See Ya, Love Handles! These Trainer-Approved Moves Will Make them Disappear
No, you can't target fat in any one area, but you can spot-tone up to get rid of your love handles.
“Many believe the obliques are only located in front, however, they wrap around the torso, much like a corset would wrap around your waist, in both front and back,” says Tracy Campoli lifestyle and wellness coach and renowned YouTube fitness guru. “To get rid of back fat, you want to work the internal oblique muscles and the lower back muscles simultaneously.” Try this exercise: Stand with your legs hip-width apart and arms up over your head. Lift your right leg up with a bent knee up and out to the side. At the same time, lower your right elbow towards your right glute. Then, twist your torso as though you are looking behind your right shoulder. Repeat this ten to 15 times on the right side, then repeat the sequence on the left side. This technique from Campoli uses the internal oblique muscles to rotate the torso while incorporating a lateral crunch on the working side of the body—and is good for your balance, too, as are these other balance exercises.
Back fat stroke
This exercise will strengthen and tone the lower back, says Campoli. Lie on your stomach on a mat or thick towel, with legs hip-distance apart and arms straight out in front of you (by your ears), forehead on mat or towel. Inhale as you contract your abdominals and lift your head, chest, and legs off the floor, then reach your hands back towards your feet with the thumbs facing up and the palms facing away from you. Keep your abdominals contracted. Exhale and reverse the arms, bringing them back in front of your head while lowering the legs. Repeat ten times, and, after the tenth repetition, extend your arms straight out in front of your head while keeping legs, head and arms lifted and paddle arms and legs (as though you were swimming) up and down. “Swim” for 20 to 30 seconds. Try these strategies to get rid of love handles without dieting.
Lie on your stomach on a mat or thick towel, with your legs hip distance apart and arms shoulder distance apart so the body is in an “X” or star shape. Keeping your forehead down, inhale as you lift your right leg and right arm, arch back to reach your toes with your hand. Exhale and return to starting position, then repeat on the left side. Do ten sets on each side. This will also work the lower back, Campoli says.
On a mat, position your body on all fours (hands and knees) and raise your left arm straight forward and right leg straight back at the same time while keeping your neck in a neutral position and your hips and shoulders as square as possible—your eyes should be looking straight down at the floor. Return them to the floor and repeat on the left side. Repeat the cycle again. Next, repeat the movement on the right side for 45 seconds then switch to the left. Next repeat on the right side for 60 seconds, then switch to the left for 60 seconds. “The back is particularly thick with layered muscle, so the fatigue of the tissue takes greater effort in order to make micro-tears, which is how the tissue is broken to regrow either more mass or volume in a particular area,” says Danielle Girdano, a certified personal trainer. “Since the back has a large amount of volume, one of the best approaches is to condition, break down, and rebuild the tissue underneath the fat.” This exercise targets the posterior abdominals aka the lower back.
Lay flat on your stomach and a mat or towel. Extend both of your arms out in front of you with your palms facing the floor, stretching them as far as you can, while keeping a slight bend in your elbows. Slowly raise your legs and your arms off the floor, holding the position for 30 seconds. Repeat two more times. This core exercise strengthens and tones your lower back and core muscles by isolating them as you lift your arms and legs off the floor, says Sarah Kusch, a Grokker master and fitness instructor based in Los Angeles. Here’s how to lose belly fat without exercising.
Mountain climbers are a full-body strength and cardio move, says Kusch, that “give you more bang for your buck and specifically targets the core and ‘spare tire’ all the way around the back, toning muscle and melting fat.” Start in plank position with your hands directly under your chest, shoulder-width apart with straight arms—your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your feet. Being careful not to let your lower back sink, lift your right foot off the floor and slowly pull your knee into your body as close to your chest as you can, contradicting your abs. Return to the starting position and repeat with your left leg. Continue alternating, starting slowly and eventually working your way up to a quicker pace that raises your heart rate.
Lay on your back and bend your knees with your heels positioned directly under your knees with your arms relaxed at your side. Push through your heels to raise your hips up and squeeze your glutes. Do your best to keep your knees pointing forward as you raise up and contract. Hold the bridge pose for 30 seconds, then release down to the floor. Repeat two more times. Bridge is a great exercise to strengthen the lower back muscles, glutes, and core muscles, says Kusch. “Squeezing and contracting these muscles when raising the hips off the floor can help increase metabolism, and give the muscles a good burn,” she says. “The targeted muscles can become more toned and banish lower back and abdominal fat.”
Plank position shoulder taps
Begin in a push-up position with arms fully extended slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Tighten your core, then tap your left shoulder with your right hand. Return it to starting position and repeat with the opposite arm. Concentrate on keeping your hips facing toward the ground (and not to the side) to activate your core/obliques. Do this for 20 to 30 seconds, and repeat three to four times, resting about a minute in between sets. One of the major contributors to lower back fat is a poor diet, according to Luis Perez, coach at VidaHealth, so be sure that you’re eating clean, whole foods. “Also, keep your training intensity high, stay consistent, and monitor your workouts. That is the key to progress,” he says.
Elevated knees to elbows
Begin in a standard push-up position with your hands on a sturdy bench or coffee table in front of you, Perez says. Bend your elbow and bring your left knee up towards your left elbow. Bring the knee forward as far as you can while keeping good form and without arching your back, then return to the starting position. Remember to keep your core tight during the entire movement and repeat with your right knee to reach your right elbow. This is one rep—repeat it 20 times. Once you become a pro at it, try forgoing the bench or coffee table and do it on the ground for a bigger challenge.
Squats to high jumps
Start in the squat position, instructs Perez, squatting down until hamstrings are parallel with floor, then burst up and jump as high as you can, extending arms all the way up as if trying to reach the ceiling, As you come back down, return to squat position and repeat 20 times.
Starting in plank position, balance on your right arm, then rotate your body to the left with your left foot stacked atop your right. Put your left hand on your hip or extend it toward the ceiling. Hold for at least 10 seconds, return to the full plank and lower yourself to the floor. Then repeat on the other side. Side planks tone and help you lose the lower back fat and area around the waist, according to Claudia Matles, certified Pilates and yoga instructor, who says that many of her students come to her in hopes of losing lower back area extra weight.
Helaina Hovitz is an editor, journalist, and author of After 9/11.