Fit Tip: Love Your Love Handles
Love handles. Muffin top. Side Abs. Or the technical term: internal and external obliques. Whatever you want to call them, our love handles (I have to admit, I kinda like that term....so positive!) are a main area we try to target in our workouts. But they also happen to be pretty important muscles of the core that can get overlooked and underworked.
We hear a lot about the "six pack" muscles, especially this time of year during swimsuit season, but our obliques are an essential part of our core. Our core is our center, where all our movement begins and ends. These muscles keep us balanced, with our obliques working to help to stabilize and protect our torso. Training our obliques supports our back, lowers our risk for injuries or aches, and promotes better posture. Strong obliques also keep us healthy for the everyday movements that involve spinal rotation. How often do you turn, reach, twist, or stretch throughout your day? Thank those obliques!
You've probably heard it said before: “You can't spot train”. It’s true, you can't exercise one part of your body and expect the fat to just melt away. We have to be working our entire body for strength and endurance (as well as watching our diet) to really see changes in body composition.
However, you CAN "spot tone" or "spot strengthen." You can help reach your fitness goals by spending a little extra time working the muscle groups where you’d like to see results. Below is a quick breakdown of my top four ways to show some extra love to your love handles, as well as a bonus workout!
Think rotational movement. We move in all different directions in our daily lives, so our workouts should, too! Working out in our transverse plane is crucial for muscles and joints, and adding rotational movements like wood chops and medicine ball throws will not only help build definition, but aid in functional daily movements.
Perform both standing exercises and mat exercises. We tend to think of most core work as on the mat, but there are plenty of standing exercises to train your obliques. Lateral movements, side and cross knees, and variations on a kettlebell or dumbbell windmill are some classic examples of ways to work those sides from a vertical position.
Add some weight. Muscles respond to overload, and our obliques are no different. Adding a dumbbell (or two) is a great way to keep progressing for strength and appearance.
SIDE PLANK! These are by far my favorite exercises for obliques, and the great news is, there are so many variations. Holding, performing repetitions, rotating through, adding arms or legs all keep your core working hard.
Remember to keep the big picture (overall fitness!) in mind, but show some extra love for your love handles a few days a week for a stronger, leaner, and more functional core.
LOVE HANDLE WORKOUT
Do each exercise for 15 repetitions on the right side, then 15 repetitions on the left side.
- Wood Chop Side Knee
- Side Plank Dip and Twist
- Side Plank Rotation with Top Side Knee
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