If you struggle with love handles, you will want to add these two moves from Sharon Eaton, a fitness instructor at Piedmont Hospital Health and Fitness Club, to your exercise routine. While these exercises will strengthen the muscles on the sides of your waist, to get rid of love handles completely, you need to burn fat with cardiovascular exercise and a healthy diet. Aim for 30 minutes of your favorite form of cardio (running, swimming, cycling, dancing, walking, etc.) five days a week. All you will need for these moves is an exercise mat.
Lying on your side, stack your shoulders, hips, knees and feet so your body forms a straight line. Extend your bottom arm directly in front of you for support. From here, bend your knees so your feet are behind you and prop yourself up on your elbow. Lift your hips off the floor to form a side plank. Keep your side waist muscles engaged as you lift your hips. Do not drop your hips or let your top shoulder roll forward. Hold this position for 10 seconds. To really advance this move, slowly drop your hips to the floor and pull them back up to the top of the plank. If you are even more advanced, straighten your top arm toward the ceiling then reach down to wrap it around your waist, reaching behind your body. Complete one set of 15 reps and switch to your other side. Advance to three sets of 15 reps on each side.
Lower yourself onto your side, forming the same straight alignment you used in the side plank. This time, bend your knees forward in front of your body and place both hands behind your head for support. Exhale as your lift your torso off the floor, crunching at the waist. Inhale and lower to start. To advance this move, extend your bottom arm directly in front of you as you complete the crunches. Be sure you are not pressing into the floor with your bottom hand; you want your oblique muscles to do the work. To make things even more challenging, extend and lift your top leg as you crunch up with your upper body. Not only will you tone the love handle area, you will also condition the side of your leg. Complete one set of 15 reps and switch sides. Advance to three sets of 15 reps on each side.
Remember: there is no such thing as spot-reduction. To lose the love handles completely, you need to decrease your calorie intake with a healthy diet and increase your calorie expenditure through exercise.
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