Exercises for muffin top are a really popular topic right now. After all, the holidays are over and the weather is getting warmer, so it's definitely time to turn your attention to that tiny bubble of fat bulging just above the waistline of your favorite jeans — muffin top! It's not out of control yet, but it will be if you don't start doing the Best Exercises for Muffin Top... and it's time to get going! Hop off the couch, put down the cookie, and get moving! Here are the 9 best exercises for muffin top.
1. Back Fly
This exercise for muffin top requires a special stand, one that allows you to bend forward at the waist while keeping your back legs straight. Bend completely at the waist, then slowly “fly” back up so your back is straight. Don't over-extend, arching your back! Repeat 12 times, three sets. Doing this exercise regularly will get your abs in incredible shape, while at the same time eliminating any love handles.
2. Twist Crunches
Crunches are standard exercise, but that's because they work, especially when it comes to strengthening your abdominal muscles and your core. Lie flat on your back, hands behind your head, knees bent. “Crunch” yourself up, twisting slightly so your left elbow touches your right knee, then lower yourself back to the ground. Crunch again, this time with your right elbow touching your left knee. Repeat so you do 24 crunches, 3 times.
3. Balance-ball Crunches
Balance balls are becoming much more popular, primarily because they can make a lot of exercises -- like crunches -- even more successful. To do this crunch, lie with a balance ball in the small of your back, with your feet apart, placed firmly on the ground. Do three sets of 12 crunches, and you'll feel your core struggling to keep you on balance. Fantastic!
4. Incline Crunches
As you can see, there are several different kinds of crunches, all of which make great muffin top exercises. This type of crunch is less intensive but it still gives you a great workout. Sit on an incline crunch bench, with your toes at the “top.” Lie flat on your back, then slowly “crunch” up til you're about half-way sitting. Slowly lower yourself back down. Don't cheat and use your neck muscles, either! Do three sets of 12.
5. Reverse Crunches
Remember that incline bench from item #4? You're going to use it again for this, one of the VERY best muffin top exercises. Sit on the bench, feet up, then slowly lower yourself back, but only half-way... then sit all the way up again. It's a lot harder than it sounds. Do three sets of 12. If you do this exercise several times every week, you'll start seeing a huge difference in no time.
We make two mistakes with the rowing machine: one, we don't consider it one of the best exercises for muffin top, and two, we let our BACKS do the work, rather than our arms and core. Sit with your back straight during the ENTIRE rowing motion, or you'll kill the effect, and you may even hurt your back.
The elliptical machine truly provides a whole-body workout, including one to combat muffin top. Do 30 good, heart-thumping minutes on the elliptical, and include a 5 minute warm up and an 8 minute cool down. Workout complete, muffin top banished! If you have trouble with longer workouts, especially when you're first starting to exercise, just distract yourself. Listen to music, even watch TV, anything to make that half hour pass faster.
8. Twist Toe-touches
Toe-touches are pretty standard as well, and they're not at all intensive, which means it's much easier to do more. Start out with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees straight, hands on your hips. Twist and touch your right fingers to your left toes, then straighten, and touch your left fingers to your right toes. Complete three sets of 24 (12 each twist). Whew!
9. Leg Raises
You'd be surprised how beneficial leg lifts are when you're trying to banish that muffin top. You'll also be surprised at how many you can do! Lie flat on your back with your arms at your sides. Lift both legs off the ground, keeping them straight, about 6 inches off the ground. Hold for 30 seconds (or as close to 30 seconds as you can!), then slowly lower them. Are your abs burning yet?
10. Target Your Abs
This isn't so much an exercise as a suggestion. One of the biggest mistakes people make when doing exercises for muffin top elimination is forgetting to target everything. You have to make sure to work all the muscles in your mid-section, to pay attention to your stomach, your back, your chest, even your bum. So, as you can see, it's crucial to target your abs in the appropriate ways, but that's not the only thing you have to pay attention to...
11. Work Your Core
You also have to exercise the right way, so you can make sure you get your core in good shape. After all, if you aren't working your core, then none of the other techniques are going to work for you. Don't worry, the exercises you see here will help you strengthen your core and tighten your abs! In fact, when you have a workout plan geared toward getting rid of any love handles, you're actually taking care of your entire body.
12. Cardio is Key
Cardio is essential to getting rid of a muffin top. As you'll see, there are tons of exercises here that are cardio intensive, and they should be a serious focus. When you're doing serious cardio, you're not only working off a muffin top and strengthening your core, you're also doing great things for your body in general, and ensuring that you stay healthy, which is always the most important thing.
13. Yoga Stretches
Yoga is good for several reasons. It aids in flexibility, it works your core muscles, and it allows you to do cardio-centric exercises without really taxing yourself. All those stretches work the core muscles you need to target in order to give yourself a trim, toned tummy. Yoga is also good for beginning stretches or a cool down after an intensive work out.
14. Mountain Climbers
Mountain climbers are fantastic muffin top exercises, and although they're simple, they're very intense. You start out in the same position used for a standard push-up, so you're basically on your hands and your toes. Once there, pull your right knee in toward your chest, with your foot still resting on the floor. Then you want to jump up and, while you're in the air, switch your feet, so that when you resume the position, your left knee is against your chest and your right leg is switched out behind you. Repeat this as quickly but as safely as you can for about a minute.
For this, you can do either the standard or modified push-up. I know they can be difficult, so if you need to start out on your hands and knees, don't worry about it. Work up the strength of your arms, and then move on to the standard version. Once you've started doing push-ups regularly, you'll be amazed at how many you can do. Soon you won't even have to think about doing a modified push-up!
16. Chair Push-Ups
You can also try this version! It seems easy but you still get a great core workout and your arms will be ripped. You need to place your hands on a very stable, immobile chair or bench, and stretch your body out behind you. From there, you just lift and lower your body as you would in a regular push-up. The great part about this version is that you can do a lot more repetitions -- which, again, will really benefit both your arms and your abs. What could be better?
17. Donkey Kicks
Donkey kicks are ideal for getting rid of a muffin top, and they'll make your legs look awesome as well. Get down on all fours, making sure that your stomach is pulled in and your back is straight. Kick back your left leg and stretch it behind you, as straight as you can; hold that pose for about 5 seconds, then alternate with your left leg. Repeat this exercise 10 times for each side.
18. Jumping Rope
Jumping rope is fun! It can also help you eliminate your muffin top. It's simple, but super effective. Because it's a pastime for so many of us, it won't even feel like exercise. This is one of those exercises that you can basically do for as long as you're able. Maybe because I had so much fun with it as a kid, I also recommend seeing if you can find a Skip-It. Yeah, it's a toy, but if you get a rhythm going, you can also use it to skip or jump while you're walking around the park or the track, so you can do two exercises at once.
19. Windmill Toe-Touches
This is also known as an alternate toe touch, but either way it will help you get rid of your muffin top. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and stretch your arms straight out to either side. Begin by bending and turning at the waist, so that you can touch your right foot with your left hand. Straighten up, then do the same thing with your right hand and left foot. Try 10 reps for each side to start with.
Dances are fun, fantastic exercises for muffin top removal; you won't even know you're exercising! Honestly, any dance will do, so you can take a dance based exercise class, do jazzercise or something similar in your living room, or even play dance based video games when you don't feel up to anything else. You'll do even better if you work out with a dance that focuses on your hips and stomach. Learn to tango or take up belly dancing, for example. In addition to working off your muffin top, you'll also be learning something new!
Swimming is similarly helpful, especially since it works all your muscles. It's a lot of fun and it's extremely versatile, which is always an awesome trait in any exercise. The best part is that swimming is also non-intensive, so you can exercise a lot more without tiring yourself out too much. You can swim recreationally, do purposeful laps, or you can...
22. Water Aerobics
Do Water Aerobics! They Are a Little More Intensive but Not Much, Because The Water Is So Gentle in Terms of Resistance. Still, You'll Really Be Able to Engage in Some Great Cardio, You'll Just Be Able to Do More, Again, without Getting Too Tired Or Worn Out. Check Out Some Classes at The Local YMCA Or Your Gym. If You Have a Pool Or Know Someone Who Has One, You Can Even Do Water Aerobics on Your Own
23. Standard Aerobics
By the same token, standard aerobics also get your heart rate up. This is a fun way to get in your cardio, and all those twists and stretches work to get rid of your muffin top as well. Look for a class that involves music and dancing for double the workout. Besides, when you have fun, you don't feel like you're exercising, so you can go on longer!
Squats are great for several reasons. In addition to helping you work off any love handles, they'll also tone your butt. I mean for real, you'll end up with a taut little bubble butt. You'll get "buns of steel" all on your own. Squats are simple to do and they keep your thighs in good shape as well, so you really can't go wrong. You can take five minutes each day to do them easily, even if you're at work.
25. Forward Lunges
A forward lunge is basically a standard lunge. You start out standing and then step forward into the typical lunge formation. You can step out using your right foot or your left foot but either way, keep the opposite glute contracted. Just step forward into the next lunge without losing your position, and start out with about 10 reps for each leg.
26. Lateral Lunges
A lateral lunge takes place in the opposite direction. Start out stepping to the right, naturally using your right foot, while your feet stay flat and your toes remain pointed forward. Keep your left leg as straight as possible and squat using your right hip. Make sure you squat down as low as you can and hold the pose for 2 seconds, then do this for your left side. Again, 10 reps for each leg is a great starting point!
27. Reverse Lunges
The reverse lunge will help you get rid of your love handles, too! Stand up straight and keep your feet together. Step backward, exercising complete control, with your left foot and bend your right knee. Make sure you step back far enough. Then, get down as low as you can and hold that position for 2-5 seconds before switching legs.
Planking? Helpful with muffin tops! You betcha! It may look like a silly meme, but planking is actually really intense – and, as you'll see, there are several variations. To get your standard plank on, lie down on your stomach and keep your legs straight, then gradually lift up with the help of your toes and your hands. At this point, it looks kind of like you're doing a push up. If you can't hold yourself on your arms, you can brace with your forearms instead. Just make sure that your stomach is pulled in and your back is as straight as possible. You need to hold the position for at least 10 seconds, but if you can go longer, have at it!
29. Side Planking
Planking is awesome because it works your abs and your core – especially side planking. This is a little more difficult, but with practice you'll be an expert! Side planking involves lying down on the ground, on your right side. Keep that hand on the floor – or use your elbow if you need the extra brace. Keeping your side as straight as possible, lift up so that your body creates a plank-like shape. Keep your other arm against your side. Again, hold this pose for at least 10 seconds, then trying your other side.
30. Ball Planking
Yep, if you have a stability ball, you can also plank. This is one of the best planking exercises for muffin top if you're a beginner. It's basically exactly like traditional planking, except that your upper half is supported by your exercise ball. Thanks to the extra stability, however, you should be able to hold the planking pose for as long as a minute.
31. Jumping Jacks
Simple jumping jacks can get rid of that dreaded bulge, too. You naturally bounce around when you do jumping jacks, and while that might feel really silly, I promise you that it's helpful. Start out with just 10 or 20, but if you do them every day, make it a game; see how many you can do at a stretch before you get fired or winded. You can intersperse them with lunges and toe-touches to get more of a workout at once.
32. Seated Russian Twist
This exercise is great for your abs, and will in turn help you work off any muffin topping. It requires an exercise ball, a weight, or a dumbbell.You start out by sitting on the floor, keeping your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Lean back to the point where your abs feel tight and stabilized. Hold your ball or your weight, twist it to your right, trying to make sure it touches the ground. You have to rotate your torso, don't just reach over. Hold that position for several seconds, then twist to the other side.
33. Resistance Training
Whenever you want to get a good workout, you have to use resistance training. It's so important to make sure you're fighting against something. Otherwise your muscles aren't really getting a good workout, and you aren't burning away any fat. You can create your own workout plan by keeping resistance training in mind. It's a good idea to start out slow and then work up to more resistance, followed by a steady slow-down. This kind of workout tends to provide its own built-in cool down as well, and you can tailor it to your strengths and needs.
Walking is simple but essential. It isn't intensive as far as cardio goes, but the movement is incredibly helpful and, besides that, walking is a starting point. If you're just starting to exercise away your muffin top, walking is a great way to get started. As you'll see, you'll soon be able to work your way up to more intensive rhythms, but start building your stamina with progressively longer walks.
35. Power Walking
Once you're good with walking for long distances, start power walking! This is, of course, a little faster, with more arm movement, and you can throw in a twisting motion as well. It's not quite walking and not quite running, so it's a great medium as you work your way up to something more intense. All you need to do is make sure that your rhythm causes your heart rate to increase. That's essential when it comes to burning calories, losing weight, and losing a muffin top in particular.
After power walking gets easy, you're ready for jogging! Jogging works many of your muscles, and it will also help you eliminate those love handles. The longer you can jog, the better – that's why it's good to increase your stamina by beginning with walking and power walking. Again, the key to jogging successfully involves making sure that you really get your heart pumping, even if you can't jog for long distances or periods of time at first.
37. Perfect Posture
Granted, this isn't exactly an exercise. However, making sure you have good posture is a key to battling your muffin top. Slouching makes it look worse, plus when your back is straight and proud, it actually works your abs. And yes, you can practice with a book on your head if you need to! You can also practice good posture while you're sitting in your office chair at work. In fact, if you keep yourself from slouching at the office, it can even help your productivity.
Like yoga, pilates helps increase your flexibility. You work your muscles, which is tremendously helpful when you're trying to get rid of a muffin top. It's also incredibly calming, which is also similar to yoga. There are many variations you can put together, so you can tailor your exercise plan to your particular needs and abilities. You may think it's not intensive, but wait until your first workout!
Whether you ride a stationary cycle or an actual bicycle, cycling is so good for you! It works your legs and your butt, while also toning your abs and burning away any extra cushion around your waist and stomach. It's a fun exercise as well, especially if you listen to music while you're cycling. You can cycle for pleasure around the neighborhood or use your bike instead of driving or using public transportation when it's possible. When you can't get outside on a bike, then a stationary cycle is perfect.
Deadlifts are great exercises for muffin tip elimination, in addition to strengthening your core. You'll need two free weights or weighted barbells, placed on the floor in front of either foot. Stand at your full height with your feet placed shoulder width apart. Keep your back, arms, and legs streight as you bend down and grasp your weights. Moving slowly, pick up the weights as you return to your straight, standing position, and hold the pose for a three count before lowering your weights again. Then, repeat about five times.
41. The Woodchop
The Woodchop is a little complicated, but if you want to work your abs, then it's essential. You can do it using either a cable or a medicine ball. For a complete example on how to do this exercise, just check out this handy tutorial at Ace Fitness.
Inchworms are a different kind of push up, except you go in the opposite direction. You start out in the standard push-up position, and do a single push-up. Then you lift your hips as high as you can, so that your butt is in the air but your hands and feet are on the ground. Moving slowly, inch your feet toward your hands, but make sure you keep your knees straight. Then you slowly inch your hands away from your feet, so you're back in the starting position, at which point you lower yourself back into the push-up pose. When you begin, 10 reps are perfect.
43. Chin Ups
Chin ups are hard, but they're worth it. It's the twisting motion you generally have to use to hoist yourself up that makes them essential for getting rid of any muffin topping situations. In addition, you're building up serious strength in your arms, which will help you with many of the other exercises listed here. Now, I know chin ups can be really difficult, so you can modify them at first, and work your way up to the traditional technique.
44. Standing Cable Presses
Standing cable presses require pulleys or cables and, ideally, the proper exercise machine. If you don't have those yourself, you can usually find them at the gym. Again, this exercise is a little complicated, so to make sure you know what to do, check out My Personal Home Trainer!
45. Take It to the Tradmill
When the weather's raunchy or you just don't feel like getting out and walking, power walking, or running around the park or the track, you can always work out on the treadmill. It's an easy way to get your workout in no matter what, and you can work your way up from slower speeds. Remember, any exercise is better than none! However, once more, when you're on the treadmill, make sure that you're working hard enough to get your heart rate up for maximum potential. Like with the Elliptical, try to stay on at various speeds for at least half an hour.
46. Kick Boxing
Kick boxing is awesome for a variety of reasons. You get your heart going, so there's your cardio. The best part is that you're working your entire body. It's fun, intense, and extremely helpful in working off a muffin top. Plus you'll look ripped in the bargain! Ask around about possible kick boxing classes, or see if your gym or YMCA offers any classes. Take a friend with you while you're at it -- the two of you can learn together!
Karate is helpful for similar reasons, but thanks to the mindset, it's sometimes more serene. You can get into an almost meditative state even while you're exercising. The best part is that you'll look kick ass even as you're learning to kick ass! In most towns and cities, you'll be able to find at least a few places that offer karate lessons, so that won't be a problem. Again, take a friend along for the ride! Failing that, you can even get a DVD that instructs you in the basics.
48. Interval Training
Interval training is more of a technique than an exercise, but it's still great for working off your muffin top. Basically, you just want to incorporate several high intensity exercises during your routine and intersperse them with cool down periods. It's a great way to burn lots of calories without overtaxing yourself. You get your heart rate going, but thanks to the periods for cooling down, you won't get too worn out to continue your workout.
If you like a really intense workout, this is definitely the one! Spinning is super intense. It's a killer when you first get started, but in no time at all, you'll be such an expert that you'll wonder why you didn't start doing it sooner. It's kind of like cycling, of course, but you work at a much faster pace. It's better to start out slow so you don't get overwhelmed, but if you do it regularly then, over time, you can spin for longer and longer periods of time.
Last but not certainly not least, one of the most fun exercises for muffin top elimination is rollerblading! It's tons of fun, but the motions of your legs and hips will battle those dreaded love handles. Again, this one doesn't really feel like an exercise, so you'll be able to do it for longer and longer periods. Take your iPod or MP3 player with you or rollerblade with friends to make it even more fun.
Print this list and keep it with you, because all of these will help you get rid of that little bulge! Which of these best exercises for muffin top have you tried? Did you do it alone, or all together? How did they work at getting rid of muffin top? Do tell!