Exercise alone will not tame the muffin top, but strengthening the muscles underneath the body fat that hangs around the waist is a great way to start. And remember, strong obliques mean a strong core, better posture, and toned abs. Along with a healthy diet and a regular doses of cardio, this BOSU workout will show some love to your love handles. Press play, and work your waist for a few minutes!
What is not to love about exercises that work multiple areas of my body at once? Challenging moves never bore. Plus, you can feel the benefits of core strength work almost immediately. This variation on the side plank targets your shoulders, waist, abs, back, outer thighs, and glute meds (the often under-worked muscle on the side of the pelvis that helps stabilize your hip joint).
- Place your right elbow on the ground. Extend both legs out so that your body is in one straight line, balancing on the outside edge of your right foot. Flex both feet, and reach your left hand to the ceiling.
- Keeping your spine lengthened and your abs engaged, lift your left leg up just higher than your top hip. Then slowly lower it back to your bottom leg.
- Keep your waist up and lifted, and don't sink into your bottom shoulder.
- Do three sets of 15 to 20 repetitions on each side.
The wood chop is a favorite exercise among trainers. In fact, it's celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson's favorite core exercise and is fast becoming one of ours, too. The wood chop really works the abs but targets the obliques, helping tone your muffin top. But unlike the static plank, the wood chop targets your middle while your middle is in motion, making this move a serious functional fitness maneuver. Grab a five- to 10-pound medicine ball, and get ready to learn the basics.
- Start with the feet a little wider than hip distance apart, keeping the knees slightly bent, and bring the medicine ball to your left shoulder.
- On an exhale, pull abs to spine, and "chop" the ball down diagonally across your body toward your right knee. Imagine you're chopping some wood at this angle and the ball is your axe — the move is a bit percussive.
- Focus on the rotation initiating in your torso.
- Control the ball back up to the starting position. This completes one rep.
- Remember you are moving with force but control. Don't give in to the momentum of swinging the ball around. Do three sets of 15 reps on each side.
Bored with the usual planks? Take your plank for a sideways walk with this move that'll target the core as well as the upper body. If shapely deltoids are your passion, this move will make them happen.
- Begin in plank position with your hands underneath your shoulders, body in one straight line.
- Simultaneously cross your right hand over your left, as you step your left foot to the left. Then simultaneously step your left hand and right foot to the left, so you're back in plank position. Your hands move together as your feet step apart.
- Repeat this for five steps to the left, and five steps to the right. Be sure to keep the hips low as you move, drawing the navel toward the spine.
- Repeat twice more for a total of three sets.
The plank is one of those moves that never fails us. Working the abs, arms, and back all at once, this move targets and tones the entire body. Before you tackle the various types of planks, here's how to do the basic version of this body-weight move.
- Start resting on all fours.
- With your palms flat, raise up off your knees onto your toes. Keep your hands directly below your shoulders.
- Contract your abs to keep yourself up and prevent your bottom from sticking up. Remember to keep your belly button pulled in.
- With your head and spine in line, keep your back flat — don't let it curve. Picture your body as a long, straight board.
- Hold as long as you can. Aim for 20 to 30 seconds in the beginning and work your way up to one minute as you get stronger.
- Lower down to rest, then repeat three times.
Even if you're scared of heights, you can benefit from cliff-diver Tara Hyer-Tira's core-strengthening move. Our friends at Self get the details on the award-winning daredevil's favorite ab move.
Let's talk divers, ladies: They jump from high up, usually into a pool. They throw in some impressive acrobatics and finish with a controlled entry into the water — certainly enough to warrant our "Oohs" and "Aahs." Now picture a diver jumping off the edge of a cliff 66 feet high (way higher than a standard pool diving board) and somersaulting toward the unpredictable ocean waters below. Impressed yet? That's right, cliff diving is real and it's a pretty badass, totally extreme sport.
"[Cliff diving is] scary, yet incredibly exhilarating!" says Tara Hyer-Tira, who won a bronze medal in last month's Red Bull Cliff Diving women's competition in Malcesine, Italy. "It's important to keep your fear in check and do what you've been practicing."
When Hyer-Tira is twisting and somersaulting at over 80 mph toward the water, you better believe she relies on her rock-solid core to keep her body safe. "A strong core is important to prevent lower back injuries in diving, especially when entering the water with such strong impact," she says.
One of her go-to exercises? V-ups, a move that blows the everyday crunch out of the water. They're tough, but if it means having a diver's body, we're game for the challenge — so long as we don't have to jump off a 66-foot cliff anytime soon.
No matter how you slice it or dice it, the BOSU makes everything harder — in a good way. Take your basic plank, add the BOSU into the equation, and your core is working overtime. Here's a progression of plank exercises for this devilish piece of equipment that assures a good burn!
- Basic Plank: You start in a basic plank with the ball side of the BOSU facing down. This can be quite a challenge and an exercise unto itself. If just doing this plank variation, hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds, and repeat three times.
- Knee Up: For an added challenge, while holding the plank pull your right knee to your chest and hold there for two or three seconds. Return to the plank, and switch legs for one complete rep. Do 10 reps altogether. You need to keep the BOSU stable throughout the exercise — that's what makes it tough.
- Add a Twist: Start in plank, pull your right knee toward your chest, twist to the left, and kick your right leg out to straight. Reverse the action, untwist, bring knee to chest, then return to plank. Do 10 times on each side. This one is tough, but it makes more sense to your body on the second set. Do two to three sets of this move while keeping the BOSU stable.
If you're looking to work your backside while toning your arms and abs, this ball exercise is for you. Holding the plank gives your arms a nice workout; while keeping steady on the ball, as you lift your leg, kicks your core into high gear.
- Lie your belly onto an exercise ball, and walk your hands out until the ball is under your shins. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders.
- Draw your navel toward your spine to engage your abs and stabilize your torso.
- Lift your left leg up, squeezing your glute, then slowly lower your leg back onto the ball. Switch sides and lift the right leg keeping your pelvis square. This counts as one repetition. Complete three sets of 10 to 12 reps.
If you're looking to tone your abs with some killer full-body moves, then you need to try TRX. This form of suspension training takes body-weight exercises to a whole new level, forcing your core to kick into high gear. We set up a TRX system on the roof of Equinox in West LA to teach you three essential and effective ab exercises. Watch this video to learn more about how TRX works, and then try these moves at your gym.
If you're curious to learn more about TRX, then read our interview with its creator, former Navy SEAL Randy Hetrick. He explains why TRX is good for endurance athletes, power lifters, and fitness newbies alike.
Now is the time to get beach-ready, and the three-point touch is perfect for toning your abs. Get the skinny on this plank variation here, and then see how many reps you can do in 60 seconds. You can do anything for a minute!
Let us know how you did in the comments section below.