Despite their cutesy name, love handles are not the kind of friends you want hanging around. The term refers to the sections of fat on the sides and front of your stomach that stick around like white on rice.
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 is currently embarking on a journey to get fat once again just so he can get fit once again.
Yes, you read that right: right now, 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 is currently doing 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.
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 fat calories, will only make your work 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:
One of the best ab workouts, the plank is a simple exercise in form, a serious challenge in practice. While belly down on the floor, lift up onto elbows at shoulder width, onto your toe tips, and keep your head up and back straight. Hold well into the burn, then break and repeat.
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, arms out.
For a proper squat, keep your feet shoulder width, your back straight and head up, and bend your knees to at least a 90-degree angle. As for weight, Manning says you can use “kettlebells, kids, laundry detergent,” whatever comes to hand and adds some weight.
Read more: Best Leg Workouts
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