As women, we’re all equipped with body fat that insulates us from root to tip. This is totally normal—healthy women typically have at least 10% more body fat than men do—but the trouble comes when we accumulate just a little bit too much around the middle of our abdomens. The colloquial term for this phenomenon: love handles.
While small love handles aren’t anything to worry about, if there’s too much of a good thing, the results can be quite unpleasant: the dreaded muffin top starts to make an appearance. And nobody wants that.
Read on for five ways to work on lessening your love handles that don’t totally suck. They neither require long visits to the gym nor that you starve yourself; instead, they’re relatively painless exercises that won’t eat up (pun fully intended) too much of your time or your general joy in living. Will they make you sweat? Sure, but nothing worth doing is easy.
1. Side Plank With Hip Dips
Starting from an upper-pushup plank position, bring your right hand directly under your nose. Bring your feet together behind you, then roll to the outside edge of your right foot and stack your left foot on top of it. Lift your hand off the ground, so all your weight is balanced on your right hand and edge of your right foot. Pull your belly in toward your spine, then dip both your hips down until they almost touch the ground. Lift them back up toward the ceiling. Repeat this movement 10 times on each side, and do three sets. This is a fantastic exercise for your oblique muscles, those abdominal muscles that live on the sides of your core.
2. Boat Pose With Twists
This one’s a move derived from traditional Pilates: sit on the floor and lift your legs and feet away from the ground. Bend your knees at 90 degree-angles and lean your torso back about 45 degrees. Bring your arms our long in front of you and press your palms together like a prayer. (Your body should look like the letter “V,” but with bent knees.) Sit up tall on an inhale, then as you exhale, twist your arms over to the right until they touch the floor beside you. Inhale back to center, then exhale to twist the other way. Repeat 25 times.
3. Plank With Knee Twists
Start in an upper-pushup plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders, then come down to your forearms. Lift up your right foot, extending your leg out straight behind you. Take a deep breath in, then on the exhale bend your leg and bring your right knee to your left elbow. Extend the leg back and place it down, then switch sides. Repeat 10 times on each side.
4. Leg Circles
Lie down on your back with your arms down by your hips, palm down. Pull your lower abdominal muscles in toward your spine, then lift your legs up toward the ceiling so your body forms an “L” shape. Pull your legs down toward the ground over to right, but before they touch the floor, bring them center so they’re hovering above the floor. Then pull them over to the left, and back up to center toward the ceiling; your legs should be making a big circle. Do it 10 times toward the right, then 10 times on the left.
5. Good Posture
Believe it or not, sitting up straight while you’re at your desk, having lunch, or just walking around can significantly impact your love handles. When you’re at your computer, for example, sit up tall and gently pull your stomach muscles in toward your spinal column. This slight, ongoing activation of your core muscles will help tone them while also burning more calories a day. It’s a subtle change that can make a big difference.