Jowls are cute on hound dogs, but not so much when they appear around your own jawline. As frustrating as they can be, surgery is the only way to get rid of them quickly and completely. Although some people advocate doing specific exercises to tighten the area around the jaw and neck, there's no concrete evidence that they work. Exercises that help you lose face fat are more likely to make a difference.
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Facial Exercises for Jowls
There are a lot of humorous viral videos on the internet showing people contorting their faces in all kinds of ways to purportedly repair wrinkles and saggy skin. Some of the exercises "guaranteed" to tighten your jawline include:
- Yawning. Open your mouth wide as if yawning; then slowly close it to a count of 20 without letting your upper and lower teeth touch.
- Cow face. Relax your face and jaw and allow your mouth to open slightly. Jut out your lower jaw and overlap your lower front teeth over your upper front teeth. Extend your right arm overhead, turn your head to the left and look up at the ceiling. Stay for 10 seconds; then relax.
- Baby bird. Lean your head back to look up at the ceiling. Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth, and turn your head to the left while swallowing. Next, turn your head to the right while swallowing again.
By all means, if you have the extra time, try these exercises and see if they work for you. However, according to a 2014 research review in Aesthetic Surgery Journal that examined results of several facial exercises studies, it's unlikely that you'll gain any benefit.
Your Other Options
In many cases, jowls are caused by excess fat. Fat collects underneath the skin and leads to the appearance of a saggy jawline — often accompanied by a double chin. Losing body fat could shrink the fat stores in your face and make your jawline more defined.
If you also have extra fat around the midsection, on the backs of the arms, or around the hips and thighs in addition to jowls, this is a good clue that extra fat stores are causing fatty deposits elsewhere on your body too. Shifting your body composition can help you slim your face and your other "problem" areas as well.
If you are at a healthy or "ideal" weight, you may still benefit from reaching a lower body fat percentage. According to fat loss expert and author Michael Matthews, some people may need to achieve a pretty low body fat percentage to see more definition in their facial features, including a more defined jawline.
How Low Can You Go?
Michael Matthews also notes that men need to get to 10 percent body fat and women need to get to 20 percent body fat to see noticeable changes in their facial features. For men, that body fat percentage falls into the "athletic" category, and for women that falls into the "good" body fat category. Both are healthy and achievable goals.
When you reach those body fat percentage goals, you'll see definition in your face and potentially smaller jowls, and you'll also see definition in other areas of your body. Your ab muscles will be more noticeable and the muscles in your arms and legs will pop out more. If you really want to reduce your jowls, you'll be rewarded with these other benefits for your hard work.
Exercises to Get Lean
The most important part of getting lean is your diet, so before you even step into the gym, make a plan to eat healthier and reduce your calorie intake if necessary. You can't lose body fat if you're not eating a healthy diet with the correct number of calories.
Exercise is the other part of the equation. The best exercises to get lean and lose face fat include moderate to high-intensity cardio activities and resistance training.
Cardio burns calories while you're doing it. Along with a reduced-calorie diet, cardio helps you create a calorie deficit so that your body begins to dip into its fat stores for energy. Cardio is any exercise you do for a prolonged period of time that keeps your heart rate up and makes you sweat.
You can't target your jowls specifically with weight training, but it's still key to changing your body composition. Having lean muscle mass turns your body into a calorie- and fat-burning machine. That's because the more muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolism.
Cardio Exercises to Lose Face Fat
You'll get a lot of benefit from doing any type of cardio, whether you enjoy long, slow runs, hiking or sprinting on the track. You can burn a significant amount of calories running, riding the elliptical machine or the stationary bike at a moderate pace for 30 minutes.
But if you want to get the most bang for your buck in the shortest time, you need to push the intensity up a little. That's where high-intensity interval training (HIIT) comes in. According to Matthews, HIIT is the most time-efficient and effective way to significantly increase fat loss.
There are a lot of ways to include HIIT in your workouts. All it entails is alternating periods of intense, all-out effort with periods of recovery at a slower pace. This makes your heart rate skyrocket and keeps it higher throughout your workout than it would be in a longer, slower type of workout.
You can do intervals while you're running by sprinting for 30 seconds, then recovering for 30 seconds to one minute before sprinting again. You can take a spinning class, which often includes interval training, and you can combine your cardio and resistance training into one by doing circuit training, an exercise method in which you perform various exercises consecutively.
The Best Weightlifting Exercises
Just as doing cardio at a high intensity gets better results, the same is true for lifting weights. The best weightlifting exercises for losing face fat are compound exercises. Compound lifts recruit multiple large muscle groups at a time, so you can get more done in less time. They also burn more calories while you are doing them than isolation exercises such as biceps curls.
The compound exercises that make up your workouts should include:
- Dead lifts.
- Military presses.
- Bench presses.
Start out by learning the movements; then add weight. You should gradually work up to lifting heavy weights that you can only lift for 12 or fewer reps. The more you load your muscles, the more results you'll see in terms of muscle gain and fat loss.
Aim to target each of your muscle groups two or three times a week. You can do two or three total-body workouts or train your upper body twice a week and your lower body twice a week. Some people prefer to do other splits, such as chest, shoulders, triceps one day, back and biceps another day, and legs on the third day.
Patience Is Key
As you do these exercises, you might see definition in your thighs and arms before you see any reduction in your jowls. That's because where you lose fat first is an individual matter that has a lot to do with genetics. If your face tends to hold onto fat more than other areas of your body, it may take longer for your jowls to shrink. But if you stay consistent with your diet and exercise program, you will start to see changes in your facial features.
Read more: Will Losing Weight Reduce Jowls?
- Aesthetic Surgery Journal: The Effectiveness of Facial Exercises for Facial Rejuvenation: A Systematic Review
- Lavender & Stone: Sagging Jowls? – How Exercise Can Help!
- Muscle for Life: The “Secret” to Losing Your Face Fat and Double Chin
- Human Kinetics: Normal Ranges of Body Weight and Body Fat
- University of New Mexico: Controversies in Metabolism
- Bodybuilding.com: Compound Vs. Isolated Exercises: Making an Effective Training Program
- TechnoGym: Circuit Training Benefits