What Are Love Handles?
Have you ever heard the phrase love handles? It may sound very warm and appealing, but there is nothing attractive about it. In fact, love handles can lead you to your death. The term is used as slang to describe belly fat. When we talk about losing weight and getting rid of body fat, we can probably agree that the most stubborn deposits are on the waist and abs. Stay with us to find out how to get rid of love handles.
Why Are We Getting Side Fat?
Although fat around the stomach is a problem with both genders, for women it’s much harder to battle against. There are a lot of reasons why are we getting fat on our waists. Genetics, aging and hormones are just some of the factors that can trigger fat to accumulate at the sides of the waistline. Likewise, the more fatty, processed and unhealthy foods we eat, the more fats will be stored. If you are leading a sedentary life, you’ll notice that stored fats really like the area around your abdomen. And it’s not just about good looks, or fitting into a dress or your favorite pair of jeans – excessive fat will hurt your health (1). Excess fat around your middle increases your risk of health conditions such as breast cancer, heart disease and diabetes (2, 3).
How to Get Rid of Love Handles?
Getting rid of love handle deposits requires a combination of proper diet and exercises. Your main aim should be shredding fat from your entire body, as this will also reduce that undesired muffin top. A good way to lose side fat is a combination of cardio exercise workout and specific workouts for this problematic area. Perform targeted exercises that focus directly on your obliques, at the sides of your waistline. Cardio exercises workout your entire body, allowing you to burn fats throughout, including the unrelenting waist. For your cardio training, try to do 30-minute workouts daily. You can swim, run, go jogging, brisk walking, cycling, climbing stairs, rowing or exercising on an elliptical machine, it’s really up to you and you can switch between them so you don’t get bored. For the targeted exercises that tackle your sides/waist directly, continue reading.
Exercises for Love Handles
We are going to discuss and present exercises that have proven most efficient for losing fat deposits on your waist and abs. Different people will enjoy different exercises, so we have chosen a variety of easy-to-do, yet effective exercises. During this training, you’ll target your major muscle groups. For each exercise perform two or three sets of 8-12 reps. Use enough resistance so the last two repetitions of each set are hard to finish.
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This exercise is called “woodchoppers” because you are performing similar moves to what you should do if you have to chop wood. Instead of a traditional ax, you’ll be using a one hand weight to perform the exercise correctly.
- Begin by spreading your feet so they can be in alignment with your hips. Hold the weight with both hands and position it above your left shoulder;
- Then, just like chopping wood, swing to the right, taking the weight downward, next to your right knee. Make sure both knees and feet perform a pivot to allow you to twist your body right;
- Raise your arms and weight back where it was;
- Perform two sets of 8-12 reps for each side.
2. Russian Twist
Russian twists can be challenging but also very rewarding. Try not to skip them.
- Begin seated on the floor with bended knees, flat feet and your back at 45-degree angle from the floor;
- Keep your back straight and strong and contract your ab muscles (keep your abs tense throughout the workout);
- Stretch your arms out in front of you and start twisting your torso from side to side. Make sure you are twisting at the waist and not just moving your arms sideways. To up the intensity, tap the floor to the right and left of your hip;
- When the movement becomes easy, increase difficulty by lifting your feet off the floor or using a weighted medicine ball or dumbbell in your hands;
- Perform 2 sets of 10-12 reps. Increase the difficulty if the last reps are not challenging to finish.
3. Bicycle Crunch
The bicycle crunch can be a very fun and dynamic exercise.
- Begin lying on your back with hands next to your ears; raise your legs, creating a 90-degree angle;
- Then, raise your left knee to your chest and touch your right elbow with it;
- Do the same exercise with other leg, all the while having your abs tensed;
- While you are elevating one leg, the other should be kept straight;
- Perform 30 reps, 15 with each leg. Add one more set if the last reps are not challenging to finish.
4. Side Plank Hip Lifts
- First lie on your side and use your elbow as support. Your body should be in a straight line. Legs and also hips should be resting on the floor;
- Next, put your free hand on the hip and at the same time support the body with your elbow and feet;
- Now lift your body from the ground. While you are doing this exercise, keep your body straight so that it will resemble a plank;
- Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side;
- Perform two sets of 8-12 reps for each side.
5. Plank Knee Drive
- Put your body in a plank position (low or high), so your elbows are touching the ground;
- Try to touch your right knee with your right elbow and return to starting position before you do the repeating;
- Do 10 to 15 reps per each side. Once it becomes easy, add one more set.
6. Stability Ball Plank
Image source: fitness-photos.ru /photos /ball-fitness
- For this exercise use a stability ball;
- Begin by putting your forearms and elbows on the ball;
- Achieve balance, and stay in a plank position 2-5 minutes.
7. High Plank From The Hands
- Start by getting into a push-up position and stay like that;
- Then, put your hands below your armpits, while keeping your legs straight;
- Maintain the posture by trying to suck-up your belly button into your spine, creating a flat back.
For this exercise, you will need weights or kettlebell.
- Stand in position where your legs are shoulder-width apart;
- Next, slightly bend your knees to a squat position;
- Now, bring your weights in front of you with your arms forward and return them back slowly.
- Woodchoppers – 2 sets of 8-12 reps;
- Russian twists – 2 sets of 10-12 reps;
- Bicycle crunches – 2 sets of 30 reps;
- Side plank hip lifts – 2 sets of 8-12 reps;
- Deadlifts – 2 sets of 8-12 reps.
- Select one between Plank knee drive, Stability ball plank or High plank from the hands.
You can change the final exercise each time, or just select the one that suits you the best and go for it. By doing these exercises for love handles 2–3 times a week you’ll start shredding fat and slowly showing firm and shaped abs.
Tips for Better Progress
But exercise alone may not be enough – for losing love handles, a combination of exercises and proper diet is essential. In the first part of the article the emphasis was on exercising, and now we are focusing on nutrition. Research shows that eating healthy protein, healthy fats, and healthy carbs can help free your abs. Here are some concrete strategies to improve the effects of exercise and attain dreamy abs:
Reduce Your Calorie Intake to Burn Fat
By creating a deficit of 1,000 calories per day, you can lose up to 2 pounds per week, by using both diet and exercise. Start by cleaning up your diet to reduce the amount of calories you take. Just make sure you don’t go below 1,800 calories daily for men and 1,200 calories for women. Go for lean protein, low-fat or nonfat dairy, whole grains and veggies and fruits. Portion control is key – serve smaller portions of low-calorie, nutritious foods and avoid high-calorie foods.
Make Healthy Substitutes
For example, eat fruits or nuts instead of cookies and chips. Most importantly, limit calories from sugar – these are most likely to gain you belly fat. Go for unsaturated fats found in fatty fish, seeds and nuts, instead of saturated fats from red meat and processed foods.
Add Fruits and Veggies to Burn Side and Stomach Fat
Some fruits contain nutritional substances that will actually burn fat, even though they contain sugar. Veggies can have similar properties. Try to include more of them in your diet: spinach and other green vegetables, beans and legumes, blueberries, raspberries and other berries, coconut, avocado, tomato, grapefruit, pomegranate etc.
One more important thing is reducing stress in your life, as excess stress stimulates the production of cortisol. You should care because cortisol increases your appetite for unhealthy, fattening foods, whose fat settles around your waist. Read up on some stress reducing techniques, like getting enough sleep, meditating or exploring yoga, doing deep breathing techniques or just delegating more tasks at work.
Set clear goals for yourself, like losing maximum of two pounds per week, which is a healthy and safe weight-loss rate. Losing weight too fast can be counterproductive – it can slow down your metabolism and hold on to the fat instead of losing it.
So, how to get rid of love handles? By selecting and sticking to a healthy exercise and diet routine! Love handles will slowly go away and very soon you can jump into new fancy clothes!
- Forbes: Why Love Handles and Belly Fat Are So Dangerous To Your Health
- NIH: Excess Fat Around the Waist May Increase Death Risk For Women
- Harvard Medical School: Abdominal obesity and your health
Melissa Bell has a strong background in nutrition education, fitness and yoga, and experience working on specialized stretching, bodybuilding and weight loss programs. She is actively studying Japanese, doing research and travelling for conferences while taking care of two children.