Here's How to Work and Tone Your Waist
Unfortunately, we cannot pick and choose where we slim down, the waistline included. As they say, "abs are built in the kitchen," and the same holds true for losing weight around your waist. You can, however, tone and strengthen the area with these exercises that target the obliques to create a powerful core. And don't forget that firing your deep abs, the transverse abdominals (aka TVA), decreases the diameter of the waist. With all your ab work, and pretty much every other exercise too, focus on pulling your abs to your spine as you exhale to work your TVA while also working your obliques.
Seated Trunk Twist
- Sit on the ground with your legs extended out in front of you and lean ever so slightly forward.
- Keeping your elbows relaxed, lift your hands so they are even with the bottom of your rib cage.
- Pull your navel to your spine and twist slowly to the right, touching the floor by your hip. The movement is not large and comes from the ribs rotating. Inhale through center and rotate to the left. This completes one rep.
Seated Russian Twist
- Sit on the ground with your knees bent, pull your abs to your spine, and lean back a few inches while keeping your back straight.
- Hold your hand at your chest, and twist your torso to the right, then to the left to complete one rep.
- Continue twisting from side to side.
Seated Russian Twist With Weight
- Sit on the ground with your knees bent and your heels about a foot from your bum.
- Lean slightly back without rounding your spine at all. It is really important, and difficult, to keep your back straight, but don't let it curve.
- Hold the weight (dumbbell, kettlebell, med ball) at chest level.
- Pull your navel to your spine and twist slowly to the left. The movement is not large and comes from the ribs rotating, not from your arms swinging. Inhale through center and rotate to the right. This completes one rep.
To advance this execise, raise your feet off the floor.
- Come into a plank position (the top of a push-up) and roll to your right side allowing your feet to roll too, so you're balancing on the outside of your right foot, stagger your feet to make this move easier.
- Reach your left arm toward the ceiling and lift your waist away from the floor to make your obliques fire away. Press your right inner thigh up into your left inner thigh; this helps stabilize you even more.
- To take pressure off of your wrist, press your left fingertips into the floor.
- Hold for 30 seconds, working toward a full minute.
Side Elbow Plank
- Begin by lying on your side. Bring your right elbow directly under your right shoulder. Engage your core, press your right elbow into the floor, and rise into side elbow plank.
- Stagger your feet so your left foot is just in front your right or stack the heels. To advance this move, stack your feet.
- Reach your left arm up toward the ceiling, which will help you lift your waist.
- Hold for 30 to 60 seconds to complete one rep.
Side Elbow Plank With Pulse
- Start in a side elbow plank on your right side.
- Lower your hips slightly and then lift your pelvis up, feeling the right side of your body engage, especially your abs. This completes one rep.
- Come into a side plank on the right side. Flex both feet and lift your left arm straight in the air.
- Keeping your spine lengthened and your abs engaged, lift your left leg up as high as you can without letting your waist sink to the ground.
- Then slowly lower your right leg back to the starting position to complete the rep.
Side Plank With Leg Lift
- Place your right elbow on the ground. Extend both legs out so that your body is in one straight line and you're balancing on the outside edge of your right foot.
- Flex both feet if you can, and either rest your top hand on your upper hip or extend it in the air. Keeping your spine lengthened and your abs engaged, lift your left leg up just higher than your top hip. Then slowly lower it back to your bottom leg.
- Begin in a side elbow plank, with your left elbow down and your right hand behind your head.
- Keeping your torso stable and your waist lifted, bring your right leg up toward your shoulder to lightly tap your right elbow.
- Lengthen your right leg back to the starting position to complete one rep.
Side Plank With Weight
- Start in a side plank on your left side, holding a dumbbell in your right hand with your right arm parallel to the floor.
- Exhale and pull your abs toward your spine to stabilize your torso as your raise your right arm to the ceiling. Do not let your hand travel behind your shoulder. Lower the weight back to the starting position to complete one rep. Squeeze your inner thighs together for added stability.
- If you feel wobbly in this position, split your legs, bringing your right foot forward.
Elbow Plank With a Twist
- Start in side elbow plank on your right side with your feet stacked.
- Place your left arm behind your head and inhale to prepare.
- Exhale, engage the deep abs, and rotate your left rib cage toward the floor, bringing your left elbow to your right hand. Hold this a moment, twisting further to deepen your abdominal connection by pulling your navel in toward your spine.
- Return to the starting position to complete one rep.
Twisted Bird Dog
- Get on all fours, with your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Remember to keep abs engaged and keep your back flat.
- As you extend your right leg out straight, open up your left shoulder for an oblique and back twist.
- Round your back and head to connect your left elbow with your right leg under your body. Extend right hand and left leg back out for one complete rep.
Push-Up to Side Plank
- Begin in plank position; bend your elbows lowering into a push-up.
- Straighten your arms and lift your left arm toward the ceiling, twisting into a side plank to make a T shape with your body.
- Rotate back to plank, placing your left palm on the floor. This completes one rep.
- Perform another push-up, but this time as you straighten your arms, rotate to the left lifting the left up. Return to plank.
Push-Up and Rotate
- Begin in a plank position with your feet in line with your hips and your hands each holding a dumbbell.
- Lower your body toward the floor, then push through your arms, returning to plank.
- Twist to the left, reaching your left arm, dumbbell in hand, to the ceiling without letting your pelvis raise or lower.
- Return to plank position, bringing your hand back to the floor. Complete another push-up and twist to the right.
Spiderman Plank (aka Creepy Crawler)
- In plank, open your knee to the side and bring your knee to your elbow and alternate sides.
- To modify, just lift leg open to the side keeping your foot on the floor.
Twisted Mountain Climber
- Start in a traditional plank — shoulders over hands and weight on your toes.
- With your core engaged, twist to bring your right knee forward under to your left elbow. Return to your basic plank to complete a rep. Switch legs, bringing the left knee forward to the right knee for your second rep.
- Do 20 reps, alternating sides.
- In a plank position, jump your feet to the left, bringing your knees toward your left elbow.
- Jump your feet back to plank, and then jump your knees toward your right elbow.
- Lie on the floor with your knees pulled into your chest and your hands behind your head. Lift your shoulder blades off the ground and pull your abs toward your spine, pressing your low back into the mat.
- Straighten your left leg out while turning your upper body to the right, bringing your left elbow toward the right knee. Make sure your rib cage is moving and not just your elbows.
- Repeat this action on the side.
- Lie on your right side, with your left hand behind your head and right hand on the floor.
- Press down into your right hand as you raise your straight legs off the floor, bringing your torso toward your legs.
- Lower yourself back to the floor with control. This completes one rep.
- Begin lying on the floor with your legs straight and arms out wide to the sides, making a T with your body.
- In a slow and controlled motion, sit up, lifting your right leg and twisting to the right to bring your left hand to your right toes. Hold this position for a moment, pulling your abs toward your spine.
- Slowly roll down to return to the starting position to complete one rep. Repeat on the other side.
Dumbbell Crossover Punch
- Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground, about two feet from your butt. Hold weights, five- to eight-pound dumbbells, in both hands at your chest with your elbows on the floor.
- Keeping your hands at your chest, roll up to a sitting position. Twist your ribs to the left as you "punch" your right hand to the outside of the left knee.
- Bring the right hand back to your chest as you untwist, bringing your torso back to the center, and roll down to the ground.
- Repeat the sit-up, twisting to the right side to complete one rep.
- Fifteen reps complete a set.
- Standing with your hands behind your head with your elbows wide. Lift your right knee up as you twist to the right, pulling your abs toward your spine.
- Lower your right leg to complete one rep. Switch sides bringing your left knee up and twisting to the left.
- Exhale to engage the abs as you kick your right leg up, bringing your left hand to your right toes, doing a small crunch.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Stand on your left leg with your right leg behind and right toes resting on the floor. Bend both knees slightly and place your hands behind your head allowing your elbows to open wide.
- Pull your abs toward your spine and keep your back straight as you hinge forward from your hips until your torso is almost parallel to floor.
- With a flat back, press through your left heel and return to standing. As you do this, twist your torso (shoulders included!) to the left over your front left. Be sure to keep your pelvis and hips still and facing forward. This completes one rep.
Related: The 25 Best Bodyweight Exercises
Reverse Lunge With Twist
- Stand with your feet hip distance apart. Hold a five- to 10-pound medicine ball with both hands with your arms outstretched in front of you.
- Keep your core stable, and take a large step back with your right foot, planting your foot and then lowering your body until both legs are bent in right angles.
- As you sink into the lunge, twist your torso to the left.
- Bring your torso back to center, and exhale as you straighten your legs. Bring your feet back together, and then step back on your left leg, twisting to the right.
- This completes one rep. Do 10 reps for a set, and do at least two sets.
High to Low Wood Chop
- Holding an eight- to 10-pound dumbbell overhead, twist to the left, pivoting your right foot as needed.
- Exhale, and slice the dumbbell across your body to the right as you raise your right knee, bringing the weight to the outside of your right hip.
- Raise the weight back to starting position, and lightly tap your right toes to the floor. This completes one rep.
Standing Wood Chop With Med Ball
- Start with the feet a little wider than hip distance apart, keeping the knees slightly bent, and bring the medicine ball to your left shoulder.
- On an exhale, pull your abs to the spine, and "chop" the ball down diagonally across your body toward your right knee. Imagine you're chopping some wood at this angle and the ball is your axe — the move is a bit percussive.
- Focus on the rotation initiating in your torso.
- Control the ball back up to the starting position. This completes one rep.
- Remember you are moving with force but control. Don't give in to the momentum of swinging the ball around.
Standing Side Bend
- Stand with your feet a little wider than hip distance apart holding a five- to 10-pound dumbbell over your head. Squeeze your head with your upper arms to fire up your core and protect your neck.
- Bend sideways to the right, squeezing your waist on the right side. Keep your neck as neutral as possible, looking forward, not down.
- Pull the left ribs down to return to standing upright. This focuses the work on the left obliques. Switch sides, and bend to the left to complete one rep.
Standing Weighted Twist
- Stand with your knees slightly soft, holding a dumbbell at chest level.
- Keep your pelvis stable as you rotate your rib cage right and left, to complete one rep. Be sure to keep your abs pulled toward your spine as you twist from side to side.
Sumo Squat and Side Crunch
- Start in a wide stance with your toes pointed out; bring your hands behind your head with your elbows wide.
- Bend your knees over your toes, coming into a squat with your thighs almost parallel to the floor.
- As you straighten your knees to stand, lift your right knee while bending to the right to bring your right elbow and knee together, doing a side crunch.
- Straighten your spine as you bring your right foot to the floor, and bend both knees, coming into a sumo squat. This completes one rep.
Shoulder Press and Side Crunch
- Stand holding dumbbells at your shoulders. With your palms facing forward, press the weights overhead, straightening your arms.
- As you bend your elbows to lower the weights, lift your left knee up toward your left elbow. Squeeze your abs to exaggerate the side crunch.
- Lower your leg while raising the weights overhead, and repeat the side crunch on the right. This completes one rep.