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What Is the Best Exercise to Get Rid of Love Handles?

Reviewed on 11/24/2020

What Are Love Handles?

Exercise cannot target fat in specific areas of the body. Love handles will shrink as you lose weight overall, mostly through cutting calories. Abdominal exercises may improve muscle tone and appearance, but it's a myth that you can “sculpt” the fat away.
Exercise cannot target fat in specific areas of the body. Love handles will shrink as you lose weight overall, mostly through cutting calories. Abdominal exercises may improve muscle tone and appearance, but it’s a myth that you can “sculpt” the fat away.

Love handles refer to excess fat on the sides of the waist. This fat often hangs over the sides of pants and due to its appearance is also called a “spare tire” or “muffin top.” This area is a common concern for people who want to slim down.

What Is the Best Exercise to Get Rid of Love Handles?

Unfortunately, exercise alone will not get rid of love handles. Studies have shown that abdominal resistance training does not reduce belly fat or slim the waistline more than diet alone. 

Diet plus exercise works best to reduce love handles. It is possible to tighten the core muscles in the lower abdomen, and when combined with diet, the mid-section can appear more toned. 

To lose your love handles, you need to lose fat all over the body. The best exercise regimen for fat loss includes both aerobic and strength exercises (resistance training). High-intensity interval training (HIIT), also called high-intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE), is a type of cardiovascular exercise that alternates between short bouts of high-intensity and low-intensity exercise. HIIT usually alternates between slower to moderate-intensity and high-intensity movements. The Obesity Reviews Journal reviewed 13 different studies on overweight adults and found that HIIT reduced weight and waist circumference.

Specific exercises that can help tone and tighten the mid-section include: 

  • Abdominal scissors 
    • Lay on your back with hands at your sides or under your glutes for back support
    • Extend legs straight, then cross the legs over each other, alternating the leg that crosses on top; or alternate legs going straight up and down
    • Don’t let the legs drop to the floor 
    • Make sure your core is engaged and your lower back is pressed onto the floor
  • Plank
    • Lay down on your belly and prop yourself forearms and toes, head facing the floor
    • Engage the abdominal muscles and keep the body in a straight line
    • Hold position for a few seconds and return to the floor
  • Mountain climbers
    • Start in a plank position 
    • Bring the right knee up and across the body, past the stomach to the left elbow, keeping the back and arms straight and core engaged
    • Return to a plank position and repeat on the other side
  • Side plank
    • Lie down on the right side and prop the body up using the right elbow and hand, with the left foot stacked on top of the right foot
    • Raise your hips and buttocks towards the ceiling 
    • Hold position for a few seconds and return to the floor
    • Repeat the on the other side
  • Russian twists
    • Begin in a seated position with knees bent, feet hip-width apart
    • Lean the upper body backwards to a 45-degree angle, keeping the back straight
    • Engage the core and twist the upper body to the left and place hands on the floor, then twist to the right and place the hands on the floor
  • Woodchoppers
    • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and raise both arms above the head on the left-hand side
    • Bring hands down toward the floor on the right-hand side of the body as you perform a squat while twisting the mid-section and hips
    • Perform several times and repeat on the other side
  • Consult a doctor or physical therapist before starting any new exercise program. Always follow proper form for all exercises, and stop if something hurts.

QUESTION

Weight loss occurs in the belly before anywhere else. See Answer

What Diets Work to Get Rid of Love Handles?

Just as there is no specific exercise to get rid of love handles, there is no way to quickly reduce love handles with diet. Fad diets may help you drop pounds quickly and maybe even inches off your waistline, but most of that will likely be water weight and it will be temporary. Losing love handles comes down to old fashioned diet and exercise, which are key factors in determining how much fat is in our bodies. 

Diet tips to help get rid of love handles include: 

  • Reducing sugar intake
    • The body needs very little sugar and any excess is stored as fat
    • Cut down on sugars in empty carbohydrates such as cookies, cake, and white bread
  • Consuming a plant-based diet
    • Beans, lentils, peas and chickpeas (called pulses) are high in fiber and plant protein and help regulate blood sugar levels and reduce overall body fat
    • People who consume whole grains lose more body fat than those who eat processed grains
  • Intermittent fasting
    • Based on the concept that humans were designed to eat for short periods of time followed by hours (and sometimes days) of fasting
    • There are no food or caloric restrictions, but restrictions on WHEN to eat
    • Popular methods include 16/8 (8 hours of eating followed by 16 hours of fasting), the “Eat-Stop-Eat” method (two 24-hour fasts per week on non-consecutive days); and the 5/2 method (only 500 calories for 2 non-consecutive days, and 5 days of normal eating per week)
    • Intermittent fasting has been shown to help reduce body fat

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Reviewed on 11/24/2020
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