Will working my obliques get rid of my love-handles?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Working your obliques will strengthen the muscle that’s under the bothersome tissue that results in your love-handles. While building muscle is integral when it comes to weight loss, the best way to get rid of your love-handles is toeat fewer calories and do more exercise in total. Resistance exercise builds muscle, so you use calories after your workout. And any exercise such as cardio that raises your heart rate also uses calories faster. Keep your heart rate high for at least 30 minutes and if you can (and your doctor gives you the A-OK) go as fast as you can for at least a minute of every 10 during your work out. Keeping your heart rate high causes you to burn more calories per minute and that’s what melts pounds and love handles. Soon, we bet, you’ll be counting down the days to bathing suit season.
Unfortunately, working the obliques will not help you get rid of your love handles.  This thought process plays into a myth known as "spot-reduction" which is centered around the idea that performing exercises for specific muscles will burn body fat in the same area.  While exercises for the obliques may help make them stronger, they will not help make you leaner in the waist.  To get rid of those love handles, focus on proper nutrition and participating in a structured exercise program consisting of resistance and cardiorespiratory training.  Doing so will decrease fat stores throughout the entire body, including the problem areas.  
Dr. Mike Clark, DPT

Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to specifically target where your body is going to lose fat (this is a myth known as spot-reduction). With that said, simply doing exercises solely for the obliques will not make your mid-section leaner and more defined. Getting rid of your love-handles comes down to consuming a diet of nutritious foods that add up to less calories than you burn each day, forcing your body to use stored fat for energy, and incorporating strength training with a total-body focus into your exercise routine. In other words, eat less and move more. To get the biggest benefit from your ab routine, perform a variety of exercises that incorporate not only the abdominal muscles but the rest of the body as well in a circuit, such as the one shown below. Circuits such as this one (that challenge multiple muscle groups) will turn your body into a calorie burning furnace, helping you to get that lean and streamlined mid-section you’re after.

Perform 10-15 repetitions of each of the following exercises in a row without rest (circuit). Depending on your fitness level, repeat up to two more times for a total of 1-3 circuits.

            • Floor Bridge

            [media id="DEV__4c7e5b83af1076_76124506" title="Floor Bridge"]

            • Plank

            [media id="DEV__4c7e6dc17b07c9_75824660" title="Plank"]

            • Side Plank

            [media id="DEV__4c7e76b51c3597_66921170" title="Side Plank"]

            • Reverse Crunch

            [media id="DEV__4c7e7262454ac9_95823923" title="Reverse Crunch"]

            • Cable/Tubing Lift


              Sorry, but the answer is no. Just remember that love handles indicate too much body fat. You can’t get rid of them without losing body fat. A good exercise program and clean diet will help make those love handles shrink!

              Wendy Batts

              Unfortunately there is no such thing as spot reduction, which is what many believe will happen to the love handles if you work those muscles a lot. Losing fat in any area is a result of burning more calories than you consume. The best way to achieve this calorie scenario is to incorporate a sensible reduced calorie diet and increase physical activity. However, there’s nothing wrong with incorporating abdominal exercises into your routine to be sure those muscles stay nice and strong!

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              Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.