Gaining a few unwanted pounds is never ideal, especially if it’s around the hips. For many of us, this is the first place fat tends to go on, and the last place to leave. This can make our unwanted muffin tops tricky to get rid of, but not impossible!
Despite what some people say, spot reducing fat is not possible, however, there are still various workout methods that can be used to remove those stubborn love handles. Let’s explore them!
Tightening up the abdominal muscles will not miraculously make your muffin top disappear, or cause you to lose 15 pounds in weight, but it will help, especially when you all the hard work has paid off and you can flaunt your newly toned waist! Let’s take a look at some exercises you can perform from the comfort of your own home.
Bicycle Crunches: Lay on the ground, back flat, with your head and shoulders slightly elevated. Place your hands behind our head. Bring your left leg towards your chest and straighten the right while at the same time twisting your upper body so you reach for your left knee with your right elbow. Repeat with the opposite leg and elbow. Congratulations you just went air bike riding.
Russian Twists: Take a seat on the floor with your feet and butt on the planted, knees bent. Lean back slightly. If you are using weight grab your object and begin to rotate from side to side twisting your torso while tapping the ground either side.
Side Plank Holds: Get onto the floor and position yourself in a side plank position. Make sure to keep your hand underneath your shoulder and 90 degrees to the floor. Hold this position keeping your body in a straight line without allowing your hips to dip.
At the end of your workout, perform the first 2 exercises for 3 sets of 12. Hold the plank for 2 max sets, with 2 minutes rest between.
It’s important to remember that ab workouts should not be the focus of your training program. To really make a dent in those love handles you need to be performing full body routines that incorporate multiple muscle groups, both in the form of cardiovascular and resistance training.
Full Body Resistance Exercises
Incorporating exercises that require the whole body to use multiple muscle groups are great for expending calories and burning fat. The best full body resistance movements are the squat and deadlift. Works the upper and lower body.
Both require a significant amount of muscles to perform, especially around the mid-section, making them perfect at tackling muffin tops.
Try performing back squats twice and deadlifts once per week. Start with a comfortable weight for 5 sets of 10-12. Each session add 2.5kg and keep going till you have to drop the reps, for example, 5 sets of 8. Once you are struggling with a weight for 5 sets of 5, it’s time to reset.
Running & HIIT
Perhaps the king of all calorie burning exercises is running. However, if you find long runs monotonous and boring there are ways to switch it up. Try incorporating high-intensity interval training using shorter distances and sprints, followed by a period of recovery.
Here are a few you can try for yourself.
- 30 second at a moderate pace (75%) right into a 30-second sprint, followed by a 2-minute recovery jog. Repeat for 15 minutes.
- Hold a tough pace (80-90%) for 1 to 3 minutes. Rest for the same amount of time as your run. Repeat for 10 – 20 minutes depending on your fitness and experience level.
Try adding some hill work into your running routine to really burn those calories, dust those shoes off and get running!
High-intensity intervals aren’t limited to runs. You can incorporate these into other sessions from strength training to rowing machine workouts to spark new life into your training. Research has shown HIIT to burn more calories during exercise (Falcone et al.,2015) by up to 25-30% more than other types of training.
Here are a few sessions you can try for yourself;
- 30s on / 30s off: Simple yet effective!
- 3-5 minutes on / 3-5 minutes off: Harder but definitely worth the pain!
These intervals can be performed using a wide range of movements from running and cycling to bodyweight and weightlifting movements. Remember to keep the intensity high and recover as well as you can between efforts!
Did you Know?
More lean muscle mass will increase your resting metabolic rate. This is because muscle uses much more energy at rest than fat. Don’t skimp out on those resistance training sessions else you’ll be missing out on some nice benefits! A mixture of cardio and weight training will provide the best results.
Of course, your muffin top isn’t going anywhere if you maintain poor diet and lifestyle choices. On top of a consistent workout routine try incorporating the following 3 tips to really fast track your results.
Control stress: Stress triggers our body to realise the hormone cortisol. This hormone stimulates a release in insulin, which lowers our blood sugar levels and leads to excessive cravings for foods high in sugar, fat and salt.
Boost fibre: Fiber helps keep us full and suppress our appetite. Research suggests it reduces the hunger hormones in our body
Cut sugar: When we consume sugar, our bodies release insulin. When we consume excess sugar, excess insulin is produced which is then stored in our fat, muscle and liver cells. Once our bodies capacity is reached, the excess sugar begins to convert to fat as future energy storage.
Can't Get Outdoors or To The Gym
If you can't get outdoors or to a gym you can perform many if not most of these exercises at home. Apart from outdoor running of course. But there is a way around this if running or cardio is your thing.
Try high speed running on the spot intervals. This is easy and to mix it up throw in some jumping jacks. Here is a routine you can use at home with 3 exercises that work both strength and cardio.
Don't be fooled these are extremely challenging and will elevate your heart, so warm up with light jogging or some press ups before your start.
- 30 secs of running on the spot- go as fast as you can
- 30 seconds of jumping jacks or star jumps if you prefer to call them. Really keep up the pace here.
- 30 secs of squats- really explode up from the bottom- you are working speed here so go as fast as you can.
- Rest for 30 secsonds
- Rinse and repeat- do the whole set of 3 exercises again. Do 2 sets then gradually work up to 5.
Each week your reps will go up and I guarantee if you take your resting heartbeat in the morning first thing, or before you go to sleep at night, once a week, you will find it will start to lower as your cardiovascular fitness improves. That's also without any fancy pants gym equipment or training gear.
Your strength will also improve as your squat reps increase.Getting fit and strong does not have to be complicated.
If you really like running or working out on machines the Bowflex Max Trainer might be right up your street. It burns 1 and a half times the amount of calories that a treadmill does and over twice as much as an elliptical. See our review here.
Now you have all the knowledge necessary to shed that muffin top for good. There is no better time to start than right now, so keep showing up and keep at it!