While you cannot spot reduce, lateral waist exercises add tone to your love handles. Otherwise known as your obliques, the sides of your abdomen contract when you laterally bend and reduce the space between your ribs and your hips. When you laterally bend, you also strengthen the quadratus lumborum, a muscle located deep in your lower back. As with all abdominal exercises, use slow, controlled movements to avoid momentum taking over the activity.
Standing Lateral Flexion
Stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms at your sides. Face your palms toward your legs.
Inhale and bend to the right as you lower the dumbbell and feel the stretch along your left side.
Exhale and return to an upright position.
Repeat the side bend to your left. Complete eight to 12 bends on each side.
Side-Lying Lateral Flexion
Place the rolled up towel on the floor. Lie on your right side with the towel underneath your waist.
Straighten your legs so your body is in a line. Cross your left foot over your right and rest the inside of your left foot on the floor.
Bend your elbows and place your hands behind your head. Tighten your stomach and pull your navel toward your spine.
Exhale and shorten the distance between your ribs and hip on your left side by lifting your torso. Keep your hips stacked upon each other and lift your torso to a comfortable height.
Inhale and lower to the starting position. Complete eight to 12 lateral flexions on each side.
Stability Ball Flexion
Place a stability ball on the floor. Kneel with the ball near your right hip. Drape the right side of your body over the top of the ball.
Straighten your legs to the side. Cross your left foot over your right foot and rest your left foot on the floor.
Place your hands behind your head with your elbows out to the sides. Or, leave your right hand on the ball for added stability.
Exhale and raise your right side off the ball to a comfortable height. Concentrate on shortening the distance between your ribs and hip on your left side.
Inhale and slowly return your side to the ball. Complete eight to 12 stability ball lateral flexions on each side.
- Use abdominal exercises three days a week to strengthen and tone your core. Try to complete one to three sets of a flexion exercise.
- Speak with your doctor regarding the safety of lateral training for you. Use caution if you experience any back discomfort.
A mother of two and passionate fitness presenter, Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She is the author of six fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College. When not writing, Wolfe is hula-hooping, kayaking, walking or cycling.