Strength training exercises help tone the sides of the stomach.
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Flabby obliques, also referred to as muffin top or love handles, can turn wearing a certain pair of pants into an unpleasant experience. First and foremost, weight loss requires diet and exercise. Doing at least 150 minutes of cardio exercise and two strength-training sessions each week will burn calories and help drop pounds. Combine that with a healthy diet, focused on lean proteins, whole grains, vegetables, healthy fats and fruits and you will see changes in your body's shape. Working the obliques during training sessions will tighten and tone the abdominal muscles. The results will be obvious after general weight-loss occurs.
While the thought of jumping rope may conjure images of an elementary school playground, a quick session helps tone your muscles, including your obliques, while increasing cardiovascular endurance and burning calories. In fact, running an eight-minute mile burns the same amount of calories as jumping rope for the same amount of time, reports WebMD. Try jumping for 10 to 20 minutes, increasing your duration and speed after you build strength.
One Side at a Time
Side planks tone the obliques while strengthening the lower back, arms and shoulders. Lie on your left side and stack your shoulders, hips, knees and heels. Lift your left hand off the floor and place it under your left shoulder. Rest your right arm on your right side and pull your right shoulder back slightly. Keeping it pulled back helps maintain correct form and isolates your obliques. Straighten your left arm, then lift your hips and knees into a straight line with your shoulders and heels. Lower to your knees if this position is too hard. Hold for 20 to 60 seconds, stopping when the left side of your stomach fatigues.
Crunch Your Way to Tight Abs
The standing oblique crunch is an exercise that "Health" magazine recommends doing to challenge the sides of the abdomen. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand, stand up straight and position your feet slightly wider than your shoulders. Bend your knees slightly, then shift your weight onto your left leg. Place your left arm on your left hip and lift your right arm overhead. Move the dumbbell over your head, to your left. Drop your left shoulder and bend your torso to accommodate the movement. Stop when you feel a stretch on the right side of your stomach. Keeping your shoulders squared forward, simultaneously lower your right elbow to your right side while lifting your right knee toward it. Bend your torso as you lower your elbow. Pause before they touch, return your arm overhead and your foot to the floor. Complete 12 to 15 reps, pass the weight to your left hand and do 12 to 15 crunches on your opposite side.
Have a Ball
Incorporating a stability ball into your routine is an effective way to tone the obliques. Lie on your back and position a stability ball between your feet. Press firmly against it to hold it in place throughout the exercise. Place your arms on the floor, then slide your hands and wrists into alignment with your shoulders. This will help anchor your body throughout the exercise. Gaze upward, tighten your stomach muscles and press your lower back against the floor. Lift the ball over your hips, then slowly lower the ball to your right. Stop before the ball touches the floor, pause and lift it above your hips. Lower the ball to your left, pause, and return it to the center to complete the first repetition. Don't lower as much if your lower back arches or if you are unable to keep your shoulders on the floor. Complete 12 to 15 reps.
Do the Twist
Seated torso twists challenge the obliques while building lower back strength. Sit on the ground, bend your knees and place your feet on the floor. Hold a medicine ball with both hands, straighten your arms and lift the ball above your knees. Straighten your back, retract your shoulder blades and squeeze your stomach muscles. Twist your torso and arms to your right while keeping your hips squared forward. Stop when you can't twist any further, lower the ball 2 inches, lift it and return to center. Twist to your left, lower the ball and return to center. Continue alternating until you complete 12 to 15 twists on each side.