If you’re not in love with your muffin top, use this easy guide to amp up your cardio to burn those fat pockets and sculpt the muscles that lie beneath.
They’re called cutesy names such as muffin tops and love handles, but let’s face it, no one loves the roll of flab that pops over the waistband of your jeans and ruins the sleek line of fitness clothes, clingy sweaters, and tailored shirts.
“Love handles are one of the most common reasons people exercise and hire a personal trainer,” observes certified trainer Jason Keigher CSCS, CPT, who works with clients in New York City. It’s often after an ab workout consisting of thousands of crunches that frustration finally leads people to get help from a fitness pro.
“Most people think that doing crunches will get rid of love handles, but they are misinformed,” Keigher says. When done properly, crunches do tone muscles, but the problem is, love handles don’t contain an ounce of muscle. They’re fat, and to burn fat you need a healthy diet and a rigorous cardiovascular program, he explains.
Work your body correctly, and you will certainly see results, says Sylvia Nasser, a certified personal trainer on Long Island, N.Y. Read on to learn how to trim the fat.
1. Stress Busting:
The poor stress is blamed for almost all our problems in life. But of all the many things it is guilty of, fat, and specifically love handles, also make it to that list. Have you ever heard of Cortisol? It is a steroid hormone that is produced by our body when we are stressed. No prizes for guessing thatas it is one nasty hormone. Love handles are just one of the many health issues it can cause.
Plan your day out, schedule, and stick to schedules. Practice yoga. Breathe! Well, basically, just unwind and chill out. When you are calm, you are surely reducing the probability of gaining that fat.
2. Sleep- A- Thon:
In this mad race for life, we often undermine the importance of sleep. A good 6 to 8 hours of sleep heals every part of the body, and yes, you do lose weight when you sleep. And losing weight means losing those love handles too!
3. Drink Up & Drink Down:
Make sure you drink at least 8 glasses of water everyday. Water literally washes out the impurities and dilutes the fat. It might be slow, but it plays a big role in eliminating fat.
On the other hand, minimize consumption of alcohol and sugary drinks. You will notice that you instantly bloat when you have alcohol. Try to cut down sugary and aerated drinks completely, and as for alcohol, limit your intake to just 2 drinks a week and see the difference.
4. The Food Story:
You are what you eat! And it is for you to decide who you want to be, and you definitely don’t want to be fat!
Make sure to have meals at regular intervals. Eat many meals (but small meals), and make sure you don’t eat after 8:00 pm.
Include a whole lot of fruits and veggies in your diet. They are packed with essential nutrients. Healthy proteins and fats are very important for weight loss. Don’t forget whole grains and fiberif you want to have a balanced diet.
Eat clean home cooked meals as much as you possibly can, and try to completely eliminate processed foods (Super Unhealthy!).
Now that we’ve got the basics covered, here are a few love-handle specific exercises that are simple and easy!
5.1. Bicycle Crunches:
“This exercise will work your internal and external obliques as well as the rectus abdominis [the largest ab muscle],” Keigher says.
- Lie on your back, knees bent.
- Place hands behind your head without interlacing your fingers. Lift your head slightly.
- Twist so that your left elbow goes toward your right knee while you extend your left leg.
- Pull your leg back in and extend the other leg, twisting so that your right elbow goes toward your left knee.
- Build up to 3 sets of 25 reps each.
5.2. Standing Trunk Twists
- Stand with your feet about hip-width apart.
- Keep hips and legs facing forward as you twist to the right, extending your left arm out (like a punch) to the right.
- Twist in the opposite direction (left), extending your right arm out in a punch to the left.
- Aim for 100 repetitions.
5.3. Lying Leg Twist
- Lie on your back with your arms stretched out to the sides, hands flat on your mat.
- Lift legs and bend knees so that your calves are parallel to the floor and your thighs form a 90-degree angle with your torso.
- Lower both legs together to one side so that your outer right thigh touches the ground on the right side, maintaining the 90-degree angle.
- Return them to center and then lower to the other side so that your outer left thigh touches the ground.
- Build up to 3 sets of 25 reps each.
5.4. Side Planks: “This exercise strengthens your core, in the front and the back,” Nasser explains.
- Lie down on your right side, leaning on your elbow.
- Extend your legs out straight, with your feet stacked. The edge of your right foot should be on the floor.
- Use your core to hold your body up in a straight line (you can modify it by putting your right knee down on the floor if you need support). Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, or longer if you can.
- Lower yourself fully to the floor and switch sides.
- For added challenge, lift the top leg and hold it up so that it is not touching the bottom leg.
- Holding each side for about 30 seconds, do four or five reps, and increase as you get stronger.
5.5. Seated Russian Twists
- Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat.
- Hold your arms out in front of you, hands pressed together.
- Lean back about 45 degrees. With a slow, controlled movement, twist to your left side. Return to center, and twist to your right. That’s one rep.
- One full rep should take about 20 seconds. Take a breath and repeat. Start with four to five reps, adding more reps as you get stronger.
- For an added challenge, lift your feet off the floor as you do this exercise.