Despite their rather pleasant name, love handles have a very poor reputation, and for good reason. Not only are they displeasing to look at, but they are also notoriously hard to get rid of. Contrary to what you might think, getting rid of love handles is a bit more complex than spending hours huffing on a treadmill.
Build Muscle, Lose Flab?
A good method for losing waist fat is to utilize both cardiovascular and strength-training activities. The criteria to qualify as a cardiovascular exercise is simple; an activity just has to force the body to increase its heart rate. In comparison, the goal of strength-training exercises is to boost the strength and durability of muscle tissue.
If possible, try to set aside 150 minutes each week for moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercises. Some options that can fit the bill include walking, jogging, swimming and cycling. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recommends showing some restraint when exercising; your breathing should accelerate, but you still should be able to speak to those around you.
Strength training activities should also be performed on a routine basis, ideally two to three days each week. To eliminate extraneous fat, you might be tempted to focus solely on your abdominal muscles. A far better strategy would be to work on several areas in a addition to the abdomen, such as chest, back, hips, arms and legs. Those new to exercise can build up their muscles using free weights, resistance bands and weightlifting machines.
Exercises Without Weights
Aside from strength-training and cardiovascular activities, love handles can also be addressed with some weight-free techniques.
Bicycle Crunches: This exercise is somewhat similar to sit-ups; you start by lying on your back with your hands placed behind your head. Make sure that both knees are bent. Extend your left leg forward while simultaneously moving your left elbow towards the opposite leg. Repeat this exercise using your right elbow and leg. Try to work your way up to three sets of twenty-five crunches.
Standing Trunk Twists: You can also work off hip fat from a standing position. To perform a proper standing trunk twist, stand with both your hips and legs facing forward. With your knees relaxed and feet hip-width apart, turn your torso (or trunk) to the right, moving your left arm in the same direction. The elbow should be bent and your hand closed, as if you were punching an invisible foe. Immediately repeat this exercise in the opposite direction, with your right fist punching across your body.
Side Planks: As its name suggests, side planks are performed with either the left or right side of the body facing the ground. Begin by lying on the right side of your body, using your right elbow as support. Keep your legs straight, and place them so that the left leg is directly on top of the right leg.
Once in the correct position, shift your body into a straight line using your torso muscles. If this proves to be too difficult, allow your right knee rest against the floor. Try to hold the “straight line” pose for 30 seconds before moving back to a relaxed position. A good initial goal is to aim for two to three repetitions for each side.