Love handles poking through your shirt can be the first sign of trouble. Most people are in denial at first when they start accumulating body fat. They blame their ‘ill-fitting’ shirts for their love handles or consistently tug on their shirts throughout the day to conceal them. Since you’re reading this article, I assume you are guilty of doing at least one of these at some point.
Ignoring these signs can worsen your spare tire situation, and it will require more work in the future to fix. Love handles can be notoriously difficult to lose. These are among the last fat stores to disappear during a fat loss program.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of love handle workouts, let’s get to the basics. Do you know how love handles got their name? I thought so.
Love handles is a colloquial expression that refers to excess fat deposits around the waistline, specifically on the sides of the abdomen and lower back. They got their name as an individual’s partner or loved ones often embrace them around the hips. Furthermore, it is often the body part your partner holds onto during a love-making session. The term ‘love handles’ will never be the same for you from this moment. You’re welcome!
In this article, we go over everything you need to know about love handles, including their causes, the associated risks, the holy grail of losing love handles, the best workouts and exercises, and the best lifestyle tips to see quick results.
What are Love Handles?
Love handles are protruding fat stores that sit above your hip bones and cover your external obliques. They are among the most stubborn areas to lose fat from. “Muffin tops” are a sign of poor physical fitness. Plus, they can hamper your physique aesthetics. The V-taper, characterized by broad shoulders and a narrow waist, is widely regarded as the epitome of aesthetic perfection. Love handles, on the other hand, hamper your shoulder-to-waist ratio.
Genetics, hormonal changes, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, and overall body composition can influence love handle development. Besides their impact on your overall fitness and aesthetics, love handles can also lead to health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Contrary to what most people think, performing a few exercises in the transverse (axial) plane isn’t enough to shed the spare tire. Additionally, you cannot spot-reduce your love handles. You must follow a balanced diet and exercise regimen to achieve overall fat loss.
The love handles can be a tricky area to target with exercises. Performing the exercises with a picture-perfect form is crucial to achieving the desired results. You must also make mindful lifestyle choices to lose the love handles and keep them off.
Causes of Love Handles
Love handles develop as a consequence of weight gain. You gain weight when you are in a calorie surplus for a prolonged period, which includes consuming more calories daily than you expend. Your body converts the food into glycogen to use as fuel. However, your body stores excess glycogen as fat. Love handles tend to be the primary area where surplus fat accumulates in the body.
Besides a calorie surplus, here are the other factors that can cause weight gain — and love handles:
- Genetical predisposition
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Hormonal changes
- Lack of sleep
- Certain health conditions
Risks of Love Handles
While some may perceive muffin tops as endearing and dismiss them, it is important to acknowledge that love handles can have significant health implications. Here are some potential risks associated with love handles: 
- Increased risk of chronic diseases
- Higher chances of contracting cardiovascular diseases
- Insulin resistance and diabetes
- Metabolic syndrome
- Body image and psychological well-being
- Kidney disease
The Secret To Losing Love Handles
If eating more calories daily than you can burn leads to excess fat accumulation and love handle development, guess how you can lose the spare tire? Right, by burning more calories in a day than you consume. It is known as a calorie deficit.
Many people believe they can trim their belly fat by doing abdominal exercises and do not need to change their diet. Unsurprisingly, most of these folks never achieve their weight loss goals and end up shopping for new pants and loose-fitting shirts to hide their body fat.
Weight loss ultimately comes down to calories in versus calories out. You can enter a calorie deficit by cutting your calorie intake or burning more calories through exercise. Using a combination of the two will get you the fastest results.
Two Best Workouts To Lose Love Handles
There are two popular ways of training your core. You could do it after a strength training workout to tone your midsection and develop a six-pack. The other method involves performing a high-intensity full-body workout to burn calories and increase fat loss. The HIIT workout is more prevalent among people that want to focus on losing weight, whereas the first type of core workout is favored by lifters that want to build muscle mass and strength.
Core-Strengthening Workout To Lose Love Handles
This type of workout consists of three to four exercises and is done after a resistance training session. Focus on your breathing pattern and contracting your target muscle group with each rep to get the best bang for your buck.
|Russian Twist||3-5||15-20 (each side)||30 seconds|
|Woodchopper||3-5||15-20 (each side)||30 seconds|
|Bicycle Crunch||3-5||15-20 (each side)||30 seconds|
|Side Plank||3-5||1-minute (each side)||30 seconds|
Here is how to perform each exercise in this workout:
Sit on the floor with an upright torso, your knees bent, and heels on the ground. Lean back until your torso is at a 45-degree angle with the floor. Lift your feet off the floor and extend your arms so they are parallel to the floor and over your knees. Turn to your right side while breathing out. Contract your abs and obliques at the isometric contraction point. Return to the starting point and repeat on the other side. Alternate between sides for recommended reps. Advanced exercisers can hold onto a weight plate to make this exercise more challenging.
Stand upright with a hip-width stance while holding a dumbbell with both hands in front of your hips. Interlace your fingers around the dumbbell’s handle for a firm grip. Lift the dumbbell across your body and over your right shoulder. Twist your left foot slightly during the upward motion and fix your eyes on the dumbbell. Bring down the dumbbell diagonally across your body so it is at the side of your left knee. Pause and contract your core during the downward motion. Repeat for recommended reps before switching sides.
Lie on your back on the floor. Hold your hands next to your ears and lift your legs so your thighs are perpendicular to the floor. Bring your left knee toward your chest while reaching across with your right elbow. Pause and contract your core. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
Lie on your side on the floor. Place your elbow under your shoulder and stack your hips and legs. Plant your forearm on the floor so it is perpendicular to your body. Lift your hips off the floor; your body should be in a straight line from head to toe. Place your top hand on your hip. Hold this position for a minute. Without stopping for rest, repeat on the other side.
HIIT Workout To Burn Calories, Boost Fat Loss, and Get Rid of Love Handles
Given below is a full-body high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout that will spike your heart and metabolic rate. This 17-minute HIIT workout will help you shed excess fat and build a shredded core. Perform two rounds of these exercises and limit rest duration between exercises to 30 seconds. You are allowed a two-minute breathing time after completing the first circuit. Also, do not stop for rest while changing sides in the side plank pulse.
|High Knees||30 seconds||30 seconds|
|Mountain Climber||30 seconds||30 seconds|
|Plank Jack||30 seconds||30 seconds|
|Side Plank Pulses||30 seconds (each side)||30 seconds|
|Sledgehammer Overhead Strikes||30 seconds||30 seconds|
|Cross-Body Mountain Climber||30 seconds||30 seconds|
|Sit-Up Twist||30 seconds||120 seconds|
Given below are step-by-step guides to performing these exercises:
Stand upright with a shoulder-wide stance and place your hands on your hips. Brace your core, bend one leg, and lift your knee until your thigh is roughly level with the floor. Return the leg to the ground and repeat on the other side. Establish a steady rhythm.
Assume the push-up position; your hands should be under your shoulders and legs extended behind you. Your body should be in a straight line from head to toe. Lift one foot off the floor, bend at the knee, and bring it toward your chest. Return it to the start position and repeat on the other side. Alternate between sides in a rhythm.
Get into the high plank position. Place your hands on the floor under your shoulders. Extend your legs behind you and place your feet together. Maintaining the high plank, jump and place your feet wider than shoulder-width apart. Jump and return to the starting position. Repeat in a rhythm.
Side Plank Pulses
Get into the side plank position so your body is in a straight line from head to toe. Lower your hips to the floor and return to the starting position. Repeat for the recommended reps before switching sides.
Sledgehammer Overhead Strikes
Grab a sledgehammer in front of your body with your left hand at the bottom of the handle and your right hand just above it. Swing the hammer around your right side and behind and over your head. Smash the tire in the center with full force. Switch hands and return the hammer to the overhead position while swinging the hammer around your left side. Repeat for recommended reps.
Cross-Body Mountain Climber
Get into the high plank position. Maintaining your body in a straight line from head to toe, lift one foot off the floor, bend your knee, and bring it toward the opposite shoulder. Contract your core at the top. Return to the start position and repeat on the other side. Perform this exercise using a steady rhythm.
Lie on your back on the floor, bend your knees, and plant your feet on the ground. Hold your hands next to your ears. Contract your abs and lift your torso off the floor. Turn to your side and bring your left elbow to your right knee during the upward motion. Return to the start position and repeat on the other side.
Most Effective Love Handle Exercises
Sticking to the same exercises can get really boring, really fast. If you dread doing the same movements in every workout, we have got you covered. Below is an exhaustive list of additional exercises that will help tone your love handles. Add these movements to your exercise arsenal to keep your workouts exciting.
Standing Dumbbell Side Bend
Stand upright with a hip-width stance while holding a dumbbell in each hand at your sides. Keeping your elbows locked, brace your core, and slowly lower the right dumbbell as low toward the floor as possible. It should at least be at your knee level at the bottom. Return to the start position. Complete the recommended reps on one side before switching to the other side. Read more about standing dumbbell side bend here.
Lie on your right side on the floor. Stack your legs while maintaining a slight bend in your knees. Place your right arm on the floor so it is perpendicular to your torso. Hold your left hand behind your head. Lower your head and left arm to the floor behind you; this will be your starting position. In a single motion, lift your legs off the floor and raise your knees toward the ceiling while bringing your left elbow to your knees.
Cable Side Crunch
Set a cable pulley at the highest setting and attach a D-handle bar. Grab the handle with a neutral (palm facing inward) grip and take a big step away from the pulley. Place your other hand on your hip. Holding the handle to your ear, perform a side crunch. Contract your core at the bottom of the movement. Repeat for reps before switching sides.
Lie on your left side on the floor; your hips and legs should be stacked. Place your left upper arm on the floor in front of your body so it is perpendicular to your torso. Keep your right hand on your right hip. Lift your right foot toward the ceiling while performing a side crunch. Pause and contract your obliques at the top. Rinse and repeat.
Side Plank Twist
Get into the side plank position. Place your top hand behind your head. Your top elbow should be in line with your shoulders at the starting position. Bring your top elbow to the floor under your shoulders while keeping your legs stacked. Contract your core during the lowering movement and hold for a two-count at the bottom. Repeat for recommended reps before switching sides.
Standing Torso Twist
Stand upright with a hip-width stance. Extend your arms in front of your body so they are parallel to the floor. Interlace your fingers and turn to your right side as far as possible without bending your elbows. Twist your left leg during the turn for optimal range of motion and contract your abs and obliques. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side. Experienced exercisers can hold onto a dumbbell or kettlebell to make this exercise more challenging.
Lie supine on the floor with your legs extended. Place your hands under your hips for leverage. Brace your core and lift your feet a few inches off the floor. Raise your head off the floor. Without bending your knee, lift your right leg toward the ceiling while keeping your left leg in place. Return the right leg to the starting position while lifting the left leg toward the roof. Maintain a steady tempo for recommended reps. More on flutter kicks here.
Side Plank Knee Tucks
Get into the side plank position. Place your top hand next to your ear. Simultaneously, elevate your upper leg towards your chest while bringing your elbow to your knee, all in one fluid motion. Breathe out and contract your abs throughout the range of motion. Return to the start position and repeat for recommended reps before switching sides.
Standing Side Leg Lifts
Stand with your left side facing a sturdy elevated surface like a cable pulley machine. Hold on to the pulley machine with your hand. Hold your right leg slightly in front of your body. Bring the right leg toward the pulley while keeping your knee locked. Raise the leg out to your side as high as possible. Return to the starting position and repeat for recommended reps. You could also perform an oblique crunch during the concentric motion for better muscle contraction.
Side-to-Side Medicine Ball Slams
Place a medicine ball on the floor. Stand upright with a shoulder-width stance so the medicine ball is at your left foot’s side. Bend over and lift the ball off the floor. In a sweeping motion, lift the ball over your head. Raise onto the balls of your feet and slam the ball on your right side as hard as possible. Bend over and lift the ball. Alternate between sides for reps. Learn more about side-to-side medicine ball slams here.
Lateral Band Walk
Wear a loop resistance band around the bottom of your thighs. Take a wide stance so that band is engaged. Bend your knees slightly and hinge at your hips. Hold your hands in front of your chest. Take a wide step to your right side. Walk 10 steps to your right side and return to the starting position. Start with the opposite leg on the subsequent set.
Side Plank with Leg Lift
Get into the side plank position. Raise your top leg as high toward the ceiling as possible. Exhale and contract your core during the upward motion. Hold the position for a two-count. Slowly lower the leg to the starting. Repeat for recommended reps before switching sides. Experienced exercisers can wear ankle weights while performing this exercise for optimal oblique engagement. Also, perform a side crunch to target your love handles.
Side Plank Reach-Throughs
Assume the side plank position. Raise the top arm toward the ceiling so it is perpendicular to the floor; this will be your starting position. Lower your arm toward the floor and thread it between your body and the floor. Breathe out and contract your abs during this lowering motion. Repeat for reps and switch sides.
Lie on the floor on your side. Bend your knees while keeping your hips and legs tacked. Place your bottom arm under your head for support. Place the hand of your top arm on the floor for support. Keeping your ankles stacked, lift your top leg toward the ceiling as high as possible. Hold the contraction for two seconds. Tie a resistance band around your knees for better glute engagement.
Seated Side Bend with Dumbbell
Sit upright on an elevated surface, such as a flat bench, while holding a dumbbell in each hand. Place your feet on the floor wider than shoulder-width apart for better stability. While breathing out, lower the right dumbbell to the floor. Explode back to the starting position. Repeat for recommended reps before switching sides.
More Love Handle Exercises
Here are a few more love handle exercises that will help burn off the spare tire and give you the coveted sex lines:
- Cable Woodchoppers
- Stability Ball Side Bend
- Side Lunge with Twist
- Plank with Knee Tucks
- Side Plank with Arm Reach
- Crunch and Twist on Stability Ball
- Side Plank Clamshells
- Side Plank with Dumbbell Row
- Kettlebell Windmill
- Standing Side Bend with Resistance Bands
- Heavy Farmer Walk
- Single-Arm Dumbbell Row
- Box Jump
- Floor Wipers
- Hanging Windshield Wiper
Tips For Losing Love Handles
Here are a few tips to speed up your fat loss and build a shredded six-pack:
Follow a Balanced and Healthy Diet
Folks serious about losing the spare tire must avoid following a cookie-cutter diet plan. You must follow a personalized diet plan that helps you lose 1-2 pounds weekly. According to the CDC, you must maintain a daily 500-1,000 calorie deficit to achieve this goal. 
Use this total daily calorie expenditure (TDEE) calculator to determine your goal daily calorie intake. Then, break it down into a suitable macronutrient split to lose fat and build muscle mass simultaneously.
Although training is not mandatory on a weight loss program, it can help speed up your progress. Perform two daily cardio training sessions for optimal results — one HIIT and another low-intensity steady state (LISS).
Seeking professional help can help beginners save time and effort. A personal trainer can give you a customized training program and will teach you the correct exercise form. On the other hand, a registered nutritionist will ensure you are hitting your daily macro and micronutrient goals.
Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices
Losing weight and love handles and keeping them off might require a complete lifestyle change. Folks with desk jobs must add more physical activity to their days. You must choose the stairs over the elevator and bike to work when possible.
Start with a goal of walking 5,000 steps daily and slowly make your way up until you are logging 10,000 daily steps. Staying physically active will help burn calories throughout the day and keep your metabolic rate high.
Drinking water at regular intervals can keep you satiated. Furthermore, it can help curb cravings. Drink at least a gallon of water daily to ensure optimal body functioning and overall well-being. Switch calorie-laden sugary drinks and sodas with plain water to speed up your weight loss.
Adequate hydration can also boost your metabolism. Your body is more effective at metabolizing stored fat and converting it into energy when you are hydrated. It can help improve your fat-burning process. Staying hydrated also enhances digestion and nutrient absorption, supporting your overall weight loss efforts.
Many people tend to overexert themselves while trying to lose weight and love handles, which can be counterproductive. Remember, you lose weight while you are asleep, and you must give your body enough to recover. Sleep at least seven to eight hours each night for optimal results.
Also, learn to listen to your body. If you are very sore after a workout, it is best to skip a training session and allow your body time to recuperate. Pushing too hard in the gym can lead to overtraining, which can negatively impact your central nervous system.
Your cortisol levels rise when you are under stress, which can increase your appetite, slow down your metabolism, and increase fat storage. Chronic stress can lead to greater inflammation, emotional eating, and impaired sleep.
Elevated cortisol levels can make it more challenging to lose weight, even when you are following a balanced diet and training program. Meditation, yoga, and journaling can help deal with chronic stress. However, you must consult a healthcare professional if these three methods don’t work for you.
Set a Goal and Track Your Progress
Starting your transformation journey with a specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goal can increase your chances of success. Having a deadline will also motivate you to stick to your fitness regimen.
You must have long-term and weekly goals. Track your progress every week to ensure you are on the right path. Stick to your regimen if the progress is favorable. Conversely, make necessary adjustments if the needle is not budging in the right direction.
Stay Consistent and Dedicated
Love handles can be a stubborn muscle group. Depending on your current and goal physique, it might take you weeks, if not months, to achieve your objective. Nonetheless, you must stick to your fitness regimen with military discipline and ensure you never miss a training session or meal.
You must also consistently challenge yourself by increasing your training intensity and volume to avoid hitting a plateau. Establishing healthy habits will reduce the friction in your training regimen and help you stick to the fit lifestyle for the long term.
Can I lose love handles without exercise?
Yes. The love handles vanish when there is a reduction in your overall body fat, which requires you to be in a calorie deficit. You can lose your love handles by limiting your calorie intake. That said, adding exercise to your fitness regime can help speed up your results.
Is it possible to have a flat stomach and love handles simultaneously?
Some skinny individuals can also develop love handles, known as skinny fat. Skinny fat can result from several factors, including genetics, sedentary lifestyles, medication, or certain health conditions.
How much time will it take for me to lose my love handles?
It will depend on your starting physique and ultimate objective. You cannot spot-reduce your love handles and must work toward overall body fat loss. A 500-1,000 daily calorie deficit can help you lose 1-2 pounds weekly.
Love handles can be stubborn, requiring dedication, determination, and consistency to burn them off. Avoid falling into the spot-reduction trap and focus on reducing your overall body fat to see quick, favorable results.
This article has two highly effective workout routines specifically designed for strength trainers and those engaged in full-body HIIT exercises to effectively target and eliminate love handles. So, what are you waiting for? Lace-up your shoes and get moving. Best of luck!
- Patel P, Abate N. Body fat distribution and insulin resistance. Nutrients. 2013 Jun 5;5(6):2019-27. doi: 10.3390/nu5062019. PMID: 23739143; PMCID: PMC3725490.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Losing Weight. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/index.html