It’s okay to hate your love handles; here’s how to get rid of them: No gimmicks, nothing fancy; just research-proven approaches that will shrink that unbecoming pudge in your waist.

When I was a personal trainer, men and women would grab a mushy area at the side of their waist and ask, “How do I get rid of THIS?”

My standard answer was, “Slam your legs!”

This always threw them for a loop, because they were expecting the answer to be some form of stomach-targeting exercise.

Now before I go on further, I want to clarify that proper diet is important for getting rid of your love handles — that excess fat that shows prominently from a front or back view of a person’s waist.

However, there are people who control their portions and have a reasonably healthful diet — but still struggle with that love handle look.

They’re not doing the right kind of workout. They’re not slamming their legs — which have the biggest muscles in the body.

It’s simple: Do intense workouts focusing on the legs, and secondarily on the largest muscles of the upper body (back and chest), and you will create a major energy deficit.

These large muscle groups will then be forced to raid the excess fat all over your body — including where it may be disproportionately stored, such as the waistline.

Waist Targeting Exercise Will not Rid Love Handles

Waist exercises such as side bends or swiveling against resistance do not shave off fat because the muscles that control waist movement are small and weak, and thus, require much less energy than your quads or glutes.

Here are several routines that increase resting metabolic rate and force muscles to soak up stored body fat for energy.

Barbell Squat

Barbell squats work multiple muscle groups at once, which means this is a major calorie burner — both during and after the routine.

The back squat. Shutterstock/B-Media

However, these must be done intensely to help shear off fat. Form is very important before you progress upward in amount of weight.

Once you have developed base conditioning for this exercise, use a weight heavy enough to blast your legs within 8-12 reps. If you can do more than 12 reps, then increase the weight.

The goal is to squat low enough so that your thighs are parallel to the floor. If you can’t, then lighten the load until you can squat parallel.


Though this is a simple movement, it also demands textbook form. Like the back squat, mastering form is essential before progressing with resistance.

Pick a barbell off the floor, keeping arms straight, always keeping your hips below your shoulders, and straighten into an erect position.

The deadlift recruits nearly every major muscle group: what a fat raiding exercise!

Deadlift. Shutterstock/sportpoint

Some say an 8-12 rep max for the deadlift is ideal for burning fat, while others say a 5-8 rep max is less likely to result in a form break. Do what works best for you.


High intensity interval training can be applied to all cardio equipment.

The work interval lasts 30-60 seconds and is so intense, you can’t go one second longer.

These are alternated with one to three minutes of recovery intervals which are a relaxing, easy pace.


Do these alternations for 20-30 minutes, excluding warmup and cool-down. The end of each work interval should leave you too winded to talk.

Another way to measure intensity is with perceived exertion on a scale of 1 to 10. Level 1 feels like relaxing in a recliner.

Level 10 feels like trying to sprint 100 meters up a hill with a mountain lion in pursuit.

A HIIT interval should rate around a 9 for experienced exercisers; and 7-8 for novices.

Interval training can also be done outdoors or on staircases.

Exercises You’d Never Think of to Rid Your Love Handles

Sled work and the tire flip will quickly exhaust you — which is the whole idea. Short bursts of intense energy are much more effective at getting rid of love handles than are lengthy, paced aerobic sessions.

In between brief periods of pushing a sled or flipping a tire, rest a minute or two by walking around; then repeat for four to six sets.


Shutterstock/Africa Studio

The sled push or pull, and flipping a tire, engage many major muscle groups including the legs.

Ditch the side twists, side bends and boring long sessions of cardio for the exercises described here.

With controlled eating habits, you will then notice your love handles disappearing.

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.