Love handles may sound (and feel) warm and delicious, but for most people, it's one of the hardest places to lose weight.
The term itself, used as a slang term to describe belly fat, wasn't popular until the 1960s when abdominal exercises began targeting these particular areas, says personal fitness trainer Kyla Gagnon of Inside Out Fitness based in Victoria, B.C.
Love handles are deposits of excess body fat that sit around your abdominal area, and most of us can pinch our belly fat from the front, back and sides. And it's not just about fitting into that dress or your favourite pair of jeans — excessive fat can also hurt your health. According to an article by Robert Glatter for Forbes, where you store your fat may increase your risk of developing diabetes or heart disease. Another study showed that larger BMIs increased the risk of obesity, according to Statistics Canada.
But physically losing those love handles won't actually get rid of any fat.
"Working the area with exercises will not get rid of the excess fat. What it will do is strengthen the muscles underneath the fat, which is important," Gagnon tells The Huffington Post Canada.
Instead, Gagnon says strengthening these areas and burning fats starts with the food on your plate. Avoid sugars, salts and unhealthy fats, and add fresh fruits, vegetables, good fats (like raw seeds or avocado) and lean clean proteins to your diet instead. Nutritionist Joy Bauer says that most diets are 90 per cent nutrition and 10 per cent exercise (or 10 per cent fun foods, as Bauer would say).
Ready to get started? Remember, always go at your own pace and incorporate weights only when you are comfortable.
Here are Gagnon's 10 exercises to lose those love handles:
Laying flat on your back with your hands by your ears, elevate your legs to a 90-degree angle, says personal fitness trainer Kyla Gagnon based in Victoria, B.C. Next, bring your left knee towards your chest and twist your right elbow to meet it. Repeat this on the other side. Also, as you bring one leg in, stretch the other one straight out.
Begin in a seated position with bended knees and flat feet. Lean back slightly with a strong straight back and get into a comfortable position, contracting your ab muscles. Stretch your arms out in front of you and twist the torso from side to side. For more intensity, tap the floor to the right of your hip and then the left side.
To further increase difficulty, lift your feet off the floor or use a weighted medicine ball in your hands.
Plank Knee Drive:
In either the low (elbows touching the ground) or high plank, bring your right knee out and try to touch your right elbow. Gagnon suggests doing 10 to 15 reps per leg to start and always remember to bring your body back into the original plank position before the "drive."
Side Plank Hip Dips:
Another variation of the plank exercise, start in a side plank position with your elbows touching the ground. Drop your hips to touch the floor as you inhale and exhale while bringing them back up. Gagnon suggest 10 to 15 times per side.
Using one arm, either your forearm or your hand, line it up beneath your armpit and stack your feet on top of one another. Ideally, you want to create a “T” shape with your body.
Stability Ball Plank:
Using a stability ball, place your elbows and forearms on the ball. After you regain your balance, try to hold a plank position for two to five minutes.
Again, in a low or high plank, use an elevated surface like a bench, step or ball, and continue holding your plank for two to five minutes.
High Plank From The Hands:
Get your body into a push-up position but hold it up. Place your hands directly beneath your armpits and keep your legs straight. Gagnon adds that your belly button should be sucked up into your spine, creating a strong flat back.
Low Plank From Elbows:
Place your elbows and forearms on the floor beneath your armpits and lift your body off the floor with your legs straight. Hold this position for one to three minutes.
Stay with your legs shoulder-width apart and slightly bend your knees into a squat position. Using a kettleball or weights, bring your weights in front of you with your arms forward and bring them back slowly.