What are the best exercises for replacing unsightly love handles with a tight trim waist?

If you hate your love handles, I have exercises that will get rid of them. 

You don’t need to do any waist exercises to get rid of those awful love handles.

Love handles can kill an otherwise good physique. “There ain’t nothin’ to love about love handles.”

To get rid of love handles, stop the side bends this instant. These are a waste of time, and may even thicken your waist if you use heavy weights held in your hands.

To get rid of love handles, you must do exercises that fire up your body’s fat-burning system.

What exercises burn the most fat? Any exercise that causes the body to burn fat at an accelerated rate for hours after the exercise has stopped!

Two types of exercise come to mind: High intensity interval training (HIIT), and intense strength training.


HIIT is cardio-based (e.g., running, stepping, hill dashing, cycling) and forces your body to raid fat stores for hours after the workout.

HIIT is so punishing that your body’s energy requirements for recovery cause stored body fat to get burned up as recovery fuel.

HIIT involves alternating very brief, all-out effort (speed, pedal revolutions, pedal resistance, hills) with one to several minutes of casual pacing. Aim for six to eight all-out intervals per session.

Strength Training

Intense strength training can take the form of lifting to “muscle failure,” that is, to the point where your muscles feel on fire, or are “burning.”

This should be accomplished within 8-12 repetitions. Rest in between may be up to two minutes. However, rests as little as 45 seconds will result in more fat-burning.


The more your body is forced to burn fat for recovery fuel, the more fat will be removed from your waist, and hence, love handles will disappear if you stick to these kinds of workouts, plus sensible eating.

Another way that lifting weights intensely will cause massive fat-burning, is if you do a lot of multi-joint routines.

These hit several muscle groups at once. An example would be holding a 35-pound weight plate to your chest while simultaneously doing walking lunges.

Dumbbell pushup rows with dumbbells assaults practically the entire body, and will burn lots of fat wherever you have it. If you can’t do these, then train for them; the training will burn loads of fat.

Have excess fat in your waist? It will get eaten up by muscles that are exhausted from compound (multi-joint) routines, which also include squats, leg presses, bench presses and lat pull-downs.

What else will get rid of love handles? Jumping routines (plyometrics). I don’t mean jumping jacks; this is endurance. I mean jumping drills that are power-based!

Shutterstock/Vadim Martynenko

This includes jumping up steps, over boxes or benches; jumping onto them and off; straddle jumps on benches, stools or boxes; and things like squat jumps and jump lunges switching legs.

Plyometrics are done quickly and explosively. This will trigger fat-burning.

Forget the side bends. You’ll be wasting time. These will never get rid of love handles because this exercise targets waist muscles, which are too small and naturally weak to trigger optimal fat-burning.

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 



Top image: Shutterstock/Sinelev