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FITNESS By Mike Mauney
Losing the 'Love Handles'

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A buff waistline can add points in competition. Here's the best way to tone up those stubborn obliques.

Standing Side Bends
Miss Teen America 2003 Alysha Castonguay demonstrates the correct technique for performing Standing Side Bends.

Standing Side bends exercise photos

1. From a standing position, drop your shoulder to the left side and bend to the left side.

2. Extend your left hand toward floor and reach your right hand up over your head toward left side for maximum stretch.

3. Return to an upright position and repeat.

Perform 15-20 reps per side, 3- 4 sets (one set equals 15-20 reps on both sides), 5-6 days a week.

After hips, thighs, and abs, the next most popular area of the body I am asked about is the sides of the waist, usually in the form of this question: "How do I get rid of these 'love handles?'" Ah, yes, those annoying areas of fat that cover your oblique muscles on the sides of your waist. You know what I am talking about — the body fat that hangs over the sides of the top of your shorts and swimsuit bottoms. I am not sure why they are called "love handles," but that is a different article for a different magazine. For now, our main concern is figuring out how to get rid of this extra fat and keep it from coming back. There are several things that you must do to solve this problem.

First: You must implement a good and complete aerobic program to burn body fat. The amount of body fat that you need to lose will determine how much aerobic training you will need to do. Perform some form of cardiovascular training five to six days a week, from 30 minutes to one hour, until your sides are tight and flat. Usually, speed walking or power walking on a treadmill, track field, or around your neighborhood will work for you. As always, it is important that you increase your heart rate up to around 70 percent of your maximum heart rate to burn off the body fat. Use the formula of 220 - your age = Y multiplied by .70 = Z (your target heart rate) to determine your target heart rate. Always remember to do a 10-minute warm-up before you attempt to hit your target heart rate and a 10-minute cool-down at the end of your exercise session.

Second: Ensure that you are eating healthy so that you are not replacing the body fat you are burning off with more body fat! Include carbohydrates in your breakfast and lunch meals but no carbs in the evening for dinner. You want to put the carbs into your system from breakfast and lunch, and have most of them burned out of your system by bedtime. Doing so will help prevent your body from having to convert excess carbs into body fat and storing it in areas of the body for later use.

The ideal target heart rate formula:

220 - Your Age =
Y x .7 =
Ideal Target Heart Rate
(in beats per minute, or BPM)

Here's an example for a 20-year-old: 220 - 20 = 200 x .70 = 140 BPM. To quickly calculate your actual heart rate during your workout, take your pulse count for 15 seconds, and then multiply that number by four. Compare that number to your target rate to check whether you are reaching your Ideal Target Heart Rate. As in our example, if the 15-second count is 36; then 36 x 4 = 144 BPM, which is within range of the Ideal Target Heart Rate, 140 bpm for this person.

Third: Exercise your oblique muscles to tighten up the sides of your waist. Many different exercises allow you to work this problem area. You can sit upright on a stool with a broom handle across your back at the shoulders and twist your waist from side to side. You can also complete crunches for your abs and twist to one side, then the next. One of the best exercises for this area is one called Side Bends — a great exercise to perform five to six days a week. Remember: Your obliques are muscles, and you want to ensure that you do not increase their size — you only want to tighten them. Use very light weight or no weight at all when performing this exercise.

Always remember that, no matter how trim your obliques become, it is very important that the waistband around the top of the swimsuit or shorts fits correctly. If the waistband is too tight, it will cause the skin to hang over and create the illusion of excess body fat. If it's time to compete in swimsuit and your sides are not as tight as they need to be, purchase a swimsuit that has a small amount of material above the waistband. This small amount of material will lie on top of the body fat that is pushed out by the waistband (this only works if you do not have much body fat to cover), making your waist appear to be smooth along the top of your swimsuit bottoms and preventing the judges from seeing the excess skin pouching out. Of course, if you had given yourself plenty of time to prepare for the swimsuit competition, you would not have needed to use this little trick.

As I always remind my readers, eat healthy, exercise safely and correctly, and keep up with your aerobic training.


Mike Mauney, owner of Body Design By Mike fitness center in North Carolina, is a Personal Fitness Trainer certified by the National Federation of Professional Trainers. Mike specializes in Personal Fitness Training for women of all ages. For 12 years he has been training dancers, models, cheerleaders, pageant and swimsuit contestants of all ages and competition levels (local, state, national, and international). His daughter Michelle Mauney was Miss North Carolina USA 1995. Some of Mike's training credits includes the following: Carrie Stroup, Miss World representative 2001, Janice Ward, Mrs. United States 1999, Vanessa Minnillo, swimsuit winner and Miss Teen USA 1998, and Michelle Warren, 1st runner-up Miss America Pageant 1998.

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