Want to get rid of your love handles? One of the secrets is strong obliques and a strong core, which lead to better posture and a tighter midsection.
Whether you're standing, sitting or bending, strong obliques are a must. The abdominal muscle group consists of the internal and external oblique, transverse abdominis and rectus abdominis muscles. Together they enable you to bend and rotate at the waist and lean from side to side. They also stabilize your spine, which nurtures great posture. The obliques, which attach to the ribs and the hips and run along the sides of your torso, are basically the body's girdle, supporting and protecting your back as you put your body through the paces of day-to-day life.
Repetitive activities, such as reaching, bending, twisting, lifting, throwing and pulling, require harmonious effort from the abdominals. When weakened by pregnancy, prolonged sitting and inactivity, the obliques can't provide the strength, support and stability necessary to prevent lower back pain and injury.
The most effective way to strengthen the abdominal muscles -- the obliques in particular -- and maintain spinal stability is with the abdominal cycle. The growing popularity of Pilates training, which emphasizes core strength, stamina and flexibility, has revived this well-known move and encouraged trainers to teach it properly. Pilates teaches mind-body awareness and proper alignment of muscles and joints, all of which are important to get the most out of this exercise -- without injury. Follow this abdominal cycle up to five times a week to improve posture and help get rid of love handles.
1. Lie on your back, bend your knees and lift both feet off the floor. Start with your knees directly over your hips and your hands behind your head. Keep your chin in, neck relaxed and forearms resting on the floor. Begin by pulling your navel in toward your spine as you exhale. You should feel a “hollowing” of your abdominals inward. Keep your torso still. Inhale, relax and repeat this step, if necessary, until you feel your abdominals tighten.
2. Exhale as you pull your abdominals even further in. Curl up, lifting your shoulders off the floor and drawing your ribs toward your hips. As you curl up, lift your right shoulder diagonally across your body toward your left hip, while at the same time straightening your right leg. Pause. Inhale.
3. Exhale as you pull the right knee back in and lower your right shoulder to the floor. Repeat on the opposite side. For a greater challenge, don't relax and lower your shoulders all the way to the floor between repetitions.
Repetitions and sets
Do 10 repetitions per side. Do two to three sets, taking a short break between them. Allow your breathing to set the pace so that you exhale as you lift and push. You can train your abdominals up to five times per week.
Page 1 of 1