Real talk: Love handles are a pain in the you-know-what. While there’s nothing wrong with carrying a little extra padding around your midsection, love handles (excess belly flab) can be a real nuisance when squeezing into your favorite pair of jeans or wearing form-fitting clothes. And with beach season around the corner, you may want to shrink your waistline and sculpt a flatter tummy. Fortunately, we here at ETNT understand the struggle. That’s why we spoke with Mike Masi, CPT, a certified personal trainer at Garage Gym Reviews, who shares the number one best exercise for love handles to reveal a healthier, slimmer you.

Blasting away love handles offers more than aesthetic benefits; it can also provide a significant health boost. According to Harvard Health Publishing, visceral fat (belly fat deep in your abdomen) is associated with poor metabolic health and a higher chronic disease risk, including heart disease and diabetes. This type of belly fat is also linked to increased breast cancer risk. So, if melting stubborn love handles for appearances only isn’t a priority for you, consider doing it for the health benefits.

If you’re ready to sculpt your midsection, keep reading for Masi’s #1 best exercise for love handles. And when you’re finished, check out these 5 Bodyweight Workouts to Target Flabby Arms.

What is the #1 best exercise to melt love handles?

So, what exactly is the best exercise for blasting away a stubborn “muffin top?” According to Masi, it’s squat thrusters. “Squat thrusters target your shoulders and glutes in a way that may promote muscle growth and give the appearance of a smaller waist. They also engage a large amount of muscle tissue to perform the exercise,” he tells us. “Additionally, it’s an exercise that allows for adding external load, which can be done using a barbell, kettlebells, or dumbbells.”

Squat thrusters are hailed as one of the most effective exercises for targeting love handles because they’re a compound movement that engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously, including the core, legs, and shoulders. This compound movement also torches calories while sculpting and toning the oblique muscles to help reduce the appearance of love handles over time.

The health benefits of squat thrusters:

woman doing dumbbell squat to press, concept of exercises to melt lower belly fat
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Squat thrusters help improve cardiovascular health by elevating your heart rate and boosting metabolism, making them an excellent addition to any fat-loss-focused workout program. This exercise also enhances functional strength and athleticism by mimicking natural movement patterns that improve coordination and balance.

“Research suggests there are certain exercises that are better at burning calories than others,” says Masi. “This includes multi-joint exercises like squat thrusters, which outperform isolation exercises. Furthermore, there is a way to train that results in a growth or widening of the muscles at the hips and the upper back, giving the appearance of a smaller waist over time.”

How can you implement squat thrusters into your routine?

Here is Masi’s breakdown on incorporating squat thrusters into your fitness routine.

“Take a barbell in the front rack position, drop into a squat, then stand up fast enough to thrust the bar overhead. The speed at which this is performed may make or break if you can complete the rep by pressing the bar up,” Masi explains. “Start with a light load first, maybe even using a PVC pipe or a broomstick to get the hang of the movement. Depending on your physical ability, even bodyweight squats can be difficult, and that may be the place to start before you’re comfortable enough to move into thrusters. Work up to three or four sets of eight to 12 reps with a weight that makes the last few reps of each set challenging but doable.”

The benefits of squat thrusters for weight loss:

scale weight loss concept, weight loss mistakes
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Squat thrusters are ideal for shedding excess fat and toning your body. Here’s why:

  • They burn lots of calories. Squat thrusters engage major muscle groups, including the legs, glutes, core, and shoulders, resulting in high-calorie burn both during and after a workout. This increased metabolic demand can help you burn more calories, even at rest, throughout the day.
  • They help build muscle. Adding squat thrusters to your routine will help you build lean muscle mass while melting body fat. More muscle means a higher resting metabolic rate, allowing you to burn more calories even when not exercising.
  • They boost endurance. Squat thrusters require cardiovascular endurance and stamina. Over time, your overall fitness level will increase, allowing you to push harder and longer during workouts to burn more calories and build muscle.

Adam Meyer

Adam is a health writer, certified holistic nutritionist, and 100% plant-based athlete. Read more about Adam
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