Unfortunately there's no magical side belly fat workout. If you want a sculpted, narrow waist, you can't crunch your way there. According to the American Council on Exercise, spot reduction is a fitness myth, and isolated strength exercises can't help you lose fat.
However, cardio exercise does burn off enough calories to get rid of excess weight, no matter where on your body it may be — as long as you don't consume those extra calories in your diet. To get a defined waist and a slimmer, streamlined stomach, combine regular cardio with exercises for your obliques.
Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Fat Loss
Cardio Exercises for Side Fat
According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, healthy adults should perform 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week to maintain a healthy weight. You'll likely need to aim higher than those recommendations to lose overall body weight with your love handle workouts.
You can do any kind of cardio you choose, including biking, hiking, swimming, jogging or even brisk walking. Keep in mind that more intense exercises burn more calories, so you may lose weight faster if you can incorporate tougher activities into your workouts.
Cut Back on Calories
For many, cutting back on the number of calories you eat may help to reduce overall body fat and trim your middle. According to an article by Dr. Donald Hensrud, a preventive medicine specialist with Mayo Clinic, reducing calories is more effective for weight loss than exercise alone, although the two strategies work best in concert.
If your belly is one of the most prominent areas on your body with extra weight, it should begin to show positive results within several weeks of starting a reduced-calorie diet and regular workout plan.
According to Mayo Clinic, 1 pound of fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories. To lose a pound per week through diet alone, you'd need to cut 500 calories per day.
Try Love Handle Workouts
While there aren't any exercises to get rid of love handles fast, you can tone your midsection by strengthening abdominal muscles. Work on strength exercises that target your obliques, the muscles that wrap around your waist. Oblique exercises also challenge abs and your core, helping to shape and tone your entire midsection.
Try doing Russian twists while holding a weighted medicine ball, as demonstrated by ExRx.net, or performing standing knee crunches and working on holding side plank poses for as long as you can. Do one or two sets of each strength exercise several times per week in addition to your "small waist" workout.
Read more: 20 Fat-Loss Secrets
Track Your Progress
Keep track of your results as you follow your routine. Before you begin, take your hip and waist measurements, take a clear photograph of your waist area and weigh yourself. Take the same measurements after every two weeks of following your plan, and take a new photo as well.
You'll likely begin to notice changes within three to four weeks. If you can't see any positive differences after about six weeks, speak with your physician about the possibility of adjusting your plan.
- Mayo Clinic: "Weight Loss — Better to Cut Calories or Exercise More?"
- American Council on Exercise: "Myths and Misconceptions: Spot Reduction and Feeling the Burn"
- Department of Health & Human Services: "Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition"
- Mayo Clinic: "Counting Calories: Get Back to Weight-Loss Basics"
- ExRx.net: "Medicine Ball Russian Twist"