I’m finally coming out of deep winter hibernation mode (aka living in sweatpants for six months) and it seems my summer clothes are a little tighter around the waist. Are there any moves that can help shed that “muffin top?” —Joanna T.
I really, really dislike the term “muffin top.”
Firstly, I love muffins, and their tops. They’re delightful! Second, there’s this shame that goes along with having a little extra fluff around the midsection. Man, I hate that. Sometimes our weight fluctuates a little, and that’s OK. As long as you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet and you feel good physically, I say don’t sweat it too much.
But here’s the thing: I do think you should strengthen your obliques, low-back, and glutes—all the muscles that can be found under the “muffin top” area. Working these bad boys will help alleviate back pain, improve your posture, give you a stronger core so you can lift stuff without hurting yourself—and yes—define your waistline. The melting of the muffin top? That’s just a happy side effect of getting a stronger, healthier bod.
This is my favorite workout to strengthen (and slim) hips. Do it twice a week in addition to two days of cardio and you’ll notice a serious change in your body after four weeks. Watch the video for all of my tricks for nailing these exercises.
Side lying plank with a leg lift
Do: 20 reps per side
Lay propped up on one side, bent at the knees, feet pointing back behind you. Imagine that your shoulders, hips, and knees are all in one straight line as you pull your navel in towards your spine to contract your core. Lift the top leg up about 12 inches (with toes pointing straight ahead of you) as you lift your hips up off the mat. Slowly lower everything back down to your starting position.
Do: 15 reps
Get into a forearm plank position, with your body in a completely straight line. Press into your elbows as your twist at the waistline to tap your hip to the ground. Bring hips back to the center, and then repeat the movement on the other side. Keep your core engaged as you do this, and try not to twist from your lower back.
Side lying toe taps
Do: 40 reps per side
Starting laying on your side with your thighs bent at a 90-degree angle from your hips. (Check the video to make sure you’re in the right position—if you’re not, this isn’t as effective!) Extend your top leg out directly in front of you, flexing through your heel. Lift your leg up and over so it’s directly below you, as if you were standing on it. Reverse the movement, making an upside down “U” with your leg to bring it back to the starting position.
Weighted side bend
Do: 20 reps per side
You’ll need a set of 3- or 5-lb dumbbells for this one. Kneeling on your yoga mat, reach your weights up above your head. Reach with one weight directly down to the side until you touch the mat, keeping your core muscles contracted. Then slowly lift the weight back above you. As you do this, try to keep your body as upright as possible, so the movement only happens from side to side, not front to back.
Side lunge with a leg lift
Do: 15 reps per side
Almost done—happy dance!—and the last move is a fun one. Start with your feet together on the mat. Lunge directly to your side with the right leg, bending the right knee as you land and keeping the left leg straight. Keep your toes pointing straight ahead. Hold for a beat, then push off your right foot and lift the right leg to balance on your left. Reach your hands above your head and try to get your entire body parallel to the ground to feel this even more in your obliques and waistline muscles.
Press play to see the full workout, and let us know in the comments below how it works for you!