Doesn’t it sound better to call excess body fat around your waist “love handles” rather than abdominal obesity? Sometimes we tend to take things less seriously when we give it a pet name rather than the difficult truth of what exactly something is as it relates to our health.
“Love handles” are the excess fatty areas that sit on either side of the waist above the hips. It is thought that calling them love handles comes because an individual’s partner or loved one will often embrace or hug them around the hips, which is where these excess fat pockets happen. Having body fat is not the problem; the problem is having too much body fat or excessive weight. Having fat is a good thing, and we need it. However, like just about everything in life, the problem comes when a little fat becomes too much fat and adversely affects our health.
Love handles (or that excess fat around your waist) aren’t necessarily a problem when it comes to your health. It may be an issue of appearance or wanting to be lean and tight without the jiggle or discomfort of what’s hanging over your waistband when you sit down. The real trouble occurs when that extra weight around the waist becomes abdominal obesity. That doesn’t sound cute anymore, does it? Abdominal obesity can be caused by an underlying disease, but typically it happens because of diet, sedentary lifestyle, or alcohol use.
Carrying excess weight around the abdomen can impair the body’s responsiveness to insulin, raising blood sugar and insulin levels. Excessive body fat contributes to major causes of death and disability, including heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, osteoarthritis, fatty liver, and depression. Rather than giving pet names to excessive, unhealthy abdominal fat, it’s far better to create a strategic plan to lean up and get healthy.
The underlying cause of love handles is fat retention. Typically, fat cells accumulate when your body takes in too many calories or you don’t burn as many calories as you’re consuming. For many people, those fat cells LOVE to accumulate in certain areas, such as around your waist, creating love handles.
Because love handles, or that extra weight around your waist, are created from a diet that’s too high in calories, it’s not possible to reduce or eliminate love handles without addressing your diet and nutrition. Make sure that you’re practicing a consistent, calorie-conscious diet so that you are on the best path to eliminating the fat cells that have accumulated around your waist. This will be an essential step as it is not possible to spot-reduce fat through specific exercises. However, it is possible to directly work the muscle areas around the waist or core, along with above and below the waistline, to help change the appearance of your waist as your love handles begin to decrease.
Exercise, especially lifting weights, will also help you burn more calories, even while you’re at rest! It may seem counterintuitive to work something like your legs or glutes when what you really want to do is get rid of your love handles. The truth is that working those largest muscle groups will help you in overall fat loss, so it’s important to target your legs and butt even as part of your love handle workout.
Comprehensive Love Handle Workout Circuit:
Something important to keep in mind is that you can replace this leg exercise with any one of your favorites. If you’re already comfortable and familiar with barbell squats or deadlifts, do those! I am suggesting the walking lunge because it’s a simple (not necessarily easy) body resistance exercise that requires no additional equipment. However, you can also add weight to the walking lunge to intensify your workout.
How to do a walking lunge:
Modification: The walking lunge can be done with or without adding weight. If you need more resistance, pick up a set of dumbbells 5, 10, or 20 pounds. Challenge yourself as much as possible!
The Russian twist is an effective way to build your core and shoulders. It’s a rotational movement that may look easy, but it requires a lot of strength and support. This means you’re getting cardiovascular exercise, burning calories, and training and building muscle in your core.
How to do a Russian twist:
Side planks work the deep spinal stabilizing muscle quadratus lumborum, also called the QL. This is the deepest abdominal muscle, commonly referred to as the back muscle. Your back is also part of your core. The side plank helps tighten the muscle in your core, changing the appearance of love handles. It will also strengthen your core without stressing your back in the way that crunches and sit-ups do.
How to do a side plank with reach:
Modification: The side plank with reach is an excellent bodyweight exercise, but if you’d like to add more resistance for an extra challenge and to amp up your cardio, you can add weight by holding a 3–5-pound dumbbell in your hand while you’re doing the reach through and back up to starting position. You’ll notice that this increases the intensity of this exercise quite a bit!
I hate to love/love to hate mountain climbers. This can be such an intense exercise that combines plank position, activates your lower body, forces the engagement of your core, and is a cardio exercise. It’s the best combination of all things that will get results to reduce or eliminate love handles.
How to do mountain climbers:
Note: Keeping your weight evenly distributed on both feet and hands throughout the exercise will allow your arms, chest, and shoulders to stabilize your upper body while simultaneously activating your core. Your core will help stabilize your lower body, making this a superior love handle eliminating exercise!
Core exercises can help you improve and reduce the appearance of your love handles, but they’re also crucial for balance and stability. Core exercises train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips, and abdomen. This leads to better balance and stability, improving your confidence and appearance and bringing benefits to daily tasks for a lifetime.