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Chisel Your Waist: 12 Moves and 16 Tips to Safely Shed Stubborn Love Handles

 Written by 

Julien Raby

 Last updated on 

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For a long time, it felt impossible to get rid of love handles. The feed is dominated by workouts which we know isn’t the solution. However, it is possible with proper exercise and nutrition. What this article will do is show you how to get rid of love handles for good. Let’s kick it off. 

What Are Love Handles?

According to Merriam-Webster, love handles, also known as ‘muffin top’, are fatty bulges along the sides of the waist of the body. To put it simply, love handles are simply an excess body fat also known as adipose tissue.

A fat woman holds her love handles
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Body fat serves a variety of functions. For example, it’s a storage site for excess energy for later use. In addition, it’s an endocrine organ that produces hormones such as leptin and estrogen. 

A fit woman measures her waist
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What Causes Love Handles

Some people believe that they have a genetic predisposition to storing fat on the lower back and this is sometimes true. But the only way to gain fat in any area of your body is by eating more calories than you burn. This is better known as a caloric surplus. 

Why is it so hard to lose love handles

Lower back fat is hard to lose because the fat cells in the area are more reluctant to disgorge their contents than the fat cells in other areas. This is a process referred to as fat mobilization. While some fat cells release their stored energy readily, others are more stingy or stubborn such as the ones in your lower back.

A man holds his love handles
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How Long Does It Take to Get Rid of Love Handles?

You can’t lose all of your love handles in one week. It’s impossible to go from 30% to 10% of body fat in one week or lose a tremendous amount of fat unless surgical intervention is taken.

Fat loss is also not size-specific. You decrease body fat storage holistically over time. 

A healthy fat loss is around 2-4% body weight per month or 1 pound per week. The upper limit of the recommended rate of fat loss is 2 pounds per week. 

Therefore, if you have realistic goals and follow a structured regular exercise and nutrition plan, you should see a difference in body fat within 2-3 months. 

It’s very tempting to want to lose 2 pounds per week because you want to get to your goal quicker. However, in our experience, individuals tend to have a lot of repercussions with having such an aggressive caloric deficit.

A woman weights herself
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Best Love Handle Workout: The 12 Best Exercises to Reduce Love Handles

If you’re a beginner, do our core exercises every three days. If you’re more experienced and would like to develop your 6 pack abs faster, then do these every two days. As you keep on building muscle tissue to your abs, you’ll be able to have them pop even if you have some ab fat. 

1. Ab Crunches

This is one of the most effective exercises for the upper abs. Focus on getting a deep contraction. You can overload the abs by holding a weight to your chest while performing this exercise.

2. Cable Crunches

Cable crunches engage lower abs when done properly. Do as much flexion in the spine as possible. To allow maximum flexion, exhale as you crunch and imagine curling your head into your knees. 

3. Hanging Leg Raises 

The hanging leg raises are the king of all core exercises because they activate your abs fully. You can use any variation of this exercise to make your love handle workout easier or more difficult.

4. Cable Woodchopper

This is an excellent movement to engage the oblique muscles. The oblique abdominal muscles work harder in twisting actions. They provide lateral flexion and trunk rotation. 

5. High Knee Twists

If you cannot do it fast, try slowing down the pace. Avoid hard impacts with the floor. To avoid damaging the joints, be sure to always land on your toes. Don’t curve your back. To keep your torso straight, stare at a fixed point in front of you and tighten your abs.

6. High Side Plank 

If you cannot do this abdominal exercise, try keeping the inner leg bent and rest it on the ground. Don’t look at the floor. Do not lower or lift your pelvis. Your head, shoulders, pelvis, and heels should follow an imaginary line. Repeat on the other side.

7. Lying Windmill 

The lying windmill improves core strength and posture. Be sure not to lift your shoulders when you rotate. Keep your stomach muscles well contracted to avoid burdening the spine. 

8. Full Side Crunch 

If you cannot do this variation of full-side crunch, leave one leg on the ground. Your hips should be in line with your shoulders.

9. Cross Crunches

Don’t raise your lower back and keep the abdomen tight. Don’t bend your neck to avoid strain. If you cannot do it, try resting your feet on the ground during the exercise.

10. High Knee Run 

If you are unable to complete this movement, try slowing down the pace. Do not let your feet stay on the ground. Finish the descents on your toes. Do not bend or curve your back. Maintain your torso straight by staring at a pic points in front of you while contracting your abdominals.

11. Side Crunch With Ankle Touch

Never lift your lower back off the floor. Do not strain your neck. You want to stare at a point on the ceiling.

12. Spider-Man Plank 

Rest your foot on the ground when you take it forward if you can’t complete this movement in this way. Be sure not to bend the neck. Your head should always be in line with your back. Switch sides in the shortest time possible. Do not raise your pelvis. Your back and glutes should remain constantly in line. To be able to do this, maintain your abdominals during the exercise.

How to lose weight
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Our 10 Best Tips to Get Rid of Love Handles

1. Resistance Training

Crunches and twists are fantastic exercises to develop the abs, but they can’t help you get rid of the love handles on their own. 

Resistance exercise is the driving force to body recomposition. It’s possible to lose fat using the diet plan alone but impossible to build muscle without some sort of weight training. In fact, it is paramount for muscle building and improving your composition.

The goal isn’t to lose weight it’s to lose as much fat as possible retaining or building as much muscle at the same time. If you build more muscle, you allow your physique to reveal itself even at higher body fat percentages.

2. Focus on Compound Exercises

Compound exercises such as the bench, deadlift, squat, and overhead press give you the biggest bang for your buck. Muscle requires energy to maintain whereas fat does not. In other words, the more muscle you have, the easier it becomes to lose fat or stay lean. 

Compound movements are a great way to build muscle mass and target multiple muscle groups at the same time. As you can imagine, a deadlift will burn significantly more calories during and after your workout than a bicep curl while also targeting various muscle groups rather than just one.

3. Develop Back Muscles

If your back and shoulders are wide, your love handles become less apparent. In other words, even if you do carry a bit of fat in certain areas, having a bit of muscle in the right places can make a huge visual impact on your physique.

4. Cardiovascular Exercises

Cardio is a great tool for fat reduction. And our best advice is simply – walk every day. You burn both fat and carbs when you exercise. And the proportions vary with the intensity. 

A study by the University of Texas Medical Branch showed that peripheral lipolysis was stimulated maximally at the lowest exercise intensity which is walking and fatty acid decreased with increasing intensity. This means walking gets rid of more fat stores compared to moderate or high-intensity training.

5. High-Intensity Interval Training

If you want not only to get rid of love handles but also develop and gain your core muscles, HIIT is the best way for you.

One study divided participants into three groups: a strength group that included lifting weights, an endurance group doing cardio, and a strength and endurance group that did both. 

They concluded that simultaneously training for strength and endurance will result in a reduced capacity to develop strength. In other words, doing cardio limits your resistance exercise

Further research confirms that you simply won’t gain as much lean body mass if you do too much cardio. According to studies, high-intensity interval training has been shown to be just as effective as steady-state cardio at burning calories but also far more time efficient.

HIIT Workout

If you want to burn the same amount of calories in a fraction of the time without hindering your ability to build muscle, here’s the HIIT routine we recommend:

  1. Start by performing as many burpees as possible for 30 seconds immediately followed by 10 reps of hanging leg raises to target the lower abs;
  2. Rest for 60 seconds and repeat.

Another combination would be as follows:

  1. Perform 15 jump squats followed by 30 seconds of mountain climbers;
  2. Rest for 30 to 60 seconds and then repeat.

Perform these circuits for 6 to 10 rounds and gradually work your way up from there.

Doing rounds like this will not only develop your core and your conditioning, but it’ll burn a ton of calories making it far easier to reach that calorie deficit without doing hours of cardio each week.

6. Find an Active Hobby

If you’re not a fan of walking, jogging, or running, then it’s time to explore your options. You may want to consider cycling, indoor soccer, boxing, yoga, or hiking. The key is to find something that you actually enjoy, so it feels less like exercise and more like a hobby.

7. Sleep

If you truly want to achieve pure fat loss, you simply have to pay more attention to how much sleep you’re getting. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night for young adults and adults seeking general health and well-being. 

Lack of Sleep Can Affect Fat Metabolism

Many studies have shown that sleep deprivation whether due to insomnia, untreated sleep apnea, or other disorders commonly leads to metabolic dysregulation. 

Sleeping less may disrupt your circadian rhythm leading to weight gain. And extra time spent awake may increase the opportunities to eat as well.

Here is our tip to improve your sleep habits and assist with losing love handles.

Keep a Regular Schedule of Sleeping

Set an alarm on your phone to start your sleeping routine which includes stopping work or any activities that could lead to stress, turning off all the lights, setting a cold temperature in your room, and reading a book before bed if necessary.

8. Hire an Expert

One study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that supervised exercise under a qualified fitness instructor leads to larger decreases in body weight than unsupervised. 

The difference in weight loss was almost 12 pounds in just 4 months. That could be the difference between losing a few pounds and finally losing those unwanted love handles.

9. Weigh Yourself Daily

Your weight will fluctuate on a daily basis due to a number of factors. For example, you may have drank a bit more water, consumed more sodium, had your last meal a bit later, or simply gotten less sleep. This is why weighing yourself once per week is not ideal.

You should be weighing yourself daily under the same circumstances and then getting the average weight at the end of the week.

If the average is going up, this means you’re in a calorie surplus and should either reduce your calorie intake or increase your physical activity. If the average remains the same, this means you’re at maintenance. However, if the average is going down, this means you’re in a calorie deficit. In this case, we recommend keeping things the same as you continue to track your weight daily. 

10. Be Consistent

All good things take time. Losing love handles, belly fat, or any fat in general takes time. Just do these small little steps each and every single day with good diligence and you will see results.

If you’re a beginner, training 3-4 times a week is ideal. Doing full-body splits would maximize your gains allowing you to adequately stimulate your muscles for growth. Also, it will give you enough time to recover from your workout routine

If you fall in between being an intermediate to an experienced trainee, you may be better suited for a 5-day split such as a full-body or upper/lower, push/pull, legs. If you’re doing 6 days, a push/pull/legs and repeat split is perfect.

As you keep seeing progress with the loss of your love handles, you can control the rate of your fat loss by either decreasing your calories or increasing your expenditure.

Foods that make you lose weight
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Our 6 Nutrition Tips to Get Rid of Love Handles

1. A Calorie Deficit

In order to lose weight, you need to establish a calorie deficit. To accomplish this, you must be burning more calories than you’re consuming. Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, paleo, or keto, what really matters is that you’re in a negative energy balance.

2. Intermittent Fasting

Follow intermittent fasting. It is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. A popular method is the 16-8 method which means you fast for 16 hours and eat in an 8-hour window period. For example, if you’re basically skipping breakfast and having a late lunch at 2 p.m., your last meal will be at 10 p.m. 

This strategy works because you have to eat in a smaller window. This does help manage hunger. 

3. A High Protein Diet

A high-protein healthy diet is important because it will promote muscle growth and aid in its recovery which is what we want to achieve. A study indicated that a 40-gram dose of protein resulted in a greater muscle protein synthesis compared to a 20-gram dose.

One study researched the role of protein in satiation. They found that energy from the protein in a sufficient dose has greater effect on satiety than an equivalent amount of energy from carbohydrates or fats in the short term.

The literature reviewed indicates that increasing the protein content of a food is an effective way to deliver enhanced satiety. Over time as you continue to eat more protein, you’ll consequently reduce your overall caloric intake and you’ll also lose those love handles. On top of that, ingestion of food protein boosts metabolism.

4. Divide

Fill half your plate with vegetables. The other half of the plate should consist of 1/4 lean protein and 1/4 carbs. Eating many vegetables not only helps fill you up and keeps you full for a prolonged period of time, but it also does so with virtually no additional calories.

5. Replace Any Liquid Calories

Replace any liquid calories such as juice or soda with water. If you’re currently consuming 300 to 500 calories from juice or soda, that simple adjustment could be all you need to take you from maintenance calories to a small deficit.

6. Supplementation

Although this plays a minor role in body recomposition, using supplementation can impact your weight loss results.

Whey Protein

A high-quality well-absorbed whey protein is very useful for hitting your targeted daily protein goals. Its benefits extend to the benefits of increased protein intake in general such as augmenting muscle gain during strength training, limiting muscle loss during low-fat diets, and modestly limiting fat gain during periods of excessive caloric intake.


They’re extremely popular and well-researched sports drinks. They can contain a combination of ingredients that increases muscular endurance, improves blood flow to the muscles, and even enhances focus. 

Slim girl measures her waist
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How to Get Rid of Love Handles: FAQs

Can love handles go away completely?

Love handles can go away completely if you follow a balanced diet and exercise routine. As you walk more and follow our tips every week, you’ll see the layers of your fat peel off. And as you get deeper into the deficit and start walking more, you’ll see more of your lower abs and your love handles being revealed.

How do you lose love handles fast?

Don’t eat very little calories and don’t start immediately with 20,000 steps. Start walking maybe at 8,000 steps a day. The following week, increase your steps and over time work your way to 13,000 – 20,000 steps.


Julien Raby is the owner of BoxLife. He owns a bachelor in literature and a certificate in marketing from Concordia. He's Crossfit Level 1 certified and has been involved in Crossfit since 2010. In 2023 he finally made it to Crossfit Open Quarterfinals for the first time. LinkedIn Instagram Facebook

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