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How to get rid of your love handles quickly, according to a fitness expert

There's little to love about love handles — these fat buildups are prominent and stubborn

Man carrying weights.
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While they may have a cutesy name, many people are looking into how to get rid of love handles because they aren’t quite as appealing as they sound. The term is about body fat that is stored on the sides of your abdomen; this is a very common place for someone to hold onto excess weight.

Love is powerful, but love handles are stubborn and are some of the hardest fat buildups to lose. Health and fitness expert Drew Manning is familiar with the love/hate journey that comes with love handles. In 2011, he worked to shed them along with 75 total pounds of excess fat and then embarked on a journey to get fat just so that he could get fit once again.

Yes, you read that right: Drew Manning is doing his best to put on dozens of pounds of fat. Why? Because the first time this noted fitness and diet expert completed his Fit 2 Fat 2 Fit journey, he learned volumes not just about his own body but about what people really go through as they try to lose weight. This includes both the clients he coaches directly and every man and woman out there who is struggling on their own weight loss journey.

This time around, Manning will be 40 years old as he works to lose the love handles, drop overall weight and body fat percentage, and get himself back into the overall lean, cut shape he’s used to. “As we age, we usually have a shift in hormones as men,” says Manning. “Our testosterone can drop, which can make it harder to hold onto or build lean muscle mass, and if we continue to live in a caloric surplus (eating too many calories and not exercising enough), that body fat can start to accumulate pretty rapidly.”

Let’s not let that happen! And if it’s too late, let’s do what Drew did once and then did again: losing the love handles. If you’re ready to end your relationship with stubborn belly fat, put on your best at-home workout gear and get to work. Here’s how Drew did it and how you can, too.

Assortment of vegetables.
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Cut down on calories

Loves handles, the fat “that accumulates around the waist that kind of hangs over our pants on the sides,” as Manning puts it, are all but unavoidable if you pack on excess body fat in general. “Any increase in body fat will cause the love handles to grow, just like other areas of our body. For men, they simply tend to gain weight in the midsection and love handles area.”

“Our bodies are these amazing machines that have all kinds of built-in mechanisms to keep us from starving, but not a lot of mechanisms built in to keep us from overeating … We have to be diligent about what we eat, how much we eat of it, and how we move our bodies, constantly finding what works best for us. It’s important to be open to new ideas of nutrition, exercise, supplements, and even our own lifestyle.”

Beyond choosing a diet that will have you in an overall calorie deficit, Manning recommends people try a keto diet or intermittent fasting. In the meantime, he says you should: “Make sure you’re getting in plenty of protein, lifting heavy weights, focusing on sleep and stress management, supplementing with vitamins D3 and K2, and getting outside in nature as much as possible.”

Anything you can do that burns calories, from swimming to running to rowing to biking, is going to also burn up some of the fat deposited around your hips. And a diet that minimizes the calories you put back in, especially the empty calories, will only make your work that much more productive.

As for exercises that target love handles, a better approach, Manning says, is “to strengthen your overall core.”

To that end, he recommends a few specific exercises:

home fitness plank kids
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Best workouts to lose love handles

Planks

One of the best ab workouts is the plank, which is a simple exercise in form and a serious challenge in practice. In order to perform the exercise, start at the top of a push-up with your body forming a straight line. You can choose to stay here or come onto your elbows. Ensure that you aren’t letting your hips drop down to protect the lower back. Hold well into the burn, then break and repeat.

Roll outs

Roll outs start in almost the plank position, but you will be gripping a wheel with axles, a barbell, or another device that can roll as you straighten up like a rearing cobra, then roll your arms slowly out and lower your body to nearly flat on the ground while your arms are out.

Squats

For a proper squat, keep your feet shoulder-width with your back straight and head up. Bend your knees to at least a 90-degree angle to come into the squat before pushing back up through your heels. As for weight, Manning says you can use “kettlebells, kids, laundry detergent,” whatever comes to hand and adds some weight.

Man using foam roller on back.
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Rest and recovery

Your calorie intake and exercise regimen are very important for getting those love handles gone. It can be easy to jump into an intense program without paying much mind to rest and recovery. This can hinder your progress and even result in an injury.

Plan out your rest days, even if they are active rest days that involve activities like walking. You also want to be sure to warm up before all your workouts and stretch after. Lastly, make sleep a priority. Eight hours a night allow your muscles to repair as needed and will give you the necessary energy for your upcoming workouts.

Christine VanDoren
Christine is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist with an undergraduate degree from Missouri State University. Her…
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