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Tone up your love handles!

stomach-measuring-tapeAlthough you can’t pick and choose the areas of your body where you want to drop fat, you can choose exercises that will help spot tone muscles in specific areas. Remember that in order to lose bodyfat, you need to commit yourself to a healthy, well-balanced diet and a regular cardio routine.

The basic movement to help tone up the sides of your abs is a side to side twist in your belly area. Make sure you don’t overdo it, and include it as part of a full body training programme. If you only train your abs and not your back, your muscles at the front can develop too much and pull your posture forward and down!

Here are five of our favourite exercises for tightening and toning up love handles (your obliques):

1. Bicycle crunches (20 reps)

Lie flat on your back, knees in the air to 90 degrees and fingers resting lightly behind your ears. Twist through your belly and try to touch your opposite elbow to opposite knee, letting your other foot drop down to lightly touch the ground. Swap sides to repeat. A common mistake is to do these too quickly. Take your time, big exhale every time you twist and make sure you feel it in your belly. If your neck feels like it’s straining, put your hands behind your head for support but make sure you don’t pull on it.

2. Side to side leg drops (20 reps)

Lying on your back, raise knees in the air to 90 degrees, arms flat out at sides level with your shoulders, palms facing down. Slowly take your knees over to the left side, keeping your upper body in place – don’t let them touch the ground! Then slowly take them to the other side. You should feel your belly muscles engage.

3. Standing side to side foot touches (20 reps)

Stand with your legs a bit wider than hip distance apart. Bend down and touch opposite hand to opposite foot. Stand up, repeat other side. If too easy, you can add some light dumbells (if you have no dumbells, use full water bottles).

4. Side raises (20 reps each side)

Lie on your side with feet either stacked or one in front/one behind, supporting forearm is flat on the floor with either the palm facing down or clenched into a fist. Top hand should rest on your hip. Slowly lift your hip off the ground (your forearm and foot/feet should be the only parts of you on the ground) then return to rest on the ground. That’s one rep! Do all the reps on one side first, then swap sides and complete the rest.

5. Side bends (20 in all)

Standing palms facing in towards your sides with dumbells in each hand (or use the full water bottles), slowly slide one hand down the side of your thigh, bending sideways – go only as far as feels comfortable, stopping before you reach the knee. Repeat other side.

Image / FreeDigitalPhotos.net – luigi diamante

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