We’d all like to get rid of the muffin top, but with so many exercises to choose from, it can be tough to know the quickest and most effective route. And who wants to spend hours exercising to then find out nothing has changed?
When getting rid of the muffin top, it’s tempting to go for fat spot reduction by doing endless crunches or oblique twists, but experts have proven over and over again that this does not work.
To really tone your core and banish that muffin top, you have to work more than just the offending area, including the surrounding auxiliary muscles.
It is also important to burn more calories than you consume and for that incorporating cardio — especially high intensity interval training — is key.
The following five moves will set you well on your way to getting rid of the muffin top — including extra belly, love handles and back fat.
Top exercises to get rid of the muffin top
Planks, Planks, Planks
One of the best full-body exercises, which will also whittle your waist, is the plank.
A basic plank means balancing yourself on toes and forearms: keep your elbows shoulder-width apart and be sure to maintain a level body. Don’t let your butt or abs droop toward the floor, and don’t pike to make the exercise easier!
You get the best benefit from this move by tensing your abdominal, glute, and back muscles to keep yourself straight and supported.
Try to hold the plank for at least a minute.
To give yourself an extra challenge and really get rid of that muffin top, pick up one foot and tuck that knee toward your chest. Repeat several times with each leg.
Once you’ve done that, flip to your side and prop yourself up on a forearm, stacking your legs so that you’re balanced on the side of your foot. Lift your hips so that your body forms a straight line, and hold that position for at least a minute. When you’re done, switch sides.
Unilateral Dumbbell Dead-Lift
The key to zapping extra belly fat is to use your muscles together, challenging your body to rely on auxiliary as well as major muscles, according to certified strength and conditioning coach Marta Montenegro.
Montenegro relies on the unilateral dumbbell dead-lift for this.
To do this move, start with a dumbbell in your right hand, by your side, and your feet together. Engage your core muscles and tilt forward, lifting your right leg so that you make a straight plane between shoulder and ankle.
You can also hold the dumbbell with both hands or replace the dumbbell with a kettlebell or medicine ball.
As you bend forward, lower the dumbbell to the ground. Hold that position, balancing on one foot and looking forward. After a second, slowly return to the starting position.
Repeat six to 12 times on one side and then switch to the other side.
Another good move to get rid of the muffin top is the glute bridge.
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor, letting your hands stay by your sides.
Engage your abs and glutes and slowly lift your hips until your body forms a straight line from knees to shoulders. Your shoulder blades should stay on the ground.
Hold that position for five seconds and then lower your body to the ground — be sure to control the movement.
Repeat eight to ten times, rest, and then do another set.
If you’ve ever seen an ab wheel (sometimes called an arm wheel) at the gym and wondered what it was for, this is the move for you to get rid of the muffing top.
There are a couple variations to this one, but they all do a good job of engaging your whole core: the arm rollout hits upper and lower abdominals as well as challenging your obliques.
If you have an ab wheel, start on your knees, with your hands on the wheel’s grips. Keeping your core engaged and your body straight from knee through shoulder, slowly roll forward until you can’t go any further. Then roll back into the starting position, being sure not to collapse.
If you don’t have a wheel, you can still get rid of a muffin top with a variation on this exercise. You can either substitute a stability ball for the ab wheel, putting your elbows on the ball and rolling forward, or you can use a towel. Putting the towel under your hands, slide it along the floor to mimic how you’d use an ab wheel.
Obliques help to define your waistline, and this move will target those as well as engaging your lower abdominal muscles.
Lie on the ground and raise your legs about six inches, keeping your quads, glutes, and abs tensed. Being sure to keep your legs straight, scissor kick by moving one leg up while the other moves down. Control the motion, and don’t let your legs hit the ground.
Be careful with this one: if you arch your back, the move won’t help to get rid of the muffin top, and it can potentially hurt you. Pull your navel toward the ground to avoid this.