From Fat to Fit: 6 Exercises to Finally Shift Those Love Handles

  • Posted on: 13 January 2015
  • By: JohnSimonson

Whether you’re 14 or 40, love handles are something we have all had to deal with at some point in our lives; I know I have. With the festive period now over, you may be on the lookout for that one perfect routine or miracle workout that will shift that little bit of excess baggage around your waist that you picked up over Christmas, thanks to an overdose of wine, turkey and chocolates.

Before you go spending inordinate amounts of money on weight loss pills, exercise DVDs, gym memberships and e-books with alluring titles like “Six pack abs in six weeks”, however, it pays to do your homework.

Myths dispelled

Despite what the latest self help guide or miracle gym routine may claim, reducing the size of your love handles, that bit of excess fat at the side of your waist, is not something which can be attained through spot fat reduction. Many advertisers are quick to exploit the belief that simply targeting the abdominal muscles, as well as the obliques, the ab muscles that run down the side of your body, is the quickest way to reduce fat and make your stomach leaner.

Here’s the industry inside secret: There’s no such thing as spot reduction.

Advertisers, however, spend millions of dollars each year perpetuating the myth, with the sole intention of convincing you, the consumer, to buy the latest fad piece of equipment or workout routine they have come up with.

It’s as easy as 1,2,3...

The truth is that targeted love handle exercises are only one part, albeit an important part, of a three step process in reducing that unsightly abdominal fat.

The first step, and perhaps the most important facet of a concerted effort to reduce the size of your love handles, is a healthy diet. The importance of a healthy diet in effectively reducing percentage fat levels, and losing those love handles, is well documented. A recent study, published in the journal PLoS One, which monitored the metabolic rates of 30 members of the Tanzanian Hazda tribe, and compared it to a control group of average office workers, concluded that, "differences in obesity prevalence between populations result primarily from differences in energy intake [food] rather than expenditure [exercise]."

The second step of the love handle reduction process is an effective cardiovascular and resistance training regime; and there is a plethora of scientific evidence to support this claim. As it is not possible to specifically target fat reduction on one part of the body, a training routine that blends steady state cardio, with high intensity interval training, as well as a full body weights routine is the second foundation stone in losing those love handles and tightening up that stomach.

While there may be no magic 15 minute workout which will specifically reduce the size of those love handles, with the first two foundation stones in place, an intelligent and well conceived love handle workout routine will help to accentuate your obliques.

And today, we thought we would help you out with the all important, and complementary, step 3 of the three phase love handle reduction program. So here are 6 exercises that will, in combination with the other two steps outlined above, have the pounds dropping off and see those love handles disappearing in next to no time.

6 exercises to take you from fat to fit

1. Oblique crunches

Equipment needed: A flat surface. You may want to use a gym mat, but it is not mandatory.

Lie on your back, with your feet planted and your thighs at roughly 45 degrees to the floor. Keeping your knees together, lean your legs over to one side of your body, while placing your hands across your chest in an ‘X’ shape. To complete one repetition, simply raise your shoulders up off the floor and then return to your starting position, making sure that during each repetition you tense your core/stomach muscles, as a means of getting the most out of each movement. Once you have reached your target number of reps, swing your legs over to the other side and repeat the exercise, to work the other side of your obliques.

Workout tips: Make sure that you suck in your core during each movement as this will maximise the impact of every repetition, and don’t be tempted to cheat by putting your hands behind your head and dragging yourself up; use your core to lift your shoulders off the ground.    

2. The oblique plank

Equipment needed: A flat surface. You may want to use a gym mat, but, again, it is not mandatory.

Assume a standard push up position. While in this posture, rotate your whole body through 90 degrees into a side on position, with one hand touching the floor, and your arm straight, while placing one foot on top of the other. Extend your other arm fully, until it is pointing to the ceiling. Finally, take the extended hand that is pointing to the ceiling and bring it down in front you, reaching under your body as you twist your torso. Return to the original starting position; this is one repetition. Repeat the movements for the desired number of reps, then switch sides and repeat the routine to work the other oblique muscle.

Workout tips: If the initial posture is too difficult to hold, place one foot in front of the other to improve stability. 

3. ‘V’ twists

Equipment needed: A flat surface and an optional medicine ball to increase the difficulty level.

V Twists obliques exercise

Sit down with your feet flat on the floor and knees slightly bent. Lean back slightly, until your feet come off the floor and your body resembles a ‘V’ shape. Hold your medicine ball a few inches away from your body, or if you’re not using a medicine ball then clench your fists and touch them together in an overhand grip. As you move your arms to the right hand side, move your legs to left, which has the effect of twisting your torso and working your obliques. Repeat on the other side in the opposite manner, moving your legs to the right as you twist your upper body to the left.   

Workout tips: Slow, controlled movements are best for maximum impact.

4. Heel touches

Equipment needed: A flat surface and an optional mat.

Lie down on your back, with your feet hip-width apart, planted on the ground, and knees bent. Raise your shoulders off the floor, sitting up slowly, and extend your arms. With your right arm, reach down and touch your heel, then return to the neutral position. Repeat the movement with your left hand, touching your left heel. Continue to alternate the repetitions until the desired number is reached or until failure.  

Workout tips: Slow, controlled movements are best for maximum impact.

5. Standing sit up

Equipment needed: A flat surface and an optional mat, as well as two 50kg (110lb) plus dumbbells that will not roll and have flat edges.

Adopt a standard sit up position; lie on your back, with your feet tucked tightly under the two dumbbells, one foot under each. With your hands touching the side of your head, perform a standard sit up. As you reach the pinnacle of the sit up, raise your butt off the floor and stand up straight. From this standing position, slowly bend your knees in a controlled manner, lowering yourself all the way down until you butt is once again touching the floor. Finally, slowly lean backwards, until your back is resting on the floor. Complete the desired number of repetitions or until failure.

Workout tips: While the sit up motion may require some momentum in order to get up onto your feet, returning to the sitting position from the standing position should be performed as slow as possible. Be careful to use dumbbells that do not roll or move, as this could cause injury.

6. Twist and reach

Equipment needed: A flat surface and an optional mat.

Lie on your back, straighten your legs and bring them up until they are at 90 degrees to your torso. Straighten your arms, until your body resembles a ‘T’ shape. In a controlled manner, keeping your arms and upper back on the floor, lean your legs to your left. When your legs are at a roughly 45 degree angle to the floor, hold the posture and raise your upper torso, reaching for your feet, but not touching them, with your right hand. Lower your torso again until your shoulders are almost in contact with the floor, and then once again reach for your feet with the same hand. Complete the desired number of reps and then repeat on the opposite side, reaching for your feet, which have been lowered to the right, with your left hand.   

Workout tips: Don’t touch your feet when you reach for them and if you are struggling then the pressure can be taken off your hamstrings by bending your knees slightly.

The holistic approach

When it comes to getting rid of those love handles, there is no quick fix, no miracle exercise routine, and certainly no shortcuts. Exercise by itself is not sufficient, although the intensity of it does play a role in abdominal fat reduction, but to get real results, and see those love handles disappear, it requires you to adopt a holistic approach to training.

By following our recommendations, adopting a healthy and balanced diet, full of whole, unprocessed foods, and committing to a regular cardio and resistance training schedule, the 6 core exercises that we’ve outlined above will help to ensure that when you lose that weight, you will unearth a solid and toned set of obliques.

Why not give these exercises a try and let us know how you get on? We’d love to hear your success stories and any other handy hints you’d like to share with our readers.  

Guest Post: This article was written by Kelly. She writes about fitness, and weight loss programs. Visit her website to learn about Nutrisystem, a diet that helps you get rid of love handles through a meal replacement program. With Nutrisystem, meals are delivered to your home every week. You heat them and eat them. No need to worry about counting calories or preparing food. Kelly struggled with her weight for a long time until she found the right resources, one of which was Nutrisystem.