The first thing to know is that no matter what your body type is, spot-reducing fat doesn’t work. You can’t spot-reduce body fat because you store fat cells all over your body—where your fat cells happen to be concentrated is often a genetic predisposition.
If you want to lose your love handles, you need to lose weight all over by making dietary and lifestyle changes, and then tone up your stomach with targeted exercises. If you take our holistic approach, you’ll lose pounds all over, and strengthen and tighten your tummy.
Since love handles are made up of basic body fat, don’t pay attention to fad diets, extreme cleanses, or any contraption that promises “6-pack abs” by Sunday.
These basic lifestyle changes can be the catalyst to achieve your weight loss goals, and help you lose those love handles:
1. Get Enough Sleep
When you’re overly tired, you’re more likely to reach for sugary snacks and extra calories to keep you going. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
2. Manage Stress
If you’re always stressed out, there’s a chance stress is contributing to your belly fat. When chronically high levels of cortisol exist in your body, it can increase the amount of visceral fat your body stores—i.e, belly fat.
We can’t get rid of stress altogether, but using meditation, yoga, and other relaxation techniques can help you manage your body’s response to it.
3. Eat Clean
Your diet matters just as much as what workouts you do when it comes to getting rid of love handles. You can’t out-train a bad diet. Be sure you’re eating nutritious, well-balanced meals that are full of vegetables, protein, and complex carbs like whole grains. Eat more plants, eat less junk- period!
If you’re lost on where to start, check out Get Started with Clean Eating.
4. Get Your Cardio In
The CDC recommends you get 150 minutes of heart-pumping cardio per week. If you want to lose or maintain weight, you’ll need to do cardio in addition to the toning exercises listed below.
And no matter what you hear out there, weight loss is still mostly science. You need to expend more calories than you take in, and doing cardio exercise really helps you up your daily calorie expenditure everyday! (Not to mention heart health is also very important for women.)
5. Train Your Whole Core
The love handles might seem to sit off to the side but training your entire core will best results for a tight tummy. While your body sheds lose the fat through the aforementioned clean eating and cardio, the following moves will tighten and strengthen the area around the middle for those real results we’re talking about!
Love Handle Workout
Now that you understand the diet and lifestyle changes that need to occur, we’ll move onto the workout.
These five toning exercises specifically target love handles, and will have you feeling the burn! Combine this workout with the advice above and you’ll watch that belly fat “waist” away.
- Go through the five exercises as instructed, rest one minute, and repeat the list two more times.
- Try this workout three times a week for best results!
- Note: if you don’t have a medicine ball, a dumbbell or other weighted item will work
Full Body Roll-Up: 12 Reps/Side
- Start lying on mat with arms extended overhead, legs long, and feet flexed.
- Inhale as you lift arms up and begin curling chin and chest forward. Exhale as you roll the entire torso up and over legs keeping abs engaged and reaching for toes.
- Inhale as you begin rolling your spine back down one vertebra at a time and exhale as the upper portion of the back lower and arms reach pack overhead. Repeat moving slowly and using the abdominals to lift and lower, not momentum.
Russian Twist: 12 Full Rotations (24 Twists)
How to do Russian twists:
- Start seated with knees bent and feet flat on the floor and holding both hands in front of chest (a dumbbell is optional).
- Keeping the spine long and the abdominals tight, lean back slightly and lift the feet a few inches off the floor. (To modify, keep the feet on the floor.)
- Slowly twist the torso to the left and bring the hands beside the left hip. Return to center, and then slowly twist to the right and bring the hands beside the right hip to complete one rotation.
Side Plank Lift and Lower: 12 Reps/Side
- Come into a side forearm plank by lying in one long line on one side stacking your elbow under your shoulder and keeping your forearm on mat perpendicular to your body.
- Stack your feet and stay in one long line as you engage your core and lift your hips up forming a side forearm plank.
- Dip your hips down towards the mat and lift back up using your obliques and core muscles.
Perform 12 times on the right side and 12 times on the left side.
Swimmers: 30 Seconds
- Lie on your stomach with the legs and arms extended. Engage your abdominals so you feel your transverse abdominis contract.
- Lift your arms and legs off the floor and keep your nose in a hover above the mat. Flutter your arms and legs like you’re swimming, moving from the hips and shoulders (not the knees and elbows).
- Inhale for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts.
Oblique Crunch with Long Legs: 12 Reps/Side
- Start lying on side in one long line, shoulder stacked over elbow and on forearm. Swing your legs forward and lean back on glutes slightly (like your sitting on the back pocket of your blue jeans) and lift legs off the mat on the diagonal, extend top arm long.
- Contract your core as you reach your toes up to your hand. Then lower legs and lift arm to return to start. Remember to repeat on the other side.