11 Effective Exercises To Reduce Side Fat

Achieve the enviable waist of your dreams and work on your flexibility with ease.

Reviewed by Rakesh Rathod, Certified Personal Trainer Rakesh Rathod Rakesh RathodCertified Personal Trainer facebook_icontwitter_iconlinkedin_iconyoutube_iconinsta_icon
Written by , BA Shirin Mehdi BA Experience: 3 years
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Side fat is the excess flab along the sides of your waist. It is commonly known as a muffin top, and you might get rid of it by doing exercises for side fat. These exercises are simple and easy, and exercising 20–30 minutes every alternate day may help reduce side fat and build a slimmer waist.

According to a 2017-2018 NHANES survey, about 30.7% of US adults are overweight. This is higher in men ( 34.1%) than in women (27.5%). More than 42.4% of the population have obesity amongst which 9.2% of the population have severe obesity. As for children and adolescents, 16.1% are overweight, 19.3% have obesity and 6.1% have severe obesity.

Wondering how to get rid of side fat? Here are the best exercises for side fat you can try out. Take a look.

Exercises To Reduce Side Fat – Top 11

1. Starfish

Starfish exercise to reduce side fat
Image: Shutterstock

Starfish is a variation of Side Plank exercise, which is a killer move for reducing side fat.

How To Do:

  1. Get in the side plank position and get hold of your balance.
  2. Once you are properly balanced, stack one foot on top of the other and raise your arm into the air.
  3. Now, lift the leg on top and straighten it. At the same time, try to touch your toe with your hand and then return to the starting position.
  4. Do 15 reps and repeat on the other side.

2. Side Plank Circles

Side plank circle exercise to reduce side fat
Image: Shutterstock

Side Plank Circles targets your oblique muscles, muffin tops, love handles, lower belly pooch, and tones your bum.

How To Do:

  1. Get into a side plank position and lower the knee closer to the floor. Lift your upper leg until it is horizontal and straight.
  2. Now start tracing big circles with that leg.
  3. Trace 20 circles clockwise and 20 anticlockwise and then repeat on the other side.

3. Oblique Crunch

Oblique crunch exercise to reduce side fat
Image: Shutterstock

Oblique Crunch or bicycle crunch targets the oblique muscles and helps in reducing all the side fat. It is a good torso exercise that targets not just the lower fat but upper fat as well.

How To Do:

  1. Lie down on your back and lift your legs with bent knees until your calves become horizontal.
  2. Put your left hand behind your head and straighten your right arm to your side.
  3. Now press your right forearm onto the ground, lift the left side of your torso and try to touch your left elbow to your left knee.
  4. Turn your left knee towards your left elbow as you lift your left torso.
  5. Do 10 reps and repeat on the other side.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Do not pull your neck forward as you crunch up as it will strain your neck and cause aches.

4. Piked Elbow Twists

Piked elbow twist exercise to reduce side fat
Image: Shutterstock

Piked Elbow Twist is an effective exercise to lose side fat by targeting your obliques. The move was introduced by Pop Pilates instructor Cassey Ho to fight love handles.

How To Do:

  1. Lie down on the floor with your legs straight and arms extended.
  2. Now lift your straight legs and arms in a sit-up position until your torso is off the floor and you are balancing on your butt.
  3. If straight legs are very difficult for you, you can bend your knees until your calves are horizontal. Maintain that position.
  4. Now twist your torso to your right side, bend your right arms and touch the right elbow to the floor.
  5. Twist to your left and touch your left elbow to the floor.
  6. Keep alternating and do 20 reps.

5. Triangle With Dumbbell

Triangle With Dumbbell
Image: iStock

The Triangle pose is a great stretching and abdominal exercise for your sides and hamstrings. But when you add dumbbells to the move, it becomes very effective for toning your obliques.

How To Do:

  1. Stand with your feet wide apart. Point your left foot leftward and your right foot forward.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand. You should use your heavy-weight dumbbell and straighten that arm overhead, slightly sideways.
  3. Now bend to your left side and try to reach the floor on the left with your left hand.
  4. Go as low as you can without compromising the position and with your back straight.
  5. Do 15 reps on each side.

6. Mermaid

Mermaid exercise to reduce side fat
Image: Shutterstock

This Pilates move concentrates on your side muscles specifically. It is a good muffin top or love handle exercise and is an effective waist slimming exercise.

How To Do:

  1. Lie down on your right side with your legs straight and feet stacked together.
  2. You can cross your ankles if it helps but keep them together.
  3. Also, keep your legs slightly forward so that you rest on your bum cheek and not on your hip.
  4. Lift your legs up as high as you can and lower them back down.
  5. Do 15 reps.

7. Leg Lifts

Leg lift exercise to reduce side fat
Image: Shutterstock

Leg lifts are very effective as lower belly fat and muffin top exercises and also as great core exercises.

protip_icon Quick Tip
You can also add ankle weights to improve your core strength and effectively reduce side fat.

How To Do:
  1. Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Place your hand under your bum and straighten both your legs.
  3. Lift your legs up as high as you can and lower them back without touching the floor. Keep the legs straight at all times.
  4. Do 15 reps.

8. Hip Dips

Hip dip exercise to reduce side fat
Image: Shutterstock

This move is very effective for toning your oblique muscles along with all the benefits of a side plank.

How To Do:

  1. Get in a forearm plank position and roll to one side in the forearm side plank position.
  2. After you get your balance, place your free hand on your hip and start dipping your lower hip to the floor up and down.
  3. Do 15 reps on each side.

9. Dumbbell Side Bend

Dumbbell side bend exercise to reduce side fat
Image: Shutterstock

Dumbbell side bend is just an advanced version of your side bend stretching exercise and is a good alternative to the Russian twists. It is a killer move that can annihilate your side fat with all the grace of a ballerina.

How To Do:

  1. Grab a dumbbell in each hand and stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Bend from your waist to your left side as low as you can and at the same time sweep your arms in an arch overhead as you bend.
  3. Straighten up and repeat on the other side.
  4. Keep alternating and do 20 reps.

10. Tummy Tuck

Tummy tuck exercise to reduce side fat
Image: Shutterstock

This is again a total body move that is very effective for toning arms, abs, and attacking that stubborn side fat. The move is done in 3 parts, but beginners can start with just 1 part and then slowly progress to do the complete exercise.

How To Do:

  1. Stand with your feet apart and abs tight.
  2. Bend forward with your legs straight and walk forward with your hands until you are in a plank position.
  3. Bend your right knee and try to touch it to your right elbow.
  4. Now take that knee to the center and touch your chest.
  5. Now take it to the left and touch it to your left elbow
  6. Straighten back the leg and repeat with your left leg.
  7. Keep alternating and do 15 reps.

11. Woodchopper’s Exercise

A man doing woodchopper exercise with his trainer
Image: Shutterstock

This exercise involves dynamic movement that engages multiple muscle groups, especially the core, shoulders, and obliques. It mimics the motion of chopping wood and is performed with a resistance band or a weight to increase intensity.

How To Do:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold a dumbbell or medicine ball with both hands above one shoulder, with both arms extended.
  3. In a controlled manner, bring the weight down diagonally across your body and towards the opposite hip while pivoting your feet and twisting your torso. Keep your core engaged throughout the movement.
  4. Slowly reverse the motion, bringing the weight back up and across your body to the starting position.
  5. After completing one set, switch to the opposite side and repeat.
  6. Perform 3 sets of 12-15 reps each.

For anyone wondering how to lose side fat, these 11 exercises are the most effective solution. Add these to your daily workout regime along with healthy eating habits to get rid of side fat quickly.

Infographic: Dietary Changes To Get Rid Of Side Fat

You can easily reduce side fat by making dietary changes along with your exercise routine. From including plant-based food to staying hydrated, there are some practical ways to achieve a toned body. Check out the infographic below to learn how to eliminate side fat with easy dietary changes.

dietary changes to get rid of side fat (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Commonly known as love handles or muffin tops, the fat accumulated at the sides of your waist can be a tad difficult to lose. However, making some lifestyle changes with clean eating habits and following the exercises mentioned above can help you see a difference over time. Simple, easy, and effective, these exercises do not need any special equipment to follow. They help lose stubborn fat and strengthen and tone your side oblique muscles. Oblique crunch, mermaid, hip dips, or side bends, including these in your workout routine every alternate day, will help keep your waist in its best shape and form.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is side fat hard to lose?

Jesse Feder, Clinical Dietitian at the Memorial Regional Hospital South, says, “Side fat can be a stubborn area to lose weight from. Unfortunately, you cannot target specific body fat to get rid of. Everyone’s body gets rid of fat from different areas first, and a lot of it is genetic. That being said, it is very much possible to lose side fat.”

Does running decrease side fat?

According to Jesse Feder, “Running can be a great cardiovascular exercise to burn off calories and help you reduce body fat. You can reduce side fat with a consistent running schedule and a healthy diet.”

Does stress cause side fat?

Jesse Feder says, “Stress can contribute to an increase in side fat. Stress releases certain hormones that can lead to an accumulation of fat throughout the body. It also leads us to emotional eating, which can contribute to side fat.”

How long does it take to lose side fat?

You need to be consistent with exercise to lose side fat. Then, it may take up to 2 or 3 weeks to start seeing changes in your body.

Can walking reduce love handles?

Walking alone will not reduce love handles. You need to start exercising consistently to reduce love handles.

Key Takeaways

  • Muffin tops or love handles are common forms of fat deposits along the sides of your waist.
  • 20-30 minutes of regular exercise targeting your oblique muscles every day can help keep your waist in shape.
  • Oblique crunches, elbow twists, and side planks are a few of the best exercises that can help you reduce side fat effectively.
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Burn stubborn side fat in just 2 weeks! Learn how to target and reduce fat on the sides with this easy-to-follow video. Check it out!

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Rakesh Rathod

Rakesh RathodCertified Personal Trainer

Rakesh Rathod is a certified fitness trainer and yoga instructor with more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry. He also has a diploma in nutrition, level 1 in Krav maga, and is a bodybuilding contest coach. He specializes in weight loss training, knee pain and back pain rehabilitation, and prenatal and postnatal workouts. He has trained people...read full bio

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