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4 easy Pilates exercises to shrink your love handles

4 Pilates moves to get rid of love handles

man doing pilates leg and arm stretch seated wooden floor
Photology 1971 / Adobe

Having love handles can be frustrating. No matter how much you diet or exercise, those pesky fat deposits around your waist won’t budge. If you’ve tried everything under the sun to lose your love handles with no success, it may be time to give Pilates a try.

Pilates is a great way to target your core and slim your midsection. The controlled movements help build lean muscle mass while burning fat. 

Regular Pilates practice can help you sculpt a stronger, tighter waistline and zap those undesirable love handles. This low-impact exercise is gentle on your joints yet challenging enough to transform your body. 

The good news is that Pilates exercises can be done at home without any fancy equipment. A pilates mat is all you need to start strengthening and stretching those obliques.

Ready to say bye-bye to your love handles? Here are four of the best Pilates moves to help shrink your waistline fast.

Man using Pilates reformer.
Kampus Production / Pexels

Can you lose love handles with Pilates?

The short answer is yes, you can lose love handles with Pilates! 

Pilates is an effective workout method for losing love handles and reducing overall body fat. Core-focused exercises target the abdominal muscles like the obliques, rectus abdominis, and transverse abdominis. Over time, regularly practicing pilates can result in a leaner, more sculpted waistline.

Some of the ways Pilates helps eliminate love handles include the following:

  • Building lean muscle mass: The resistance training burns fat while adding definition. Increased muscle mass boosts metabolism, which further aids fat loss.
  • Targeting deep core muscles: Pilates zeroes in on hard-to-reach muscles that traditional crunches may miss. This trims and slims the waistline.
  • Improving posture: By stretching and engaging core muscles, Pilates builds a strong center. Good posture minimizes the appearance of love handles.
  • Reducing stress: The mind-body practice alleviates stress. High cortisol levels contribute to excess fat storage around the midsection.
  • Burning calories: A Pilates workout torches calories and fat. Overloading the muscles increases calorie burn even after you exercise.

While you can’t spot reduce fat, Pilates’ multi-dimensional core training delivers results. Just be sure to combine it with a healthy diet for maximum love handle shrinking effects.

Love handles.
Tatiana / iStock

How do you target your love handles?

While you can’t actually “target” fat loss from any specific part of your body, you can perform targeted exercises to help build muscle and lose fat overall. Strengthening and slimming your midsection will reduce the appearance of love handles.

Here’s the reality — where you store fat is largely determined by genetics. If your body tends to accumulate fat cells in the abdominal area, that’s where you’ll likely have excess fat. You simply can’t dictate where your body sheds fat from first.

However, you can perform targeted abdominal exercises to engage your obliques and tighten your midsection. Combined with full-body strength training and a calorie-controlled diet, this comprehensive approach will torch fat all over. That will slim your waistline and reduce the size and appearance of stubborn love handles.

Man doing Pilates at home.
Mikhail Nilov / Pexels

4 Pilates moves for getting rid of love handles

Try incorporating these four pilates exercises into your workouts two to three times a week to get rid of those love handles. Be sure to squeeze in cardio like walking, cycling, or swimming on your off days. Over time, you’ll start seeing results from this integrated approach.

Side leg lifts

This exercise targets the obliques and abductors to trim your waist.


  • Lie on your side, legs extended. Prop yourself up on your forearm and elbow.
  • Keeping legs straight and stacked, exhale as you lift your top leg up towards the ceiling.
  • Inhale as you slowly lower the leg back down without letting it touch the floor.
  • Complete 10-15 reps, then switch sides.

Shoulder bridge

This total core exercise strengthens abs, glutes, hamstrings, and obliques.


  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Inhale as you engage your core and lift your hips up towards the ceiling. Your body should be a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
  • Squeeze your glutes and hold the bridge position for two to three breaths.
  • Exhale as you slowly lower your hips back down.
  • Complete 10-12 reps.

Leg circles

Smooth, controlled circles target obliques to whittle your middle.


  • Lie on your back and extend your legs up towards the ceiling.
  • Keeping legs straight, engage your core, and move your legs in controlled circles. The larger the circles, the more you will feel the burn.
  • Complete 15 reps clockwise, then 15 reps counter-clockwise.

Criss cross

This classic Pilates move engages the obliques and rectus abdominis.


  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat.
  • Extend your arms perpendicular to your body like a T.
  • Exhale and lift your shoulders slightly off the mat, reaching your right hand towards your left knee.
  • Switch sides, reaching left hand to right knee while turning your head.
  • Complete 15-20 reps, alternating sides in a controlled motion.

Stick with these simple yet effective Pilates exercises, and you’ll be flaunting a tight, toned waistline in no time. Just remember that diet and cardio are key to accelerating fat loss. With patience and consistency, you’ll finally kiss those stubborn love handles goodbye!

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