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The 8 Best Exercises To Melt Pesky Love Handles

Shed the fat around your waist, and transform your body with these exercises.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

"Love handles:" A cute name for a not-so-cute thing. This is the name for excess fat that sits at the sides of your waistline and hangs over your pants. Unfortunately, getting rid of love handles can be a challenge because they're often quite stubborn. On top of that, spot reduction—using exercises to specifically target the fat in a specific area—is a myth, so it might seem like you're stuck. But don't feel down in the dumps, because we have eight of the best exercises to melt love handles for good. Combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle habits, you'll start to slim down your waistline.

The best way to drop those handles is to use heavier strength exercises. They burn a ton of calories—especially compared to traditional cardio—and they increase your muscle mass so you can boost your overall metabolism. Over time, this will melt unwanted, excess fat so you can watch your midsection get more toned than before before.

If you're ready to get started, keep reading to learn about eight of the best strength exercises to melt love handles and reclaim your waist. And when you're finished, don't miss The 30-Day Standing Workout to Sculpt Ripped Abs in Record Time.

Barbell Front Squats

illustration of barbell front squat exercise

The squat is the "king of exercises" for good reason: It targets almost every muscle in your body. To reduce your midsection, try the front squat variation, which builds lots of muscle with less wear and tear on your body than a back squat.

Grab a barbell slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and roll your elbows under and in front of the bar until your upper arms are parallel with the floor. Take the bar out of the rack, and let it rest in front of your neck on the meaty part of your shoulders. Keep your chest high and elbows up and squeezed together.

Stand shoulder-width apart with your toes slightly out. Start the movement by sitting backward and spreading your knees apart. Descend below parallel while keeping your lower back flat. At the bottom, drive through your heels and keep your knees apart. Keep your chest high and elbows up and squeezed together throughout.

RELATED: 10 Best Strength Exercises for Women To Melt 'Middle-Aged Spread' Belly Fat

Standing Dumbbell Overhead Presses

illustration of dumbbell shoulder press

This seems like a shoulder exercise, but it works virtually every muscle in your body. Your arms, shoulders, and traps propel the weight, and your core and lower body have to stabilize your body.

Grab two dumbbells, and hold them by your shoulders. Keep your core tight and your glutes squeezed, and push the dumbbells directly overhead. At the top, your biceps should be next to your ears. Don't lean back or arch your lower back.

Trap Bar Deadlifts

trap bar deadlift

Deadlifts are just as great as squats. Unfortunately, some people struggle with traditional barbell deadlifts. That's why I recommend using a trap bar instead; you stay more upright with your torso and you start in the center of the weight so there's less strain on your body.

Stand at the center of a trap bar with your feet hip-width apart and your toes straight ahead. Keep your knees soft, and bend at your hip, grabbing the handles. Keep your shins perpendicular to the ground and your lower back flat. Drive through your heels, and push your hips forward to stand straight up. Squeeze your glutes at the top. Reverse the movement to lower the weight.

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illustration of step-ups

This is another fantastic lower-body exercise. Unlike squats, you train each leg separately so you can eliminate any asymmetries and even improve your balance, coordination, and core strength.

Place one foot on a box or bench. Pull all your weight on that foot, and drive yourself up by pushing through your heel. Avoid pushing off with your bottom leg.

RELATED: 7 Lower-Belly Exercises Trainers Swear By To Tighten & Sculpt

Inverted Rows

inverted row illustration, exercises to melt love handles

If you want to get more benefits from your weight training, strengthen the muscles at the rear of your body more than at the front of your body. Why? Because that's where the foundation is. So, before you bench, make sure you row.

Set a barbell on a power rack or Smith Machine, and, from underneath, pull yourself up and touch your chest to the bar. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, and keep your body straight like a plank.

TRX Pushups

TRX pushups, exercises to melt love handles

Regular pushups are already an awesome upper-body exercise. By using a suspension trainer, you force your shoulder-stabilizing muscles to work harder and skyrocket the effort on your core, which isn't a bad thing.

Face away from the anchor point with TRX handles in each hand. Get into a pushup position with your hands about shoulder-width apart. Keep your lower back flat, and don't let your hips sag. Lower yourself, and keep your elbows close to your body as you descend.

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chin-ups, exercises to melt love handles

Put away those dinky bicep curl variations! If you want a huge fat-burning effect, chin-ups are the way to go. They strengthen your arms, back, shoulders, and grip with every single rep, which is more than any isolation exercise.

Grab a pull-up bar with your palms facing toward you, and start by squeezing your shoulder blades together. Pull yourself up, and lead with your chest.

Aerobic Exercise

air bike, exercises to melt love handles

Aerobic exercise wraps up our list of the best exercises to melt love handles. This refers to "traditional" steady-state cardio: Jogging, biking, hiking, rowing, etc. The reason this is so effective is that aerobic exercise burns calories and fat without fatiguing your muscles or cardiovascular system. This lets you train more frequently without overtraining or exhausting you mentally or physically, which can happen if you go overboard with high-intensity interval training. Go for 30 to 45 minutes, several times a week, and aim for a heart rate of 120 to 140 bpm.

Anthony J. Yeung
Anthony J. Yeung, CSCS, is a fitness expert featured in Esquire, GQ, and Men’s Health and the founder of GroomBuilder, the destination for men who want to transform their bodies for their weddings. Join the free 5-day course to burn fat and build muscle for the big day! Read more about Anthony
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