball between your legs so it does not come lose. Rotate your knees back to center, then over to the opposite side.
How many: 10 reps, 2 sets.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a kettlebell or weighted ball with both hands in front of you. Shift your weight to your left leg, and twist your torso to the left as you raise your arms diagonally up and over your left shoulder. Twist your body to the right and shift your weight back right as your lower your arms down to your right hip in a chopping motion.
How many: Repeat 10 times, then switch sides. 2 sets.
Start sitting on the floor on an exercise mat, knees bent, feet flat on floor. Hold a weight ball in both hands, arms extended in front of you. Lean back about 45 degrees. Twist your torso to the right, allowing your arms to come across your chest and dip toward the floor on your right side. Then twist left. (Note: To make this harder, lift your feet off the floor several inches and hold legs stationary as your rotate your upper body.)
How many: 10 reps, 2 sets.
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