The "love handles" or "muffintop"...this is the area just above your hips on your sides.
That being said, I don't know many people who truly love theirs, which is why one of THE most common training goals around is getting rid of those things.
Here's the problem...sometimes, even fat loss doesn't always cut it when it comes to reducing the love handle area. Sure, you can peel off a lot of the fat, but even LEAN people sometimes find that this area STILL sticks out more than it should for the amount of bodyfat they carry.
It can be a VERY frustrating thing, knowing that you're doing all you can to lose fat and your love handles are still there.
There IS hope, though...and it's NOT surgery! I've got an exercise for you that will help to tighten up the muscles (the obliques) that lie directly UNDERNEATH the love handle area.
KEY POINT...This exercise WILL NOT burn fat directly from the love handles...
While this exercise won't burn any of the fat that sits there (NO ab exercises will do THAT), it WILL help reduce the appearance and bulge of the area, giving you the more streamlined waist you want.
So what is this magical exercise? It's the "Trunk Twist With a Twist." This technique was a favorite of legendary bodybuilder Serge Nubret for achieving the wasp-thin waist he was famous for.
On the surface, this exercise looks a lot like the regular broomstick twist you see people doing to warm up sometimes. Here's the difference...instead of just mindlessly rotating your torso from side to side, you're going to focus on SQUEEZING the obliques hard while keeping your head LOCKED in a forward position.
This squeezing technique will dramatically tighten the obliques and help you diminish those love handles once and for all!
How To Do Trunk Twists with a Twist:
First, here's how NOT to do the trunk twist.
The most common trunk twist exercise you see people doing is pretty much a waste of time. They twist around, rotating the entire torso around.
This is NOT effective for tightening up the waist and it's also potentially damaging to the lower back (especially if done using one of those twisting machines at the gym).
The version of the twist I'm going to show you is much more effective...in that it actually WORKS where the regular version actually DOESN'T.
The setup for this one is simple. Put a bar or stick across your shoulders with your hands over the top and arms stretched out to the sides. Stand with your feet about a foot apart.
Now begin to twist your upper body around to the left side.
Here is the key...while you are twisting, keep your head facing STRAIGHT FORWARD instead of turning your head along with your torso as you normally would. This is extremely important! If you turn your head, the exercise will be useless!
The idea here is to imagine like you're trying to touch your left hip bone to your right shoulder while rotating the shoulders and keeping your head forward. It's almost like wringing out a wet towel.
It's a good idea to do this exercise in front of a mirror (if you have one available), so you can see exactly what is going on. Look straight at yourself in the mirror and DO NOT move your head while you twist your torso (in fact, for a little extra squeeze, you can try to look as much as you can the OPPOSITE way).
Keep twisting all the way around until you've turned as far as you can. When doing this twist, I like to try to tilt the bar down a bit towards the side I'm twisting to. This helps to increase the activation of the obliques by bending the torso over to the side a bit.
IMPORTANT FORM NOTE
When performing this exercise, in order to keep the tension off the spine, focus on using the rotated body position to simply facilitate the strong contraction in the obliques.
In other words, you’re not using the obliques to forcibly twist the body into that position, but instead you're putting your body into the rotated position and THEN contracting the obliques hard because the body is in the position to get the strongest contraction.
In other words, don't force it... turn THEN squeeze.
At the maximum point of the twist, squeeze the oblique area (right where your love handles are), contracting it AS HARD AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN and holding it for 3 to 5 seconds. This is the "money" part of the exercise. Again, the actual twist only serves to get you into that position.
You should tense it up like somebody is about to punch you in the side, right under the rib cage and you have to brace for impact.
When you've squeezed everything out of the left side, rotate around to the right side and do the same thing.
It's a simple exercise mechanic...keeping your head and your hips forward will make a HUGE difference in how this exercise feels and works.
Here's the side view. You can see in the first picture how I'm bringing my left knee forward a bit to help keep the hip forward.
To get the best results out of this exercise, perform it at the end of every single workout you do. Do just one or two sets of between 15 and 30 reps, squeezing the obliques HARD on every single rep.
You WILL notice a difference in the tightness of your waist very quickly.
1. Going too fast
It is important to slow this exercise down and get a good squeeze on every single turn. If you simply bounce from one stretch to the other, you'll get nothing out of this exercise. The only good part is the contraction.
2. Not squeezing the obliques hard
As in #1, if you don't squeeze, you won't get results. Going through the motions won't do a thing for you.
3. Letting your head turn with your torso
If you turn your head along with your torso, the effect of the exercise will be greatly reduced. If you find that you have a hard time keeping your head forward, try turning it the other way as you turn your torso. This will help to put the squeeze on your sides.
1. Raising the knee
To help increase the squeeze on the obliques, as you twist to one side, come up on your toes to raise your knee up towards your opposing hand as it comes around, e.g. if you're twisting to the left, raise your left knee to try and meet your right hand.
This increases the contraction on the obliques by helping to shorten the muscle from the other end (below), basically the opposing action to tilting the bar down that I mentioned prior.
2. Breathe in and out
Hold the contraction for a few seconds and breathe in and out, squeezing out all the air you can on each exhalation. This will help get an even tighter contraction in the area.
3. Pull with one hand, push with the other
As you do the twist, push with the far hand and pull with the other for a greater contraction. For example, if you're twisting to the left, pull on the bar with your left hand and push it forward with your right.
4. Suck in your gut
As you come towards the full turn, suck in your gut. This places an even greater contraction on the oblique muscle, tightening it up even further.
This exercise requires some practice to really get the maximum squeeze out of the muscles, but once you know how to do it, you'll love it. This is not a power or resistance-based exercise. It's all about the squeeze and the contraction.
Now that you've learned how to decrease your love handle area, an excellent exercise for targeting the lower abs/pooch belly area is the Lying Pooch Belly Leg Raise.
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