Training Tips

Client Question: How Can I Get Rid of My Love Handles?

Spare tire. Muffin top. Love handles. Armrest. These are all names people use to identify the fat that bulges at their waist.

One reason this area is so troubling is it makes it harder to fit into your clothes. And if you tend to wear tight-fitting clothes, the excess popping out on your sides can make you wish you took steps to cover up instead.

What can you do as a personal trainer to help your clients get rid of their extra belly fat so they never have to worry about it again? The first step involves helping clients understand what they may be doing to their physical health.

Visceral Fat and Physical Health

Harvard Medical School explains that part of what makes fat covering the abdominal muscles—also known as visceral fat—so dangerous is that it increases a person’s risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

Carrying too much excess weight around one’s middle has also been linked to other potentially life-threatening conditions, one of which is cancer.

Because of this, helping your clients get rid of this belly fat isn’t just good for their vanity. It may even give them a longer life.

Why Love Handles are So Difficult to Lose

Belly fat can be the most stubborn fat to lose. Why? For starters, if the belly is the first place you normally store excess fat, it will likely be the last place you lose.

Additionally, our bodies are designed to want to store fat in our belly area since it is more accessible when we need extra energy. So, even if you take steps to begin to lose weight, your body will try to retain fat in this area.

To start to outwit stubborn belly fat, it helps to employ a multi-faceted approach:

  • Making a few dietary changes
  • Performing exercises that burn fat and target the abdominal muscles
  • Changing unhealthy lifestyle behaviors

#1: Diet Recommendations to Help Clients Lose Weight and, Subsequently, their Love Handles

Some health experts will tell you that trimming the waistline is more about diet than physical activity. That’s good news for clients who are wondering how to get rid of that excess weight without exercise.

Calories In vs Calories Out

The thing to remember when it comes to weight loss is that it is important to create a calorie deficit, or for the client to consume fewer calories than their body uses. This forces it to dip into its excess fat stores.

To do this, determine their resting metabolic rate so you know how many calories they need simply to survive. Then consider their activity level, giving you a better idea of how many calories they burn daily based on how much exercise they get.

By eating a lower number of calories than their bodies will use, they will begin to create a slimmer waistline.

Foods to Avoid for a Smaller Waist

There are also certain foods clients should avoid if their goal is to create a smaller waist. Among them are:

  • Sugary foods such as cakes, cookies, and ice cream
  • Salty treats like chips and crackers
  • Foods made with white flour, which includes white bread and pasta
  • Processed foods (even seemingly healthy soups, which are often high in sodium)

Eat These Foods Instead

If clients focus more on eating healthy fats and whole, natural foods, they’ll find that it’s easier to not only lose weight in general, but to get rid of belly fat specifically.

Basically, they want to eat a clean diet, giving their bodies foods rich in vitamins and minerals. This provides the nutritional support they need to burn fat efficiently.

Other Eating Habits to Consider

There are a few more things clients can do to get rid of excess fat around their midsection. Among them are:

  • Eating slower so they register when they’re full
  • Reading labels to identify hidden ingredients they should avoid
  • Engaging in mindful eating, which makes portion control easier

Can you lose your love handles with diet alone? Maybe. But diet and exercise together will often provide better results.

#2: Developing a Workout that Slims the Midsection

Research reveals that engaging in physical activity can help reduce abdominal fat. Therefore, in addition to recommending that clients make dietary changes, suggestions about exercise should be offered as well.

A comprehensive workout that targets love handles includes three components:

  • Cardio exercise
  • Strength training workout
  • Toning exercises

The main goal of each is to target the abs.

The Best Cardio Exercise to Help Get Rid of Fat

While all cardiovascular exercise can increase the number of calories burned, thereby increasing the client’s calorie deficit, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a leader in this area.

HIIT involves performing intense bursts of exercise followed by short periods of rest. An example of this would be jogging at a level of 5 on a scale of 1 to 10, then ramping it up to a 9 or 10 for 20 seconds before dropping it back down. The remainder of the workout would keep this same pattern of high-intensity exercise followed by low-intensity exercise.

Studies have found that interval training is generally well accepted by overweight adults, making this an option to consider regardless of your client’s size when they first begin.

Strength Training Exercises Good for Love Handle Reduction

Strength training is a critical part of losing love handles because the more muscles you have, the higher your metabolism. The higher your metabolism, the more fat you’ll burn around the belly. 

Although you can’t specifically target the fat that covers your abdominal muscles, also commonly referred to as “spot reduction,” working your midsection is a great way to tighten that area, making it more tone once the belly fat is off. 

Exercises to include in a strength training program include:

  • Crunches (include crunches designed to tone the oblique muscles, reverse crunches for the lower abs, and pullover crunches for the upper abs)
  • Side Planks
  • Woodchoppers
  • Russian Twists

Include other strength training exercises that target the abs based on what will work best for each client.

Toning Exercises Designed to Increase Lean Muscle Mass

Another way to improve the appearance of the abs while reducing love handles is toning exercises. These elongate the body while increasing fat loss.

Two toning options to consider including in your client’s workout program are:

  • Pilates
  • Yoga

#3: Offering Additional Lifestyle Suggestions

After helping clients modify their diet and exercise, there are a few lifestyle suggestions you can make that will help them burn calories and reduce fat at a higher rate.

Getting enough sleep is one because it’s easier to overeat if you’re tired and want a quick way to wake up the body. Plus, when you’re well-rested, you tend to perform better in your workout sessions.

Reducing stress is another factor to discuss. When you’re stressed, your body increases the production of cortisol. Cortisol makes it harder to get rid of belly fat. 

Making sure they drink enough water is important too. This not only helps them feel fuller, but water promotes optimal body function, part of which includes losing excess fat.

How Long Does It Take to Get Rid of Excess Bodyfat?

One of the first questions your clients may have is how long is it going to take before their love handles start to disappear. 

Because we live in a society that thrives on instant results, this may cause them to want to take drastic actions. For this reason, it helps to relay the many negative side effects of rapid weight loss

Instead, be honest that it is going to take some time. However, if they stick to your plan, they’ll get there. Better yet, they’ll also keep the extra weight off.

When A Client’s Love Handles Just Won’t Disappear

There are many potential reasons why your client may not be losing weight. So, if they are becoming discouraged that the weight isn’t disappearing as quickly as they like, it may be time to take a closer look at what they are (and are not) doing.

Examine their diet. Look at their workout schedule and activities. Ask about their sleep, stress, and more. 

If nothing jumps out at you, it may be best to refer them to a medical doctor for additional testing. The key is to keep working with them so they get answers and begin to get results.

Getting clients to change their behaviors can be a struggle, especially if they’ve had them for any length of time. If this an area you’d like to become more efficient in, the ISSA offers a certification course that helps you more easily recognize when your clients are most ready to change, as well as providing strategies for motivating them to want to engage in healthier behaviors. Check out the Transformational Specialist certification program today.

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