How Do I Get Rid of Love Handles?

Please tell me what exercise to do to get rid of those love handles on my hips and sides of my stomach that hang over the sides of my jeans. You ladies know where I'm talking about.

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Sorry, but you can't magically make those "love handles" disappear. The belief that you can somehow spot reduce (selectively zap fat from an offending area of your body) is a persistent misconception among exercisers. If only you COULD spot reduce! Then doing thousands of sit-ups would melt away your spare tire. But as many have found out the hard way, this approach simply won't work. Specific exercises will not result in loss of body fat from specific areas. Period.

 

"Problem areas" are just genetically determined places on an individual's body where excess fat tends to be stored. The only way to lose fat deposited on any area of the body is to reduce the overall level of fat storage. Sensible eating habits designed to reduce calorie intake and regular exercise designed to burn off excess calories will help reduce overall body-fat stores. Here's the best, if not the most earth-shattering, approach to getting a handle on those love handles:

 

  1. Try to maintain a consistent schedule that includes 30-45 minutes of aerobic exercise 3-4 times a week or more. In addition, doing a total-body strength-training routine twice a week will increase your lean body composition, which will help you burn more calories even when you're at rest. This in turn will further enable you to reduce your overall fat stores, including those love handles, saddlebags, etc. As for diet, eat five or six small, low-fat meals a day to keep your blood sugar steady and your metabolism stoked and to prevent cravings and pig-outs.
     
  2. You can also improve the overall appearance of your waist by spot TRAINING to tone the muscles underneath the fat deposits. Doing 2-5 abdominal exercises twice a week will adequately train those muscles so they become visible as you lose total body fat. Do 8-15 repetitions per set; move slowly and deliberately so you really feel every rep. Here are a few you might want to try:
     

Basic crunch: Works the rectus abdominis, the wide flat muscle that runs from your breastbone to the top of your pelvis.

  • Lie on the floor with your feet hip-width apart. Cradle your head in your hands without lacing your fingers together and with your elbows rounded slightly inward. Tilt your chin a small way towards your chest and pull your abdominal muscles in.
     
  • Exhale through your mouth as you curl your head, neck, and shoulders up off the floor. Hold at the top of the movement for a moment, then inhale as you slowly lower down.
     

Twist crunch: This exercise works your rectus abdominis as well as your internal and external obliques, two muscle groups that wrap around your waist.

  • Same as the basic crunch
     
  • Exhale through your mouth and curl your head, neck, and shoulders up and towards the left. Hold at the top of the movement, then lower to the start. Twist to the right on the next rep, and continue alternating until you complete the set. Note: Don't just twist your elbows from side to side. Really concentrate on twisting from your middle.
     

Anchoring: This exercise uses all of your abdominal muscles, including the deep, underlying transverse abdominis. Your lower back also gets a workout.

  • Lie on your back with your left foot on the floor. Lift up your right leg and bend your knee so that your thigh is perpendicular to the floor and directly in line with your hip; flex your heel. Raise your arms up over your chest and clasp your fingers together.
     
  • Slowly lower your heel and your arms towards the floor. As you do so, concentrate on keeping your abs pulled inward, and don't allow your lower back to pop up off the floor. This becomes harder the closer your heel and hands move towards the floor. When your heel has almost touched the floor, slowly return your arms and leg to the start. Repeat this exercise four times with your right leg, then four times with your left.
     

But remember: Doing hundreds and hundreds of crunches, sit-ups and so forth will not reduce the fat stored in the abdominal region. You'll achieve better results by doing the aerobic exercise and a total body, strength-training routine, targeting your middle with strength-training exercises and following the eating tips described above.

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