HOW TO GET RID OF LOVE HANDLES
If you’ve got love handles, trust me, you’re not alone. This is one of the most common areas where the male body stores fat.
Today I’m going to give you a four step, no-BS strategy to get rid of love handles(aka spare tires) once and for all, starting from any body fat level.
However, strategies will vary for the guys that have the most noticeable love handles versus those men are already pretty lean and want to get rid of those last remaining signs of love handles.
If you have more love handles and belly fat to lose, changing your nutrition and your body composition is going to be your first step.
No matter what you’ve heard…
There’s no amount of crunches or an aerobic exercise program that can undo the worst nutrition mistakes.
However, once you’ve got your nutrition habits dialed in, there are certain types of exercises that can create lean muscle definition in the abs, lats and obliques. This will help the remaining love handles appear less obvious as you continue to work to decrease your body fat percentage.
Let’s dive into each of the steps in detail so you can incorporate them into your daily routine and start to see those love handles disappear.
STEP ONE: IMPROVE YOUR NUTRITION
If you’re carrying a lot of body fat, the very first thing you have to do is clean up your nutrition.
Don’t start looking for specific exercises, like countless side crunches, plank position, Russian twists, or some other magic exercise to get rid of love handles. Core isolation exercises won’t work because you can’t spot-reduce belly fat. While belly fat accumulation is common in the human body, and especially in males, you can’t opt to just get rid of belly fat. Spot reduction is a myth.
As much as some health gurus preach it, an aerobic fitness program isn’t the answer either because you can’t out-exercise a bad diet.
Poor nutrition is well-known to cause excess weight gain and has a negative influence on your energy levels and overall health.
You’ll have to consistently focus on your nutrition to eliminate overall body fat and achieve weight loss, and the love handles will fall away with it. The food you put in your body has a significant influence on body fat storage, so it’s the main place to turn when you want to lose fat.
After all if you’re consuming a calorie surplus without enough energy expenditure, this excess energy has to get stored somewhere and you’ll see an increase in body fat.
Now, you might say, “But, Jeff! I always watch what I eat”, or “I only drink on weekends”. Guys, it’s important to pay attention to the details. There are things you might be doing regularly and perhaps not even realizing just how often you’re doing them that could be getting in the way of losing the excess body fat. You need a balanced diet and a consistent calorie deficit: consuming fewer calories than you burn.
Outside of the obvious aesthetic value, losing body fat has important health implications as well including reducing risk of heart disease.
Once you start really focusing on your nutrition, you’ll find that there may be one or two things you’re doing on a daily basis that are keeping you from reaching your goal. Consuming excess sugary foods and liquid calories found in high calorie drinks are two of the big ones.
Eat a diet rich in protein, fibrous and starchy carbs, and cut out the unnecessary calories from fats, refined sugars and other high-calorie foods. Check out the article on How To Lose Body Fat Fast to see more details about why more aerobic training isn’t the answer, and some great tips on forms of protein, fat sources and the best types of carbohydrates for fat loss. Once you start to focus on eating healthy foods you enjoy, calorie reduction will be automatic. No counting or measuring required!
Also be sure to combine your healthy nutrition plan with healthy sleep habits and stress management strategies in order to accelerate fat loss and improve overall health.
STEP TWO: INCREASE THE WIDTH OF YOUR LATS
Start working right now on increasing the size and width of your lats.
Why the lats if you’re looking to lose love handles?
Because visually, as your lats get wider your waist is going to look narrower.
To develop that visual difference between lats and waist, you need to modify your lat exercise form a bit to build more muscle mass. I’m going to use the one armed row as an example of the strength training form modification we’re talking about.
If you watch as I do this, when I take the dumbbell just up to the level of my waist, but not beyond, I’m never fully contracting the lat.
Instead, to train the lowest point in the lats closest to the love handles, we need to pull the elbow back behind the body.
You’re going to have to decrease the weight a little bit here, so that you can get that elbow behind your body without over-rotating, almost wrapping around your back. Lifters with an ego are going to have a hard time with this, because we all love to swing those big dumbbells. But unfortunately, that does nothing for the lats.
When you incorporate this exercise form in all of your lat training, you’re going to feel the difference, and you’ll start to see a widening of the lats muscle tone and the comparative visual narrowing of the waist.
STEP THREE: INCREASE YOUR AB TRAINING CONSISTENCY
The next step is to increase the frequency of training your abs – provided you’re already focused on a healthy diet.
My Six Pack Promise app can show you how to work your abdominal muscles at all different levels: beginner ab workouts to advanced ab workouts. Regardless of your level, you’ve got to work your abs more frequently to create some visual distraction in your middle.
I preach very regular ab training, even up to five to seven days per week. You don’t have to work your core muscles for hours and hours at a time. The most important thing is that you’re consistent with training your abdominal region.
The Six Pack Promise app deals out six-minute workout programs with abdominal exercises according to your specifications for fitness level, available equipment and more. A portal web version of this app is included with all of my ATHLEAN-X programs to help you make sure you’re getting your ab training in.
And here’s the best news…
You will begin to see your abs at a much higher level of body fat than you might think. Even at as high as 11% or 12% body fat you will begin to see muscle definition, especially in the right light.
STEP FOUR: TRAIN YOUR OBLIQUES!
If you’re in that sub-10% body fat level range but still have some residual love handles, I’ve got a solution for you.
Stubborn love handles are pretty common in very fit men, because it’s the number one place where men tend to carry their body fat. It’s also the last place they lose their body fat.
If your diet is already dialed in with a healthy nutrition plan, and you’re training your lats and abs, there is one thing left to focus on. And it’s something that others may tell you NOT to do:
Train your obliques!
Believe me, do not listen to anyone who says to not work your obliques because it will thicken your waistline.
Developed obliques will make your waist look incredible as you continue to work on getting rid of body fat.
If you look at the picture below, I am artificially bloated. You can’t see very much of the obliques.
But when I get rid of that body fat like in the photo below, you see the oblique muscle underneath.
That is what you want.
Training the obliques develops those horizontal lines that contribute to the V-taper, creating even more visual narrowing.
The external oblique is a core muscle that runs downward from the ribs toward the pelvis, and is responsible for the V-taper of the abs. The left obliques pull the torso toward the right and the right external obliques pull toward the left.
When you pair that up with your developed abs and your wider lat size, you’re on the road to seeing really good things when you look in the mirror.
To work the obliques, move in the same direction of the muscle fibers. An Oblique Twist With a Band is one exercise you can do.
OBLIQUE TWIST WITH BAND
Using a band, twist and pull in the direction of the fibers. Switch to the other side and twist in the opposite direction, down and in.
When you pull in the direction of the muscle fibers, down and in, you’re working your external obliques. Anchor the band the other way, and you follow the internal obliques (which you can’t see) and rotate down and in, those muscles will be worked as well. Training the obliques will help build core strength and make your abs really pop.
Now you’ve got a no-BS strategy to get rid of your love handles no matter how far you are from your goal. This plan works, I promise you. But remember this: it’s going to take some effort.
If you’re looking for a training program that picks it up from here and takes it further with step-by-step plans that don’t rely on deprivation diets and restrictive eating to help you with your fat loss goals, check out our ATHLEAN-X programs.
- The love handle area is the most common place where men store fat. They are also one of the most stubborn areas to lose body fat.
- Getting your nutrition right is the first step to get rid of love handles, because abs exercises don’t burn fat and cardio workouts don’t burn enough fat to make up for too much unhealthy food.
- The second step is training the lats to create a visual “drop”, so that the larger the lats get, the smaller the waist looks.
- Third, consistent ab work is important to reduce the appearance of the love handles by creating a visual distraction in the middle. Just a few minutes in your daily routine can produce great visual results.
- Finally, working the obliques develops a horizontal line that accentuates a V shape from lats down to the waist.
LOVE HANDLES FAQS
If you want to lose your love handles fast, it will depend on how much belly fat you have to lose. The only way to lose love handles is by changing your nutrition and your body composition. Crunches and aerobic exercise alone are not enough and you will need to adopt a healthy diet to lose your love handles. However, increasing physical activity including weight lifting can help improve your metabolic rate and allow you to lose body fat faster. If you have significant fat reduction needed, there are health benefits beyond the aesthetic to decreasing your fat deposits including reduced risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome and other medical conditions.
There are no ab exercises or cardiovascular exercises that take away love handles on their own. You will need to adopt a healthy nutrition plan to lose excess bodyfat in order to get rid of your love handles. While you can’t spot reduce love handle fat, doing obliques exercises will help you tone the sides of your abs so that once you’ve reduced fat in that area, the oblique muscles will show. Adopting a consistent program including resistance training and cardio can help improve your metabolic rate. One of the best obliques exercises is the Oblique Twist With Band.
The main cause of love handles is excess body fat distribution. It is a common place where the human body, and especially males store body fat. In order to get rid of love handles you’ll need to adopt a healthy nutrition plan to lose excess body fat. There are no exercises that will get rid of love handles on their own, however increasing your activity level, including resistance exercise, will help boost your metabolism. If you have significant body fat accumulation to lose, there are health benefits beyond the aesthetic to getting to a healthy weight including reduced risk of metabolic syndrome and other chronic diseases and decreased cardiovascular disease risk.
How long it will take to lose love handles will depend on how much belly fat you have to lose. If there’s quite a bit of excess fat, it will take some time to lose the fat. The best way to do this is through adopting a healthy diet, because no amount of crunches or aerobic exercise can fix the worst nutrition mistakes. However increasing your activity level, including resistance exercise, will help boost your metabolism. If you have significant accumulation of body fat to lose, there are health benefits beyond the aesthetic to getting to a healthy weight including reduced risk of metabolic syndrome and other chronic diseases and decreased cardiovascular disease risk.
If you find you can’t lose your love handles, the first place to look is your nutrition. Love handles are excess body fat, and you can’t spot reduce them with specific exercises or exercise them away with cardio alone. Fat loss requires adopting a healthy diet and sticking with it. Regular exercise including resistance training can also help improve your metabolism to lose fat more quickly. If you have significant excess body fat distribution to lose, there are health benefits beyond the aesthetic to decreasing your fat deposits including reduced risk of health conditions and other health implications.
Love handles can go away if you adopt a healthy nutrition plan to lose excess body fat. In men, the belly and love handles are usually the last place for fat to come off, so you’ll need to be patient and consistent with your healthy diet. No ab exercises will make love handles go away because you can’t spot reduce body fat.
Jeff Cavaliere M.S.P.T, CSCS
Jeff Cavaliere is a Physical Therapist, Strength Coach and creator of the ATHLEAN-X Training Programs and ATHLEAN-Rx Supplements. He has a Masters in Physical Therapy (MSPT) and has worked as Head Physical Therapist for the New York Mets, as well as training many elite professional athletes in Major League Baseball, NFL, MMA and professional wrestling. His programs produce “next level” achievements in muscle size, strength and performance for professional athletes and anyone looking to build a muscular athletic physique.