Say Goodbye to Your Winter Love Handles

Keeping fit and toned is easy when you’re young. But throw in a demanding full time job, maybe a couple of kids and declining energy levels, and you have a recipe for body changes that you might not have wanted. If you want to change your body shape — especially reducing those deposits of fat on your hips called love handles — here’s your chance.

Hit it up

Diane Teles recommends a combination of high intensity interval training (HIIT) and aerobic exercise to tackle specific areas and your overall body fat composition. HIIT combines short bursts of high intensity exercise with short recovery phases in one session, allowing for greater overall energy expenditure within a short space of time. Most of these exercises can be done without much equipment:

  • Choose four basic dynamic movements targeting different areas, say push-ups, sit-ups, burpees and squat jumps
  • Plan your workout time — this will depend on your fitness level and the amount of time you have to dedicate
  • Perform each movement for 20 seconds, with a 10 second rest before starting the next movement
  • Add a longer rest after each round of four movements

HIIT is a very adaptable form of exercise, and great for gradually increasing strength. Diane also reminds you to:

  • Work as hard as you can
  • Try to maintain or increase the number of reps you do for each movement across the entire workout
  • Change your set each time — allowing your body to adapt and get used to the exercises is not what you’re looking for. Adaptation is the enemy of progress!

Change your shape

Reshaping your mid-section should involve focusing on your core using HIIT, and the superficial muscle layers (they show themselves as that coveted six-pack). To build core strength, you can also try Pilates, kettlebells and or some of these core-centric exercises that can be done at home:

  • Dynamic planking: Starting in the top push-up position, drop your right elbow to the ground, then your left. Then, straighten up your right and left elbow and end in the position you began. Repeat, on the opposite side. You should keep your hips square to the ground while performing this action (so no rolling your hips).
  • Bird dog tucks: Starting on hands and knees, straighten your right arm in front of you and your left leg behind you. Bracing your core, pull your leg and arm in and perform the tuck by touching the elbow and knee underneath you. Increase the difficulty by holding the tuck for a few seconds before starting the next repeat.
  • Hanging knee raises: If you have access to a pull-up bar, do this there. In the hang, brace your core, raise your knees together as high as you can and lower to the start position on a slow count of four. Repeat until you begin to tire. It’s important to maintain your core tension throughout this exercise.

Once you’ve begun working on your core, you can complement those exercises with some that target the superficial muscle layer. These mostly involve bending, straightening and rotating these muscles through your trunk:

  • Weighted side bends: Hold a weight (a dumbbell or kettlebell) in your hand and bend to the weighted side. Repeat on the other side.
  • Weighted twists: Holding a weight plate or medicine ball straight out in front of you, twist to the side while keeping your feet planted on the floor. Repeat on the other side.
  • Floor wipers: Lying on your back on the floor, hold a medicine ball or weighted bar straight out at shoulder height. Lift your legs, keeping your knees bent, twist to the side and try to touch the floor with the knee while counterbalancing with the medicine ball/bar.

So if you’re looking to slim down this summer, give these tips a go and remember that it’s also important to “manage your stress levels, as the higher your resulting cortisol levels are, the more the shape and size of your mid body is affected.”

This article has been written in collaboration with physiotherapist and CrossFit coach Diane Teles, based in Fourways. She has a special interest in sports (especially CrossFit) as well as post-surgery rehabilitation, orthopaedic conditions and injuries.

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