Maintaining a healthy weight doesn't always exempt you from carrying a little extra heft above the hips. While there's no miracle move to zap over-the-jeans jiggle, doing exercises that will attack your love handles from every angle can help you shrink the most stubborn type of fat.
"The biggest mistake people make is focusing on the abdominals, trying to crunch and bicycle their way to a slimmer waistline," says Andrea Metcalf, NASM-CPT, author of Naked Fitness. "Focus on the entire core, including your obliques, lats, and back muscles."
But your quest for a flatter tummy doesn't stop at the gym. "Regional fat storage has a lot to do with diet, lifestyle, and overall body fat level," says Carey Yang, a certified personal trainer and owner of Beyond Fitness Solutions in Denville, NJ. In addition to overall weight loss and eating a diet rich in belly-flattening foods (like these), Yang suggests keeping levels of estrogen, insulin, and cortisol in balance by managing stress and getting a good night's rest. (For more tips on how to keep these hormones in check, read Are Hormones Sabotaging Your Weight Loss?)
The following moves will help strengthen the muscles that surround your waistline, and many of the moves can be done at home without any special equipment. Yang says to perform two or three 45-minute strength-training sessions each week, and dedicate 10 to 15 minutes to abs and core exercises, like the ones that follow. (Search: Benefits of a flat tummy) "Alternate between upper-body and lower-body exercises for a total-body workout," he says. "If you do them right, you work your core and ab muscles in every strength-training move. To increase fat burn, jog or march in place for 1 minute between each exercise, advises Lucy Wyndham-Read, creator of the Lose Your Muffin Top in 28 Days app.
Grab a chair, but don't sit back and relax. The following moves force your abs to stabilize your lower body while your upper body rotates, working your internal and external obliques as well as your lower back. "The deeper the contraction, the more stretch and mobility you have in the twists," says Terri Walsh, creator of the Active Resistance Training Method and owner of A.R.T. Studio in New York City. "This means that the waist pulls in and the lower back smoothes out to eliminate your muffin top."
Chair Rotation: Place a yoga block, thick book, or rolled towel on the seat of an armless chair and sit on the chair facing its back with your arms and elbows above the back of the chair. Use your legs to grip the chair. Press your feet into the floor, pulling your navel toward your spine. Extend your arms out to the sides so they form a T with your torso. With your palms facing upward, bend your elbows slightly. Press the shoulders down to stabilize them while you rotate your ribcage side to side, your right elbow aiming for the left side of the chair and your left elbow aiming for the right side. Don't count reps, just rotate from side to side, elbows touching the chair, for 1 to 2 minutes. For more of a challenge, hold a set of dumbbells or wear 2- or 3-pound wrist weights.
Reverse Bicycle Crunch: Stand in front of an armless chair, slightly closer than 2 feet away, facing the seat. Keeping your legs straight, bend at your waist and place both hands on the sides of the seat. Extend your right arm forward and your left leg back, keeping your raised arm and leg parallel to the floor. Leading with your elbow, pull your right arm under your body while drawing in your left knee to meet under your navel. Try to get your right arm to the outside (left side) of the knee. Perform up to 50 reps, then repeat on the other side. To make the move harder wear 2- or 3-pound wrist weights.