15 exercises to slim your waist and tone your core
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While I love targeting the waist with core exercises that can tighten and tone the midsection, it’s important to know that it’s not possible to spot-reduce or slim down just one area of the body.
Slimming your waist isn’t just about toning the muscles in that area — it also requires losing fat. And just performing ab exercises isn’t enough when it comes to losing fat around the waist. However, by making healthy lifestyle choices like eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise, as well as reducing stress and getting good quality sleep, you can prevent weight gain and fat storage around the midsection.
When it comes to losing overall body fat, I always suggest walking. Walking is a low-impact exercise that can raise caloric expenditure and adding cardio to your weekly routine can help speed up your metabolism, which helps with overall fat loss. Start with just 5 minutes of walking around the block or in place in your living room!
When it comes to specific exercises that will help tone the midsection, it’s about increasing your caloric expenditure to slim the entire body — including the waist — plus strength training to tone the core and create that fit, hourglass figure.
Here are 16 exercises to add to your workout routine that will do just that:
Reverse lunge with knee drive
The reverse lunge with knee drive engages the core and lower-body muscles while increasing blood flow in the body. The intensity of the exercise results in a more significant caloric expenditure than reverse lunges alone. Start in a standing position and extend one leg back into a complete reverse lunge. Engage your core and maintain balance by driving your front foot down to the floor. Then, as you return to the starting position, drive your back knee up in front of you to waist height. Repeat for five repetitions on each leg.
Alternating toe reaches
The alternating toe touch hits every core muscle. Begin by lying down flat on your back. Keeping your legs straight, raise them to about a 45-degree angle from the floor. Let both arms fall flat in a T-position on the floor. Then, tightening your core, raise your left leg lifting your torso off the floor as you reach your right hand to touch your toe. Return to the starting position. Then, repeat on the other side. Repeat for 10 repetitions on each side.
Neutral grip dumbbell bent over rows
Bent over rows are a great back exercise that can help build that hourglass shape to mirror a slimmer waist. Begin with feet shoulder-width apart. Add a slight bend to your knees, pushing your hips back, hinge forward with a straight back to a 45-degree angle. With arms hanging by your sides, hold the dumbbells so that your palms face one another in a neutral grip. Drive your elbows back to your hips like you’re pulling a mower string with both hands. Remember, the goal is to drive the elbows back to the hips. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for 10 repetitions.
Working your hamstrings, quads and glutes in this exercise increases blood flow and, if done with intensity, can encourage a big calorie burn! Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place your arms at your sides, adding a bend at the elbow. Next, bend your left knee as if you are going to start jogging but aim to touch your butt with the heel of your foot. Repeat the movement on the other leg. This exercise is meant to be done quickly, so I encourage you to pick up the pace while performing butt kicks. Repeat for 60 seconds.
A plank can be efficient at engaging muscles all over the body. It’s important to make sure that you’re engaging your core muscles during this exercise so as not to place stress on the back. Start on your hands and knees and lower down onto your forearms. Rest the forearms on the ground underneath your shoulders. Pull your abs in and step the feet back. Tuck the toes under as you lift up onto your toes to bring your torso off of the ground. Engage your core, maintaining a straight back. Hold the position for 30 seconds. Rest, then repeat one more time.
Start in a seated position. Engage your core muscles and gently lean back a couple of inches. Lift your legs up in the air so that are in a table top position. Reach your arms straight out in front of you so that they are parallel with the ground. Keeping your core engaged, extend the legs straight up to a 45-degree angle into a “V” position. If this is too challenging, lightly hold onto the backs of the legs for support. Hold the “V” position with the inner thighs squeezing together for 10 seconds. Make sure to keep the shoulders relaxed and abs pulled in. You can reach the arms up overhead for a more advanced version of this exercise.
Mountain climbers are a great exercise to work your core muscles while also getting your heart rate up! Start in a full plank position on your hands. Ensure that your hands are directly beneath your shoulders. Next, engage your core, rounding your back as you drive your knee to your chest. Return to plank position. Then, repeat with the other knee. Repeat for 10 repetitions with each leg.
Knee to elbow
Place your hands behind your head and stand with your feet as wide as your hips. Crunch the left elbow down while you bring the left knee up to reach the knee toward the elbow. Repeat this 10 times and then switch to the other side.
Bear crawls are a full-body burner that work your entire core. Start on your hands and knees and tuck the toes under to lift the knees up. Ensure your hands are directly underneath your shoulders. At the same time, move the right hand and left foot forward a few inches. Your knees should never touch the ground, but should remain bent. Next, repeat the motion with the other side, moving your left hand forward with your right foot. Repeat for 10 repetitions on each side or for 60 seconds. (Depending on your space, you can either do this in place by moving back and forth one step, or cover more ground by moving forward for a few steps and then backward.)
Jumping jacks are a great form of in-place cardio you can do at home. Start in a standing position with feet hip-distance apart. Jump both feet out to the side, aiming to land wider than shoulder-width with hands touching overhead. Return to the starting position. Repeat for 10 repetitions or 60 seconds.
Another effective addition to a HIIT workout or as a finisher to a weight-training session, jump squats engage the core and lower body while torching calories. Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart. Drop down into a squat, press your feet into the floor and explosively jump up toward the sky. Land immediately into a squat to decrease the impact on the knees and hips. Repeat for 10 repetitions.
Bird dogs are an excellent exercise to work on core stabilization. This exercise is also a great way to increase awareness of the core muscles and help us engage them during other exercises and daily tasks. Begin in a tabletop position with hands and knees on the floor. Engage your core and minimize excess movement side to side as you extend your opposite arm and opposite leg out straight. Pause for a few seconds, maintaining your balance. Return to the starting position. Repeat for 10 repetitions on each side.
Plank jacks not only work your core muscles, but performing this exercise also increases blood flow and gets your heart rate up. Start in a full plank position. Engage your abs to protect your low back. Next, jump both feet out, like a jumping jack, remaining in a plank position. Then, jump the feet back in. Increase speed as you repeat the motion. Repeat for 10-20 repetitions.
Standing bicycle crunches
With your feet shoulder-width apart, bend your elbows and place your hands behind your head. Bend your right knee and twist at the waist, bringing your left elbow across the body to meet it. Then bend the left knee, crunching the right elbow across the body to meet it. Continue to alternate sides, squeezing your abdominals throughout. Repeat 10 times on each side.
Standing side reaches
Standing side reaches work the lower ab muscles and obliques. Stand straight with your feet together and your arms at your sides. Lift your right arm and place the right hand behind your head like you would for a crunch. Let you left arm reach down the left side of the body crunching the left obliques and feeling the stretch in your right waist. Engage the right obliques to pull tour body back up to center. Repeat 10 times before switching sides.