5 love handle workouts

Love handle workouts to tone up at home or in the gym

Image shows person doing love handle workouts
(Image credit: Getty)

Looking for love handle workouts? You’ve come to the right place. These types of workouts target a particular group of muscles called the obliques, which are on the side of the abdominal area.

If you are looking to lose fat, then toning love handle workouts won’t do the trick – you will need to target the fat first because it’s a myth that you can reduce fat with exercise in one specific area. You can target your obliques through toning exercises, but fat is lost through cardio, strength training, and diet (check out the best protein powders for weight loss).

If you’re looking to tone your love handles, we’ve spoken to a fitness expert who recommends some exercises for you to try.

What are love handles?

Love handles are another name for the excess fat that sits at the sides of the waist and hangs over the top of pants. Also known as a muffin top, this area can be a sensitive subject for many. However, love handles are not dangerous in themselves nor are they anything to be ashamed of.

NASM-certified personal trainer Mollie Munro sees many clients looking to get rid of their love handles. “I tell my clients that love handles are nothing to stress about. Everyone carries weight in different areas of the body. For some, it’s the waist, other’s it’s the legs. Love handles are nothing to be embarrassed about, but if you want to try to trim them down, I’m happy to help.”

Munro continues, “The entire core helps to keep us balanced and the obliques – the area we refer to as love handles – play an important role. They’re the muscles that run along the sides of the waist, from the ribs to the hip bones, and are important muscles for twisting and turning movements. There's less of a chance of lower back strain if you have strong obliques that can help support your body through twisting or turning.”

5 love handle workouts

Munro recommends gradually improving your lifestyle habits, incorporating exercise and mindful eating practices to help with love handles (check out the best exercise machines to lose weight). “While spot fat reduction around the waistline is not possible, a combination of cardiovascular exercises and resistance training may aid weight loss. Exercises that target the obliques can help improve muscle tone and the look of love handles. These exercises will also improve your posture, balance and help keep your back safe from injury.”

Munro suggests regular circuits of the following love handle workouts to help sculpt your hips; you need minimal equipment, just some hand weights, and a kettlebell.

  • Woodchoppers
  • Bicycle crunches 
  • Side planks 
  • Russian twists 
  • Overhead kettlebell swing 

Love handle workouts: Woodchoppers

Woodchoppers will not get rid of your love handles by themselves, but they will sculpt the muscles lying below them.

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart with your weight on your left leg using one hand weight. 
  • Start by holding the weight in both hands up by your left shoulder. 
  • Next, twist to make a chopping motion down towards your right hip. 
  • Allow your feet and knees to pivot with the twist. 
  • Raise the weight back up to your left shoulder and repeat for 20 reps. 
  • Repeat on your right side. 

Love handle workouts: Bicycle crunches

Bicycle crunches are great for working your obliques. However, they should be done slowly and steadily to engage your core and side muscles to their fullest. 

  • Lie on your back with hands behind your head and knees bent.
  • Lift shoulders and head off the floor and engage your abs. At the same time, lift feet off the floor, keeping knees bent so your shins are parallel to the floor. 
  • Slowly twist your body, so the left elbow moves toward the right knee and extend the left leg straight. 
  • Slowly twist in the other direction, bringing the left leg back to its bent position and moving the right elbow toward the left knee. As you turn, extend your right leg in front of you. 
  • That’s one rep; repeat for 30 reps. 

Image shows woman doing love handle workouts

(Image credit: Getty)

Love handle workouts: Side planks

“Side planks primarily target the obliques, but they also work the whole side of the body including the shoulders, core, and hips,” says Munro.

The basic side plank looks like this:

  • Lie on your side and prop yourself up on one arm. Make sure your elbow is in line with the shoulder. Your forearm should be flat against the floor, at a right angle to your body. 
  • Stack your legs one on top of the other, so your body forms a straight line from head to hip.  
  • Take a deep breath. With your knee still touching the floor, raise your hips. 
  • Squeeze your butt and hold the position for 30 seconds. Focus on keeping abs tight to help support your body. 
  • Switch sides and repeat. 

Image shows man doing love handle workouts

(Image credit: Getty)

Love handle workouts: Russian twists

Munro says Russian twists may look like a simple movement, but they require a lot of strength. 

  • Sit on your butt with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Your torso should be leaning back at a 45 angle to the floor. Hold a dumbbell with both hands. 
  • Lift your feet from the ground, crossing them at the ankles and balancing on your butt. 
  • Twist your torso to the right and touch your dumbbell to the ground from this position. 
  • Next, twist back over to the left, touching the weight to the left side of your body. 
  • Breathe steadily and deeply. Exhale with each twist, and inhale to return to the center. 
  • Repeat back and forth for 15 repetitions on each side, all while balancing with your legs and torso raised off the ground. 

Image shows woman using kettlebell for love handle workouts

(Image credit: Getty)

Love handle workouts: Overhead kettlebell swing

Munro says a kettlebell swing can be a great way to target love handles.  

  • Put your feet shoulder-width apart with the kettlebell between them, slightly in front of you. 
  • Grab the handle with both hands and squat with your hips back. 
  • Hike the kettlebell back toward your butt (it should stop a little behind your knees). 
  • Keeping your back flat and your arms straight, immediately stand up and press your hips forward, swinging the kettlebell upward until it's overhead. 
  • As the bell begins to arc back down, bend your knees and squat, swinging it between your legs. 
  • Do 15 reps. 

Catherine is a freelance journalist writing across titles such as Verywell Health, Healthline, The Daily Telegraph, Refinery29, Elle, and Vogue. She specializes in content covering health, fitness, wellness, and culture.
A once reluctant runner, Catherine has competed in 30 running events in the past five years and looks forward to one day running the London Marathon.