Love Handles vs Muffin Top

Love Handles vs Muffin Top

Weight gain is the result of taking in more calories through food than you burn off as energy. The extra calories will store themselves in your body as excess energy. While it can store itself in any area, for most of us that extra weight tends to accumulate around our middle. 

There are a number of terms to describe the fat that sits on our midsection. Two of the most commonly used are muffin tops and love handles. In this article, we take a look at the differences between them and, more importantly, show you how to get rid of them.

Love Handles

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The term love handles describe the accumulation of fat on the sides of the waist, just above the hips. The phrase was first used about 50 years ago in reference to the ability of a person’s love to grab them by the body fat at the sides of their waist and pull them closer to kiss them. 

Love handles form a spillover of skin just above the hips to create pouches that you can grab in your hand. While love handles are a problem for both men and women, it appears to be a particular problem for guys. In my experience, the excess fat above the hips, or love handles, is the hardest to get rid of for guys who are getting lean.

Love handles are the result of a caloric surplus over an extended period of time. This results from ending the day having eaten more calories than you consume through exercise and your other daily activities. 

Muffin Top

muffin top

When a person talks about a muffin top, they’re referring to a spillover of body fat that goes over their pants to form a pouch that you can grab in your hands. The phrase comes from the top of a muffin that goes beyond the cup and forms a half circle.

Muffin top is caused by the same caloric excess that causes love handles. However, hormonal changes that occur as we age are also responsible. These hormonal changes cause an increase in estrogen, a lowering of testosterone, and a reduction in the body’s metabolism. 

Main Fat Storage Areas

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It is important to note that the extra calories that are stored as fat in your body do not go directly to any one area. They are generally evenly distributed. However, there are parts of the body where they seem to be more prevalent than others. 

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For men, body fat tends to accumulate on the abdominals and sides of the waist. For women, these areas are also a problem but so are the butt, hips, thighs, and upper arms. 

How Not To Get Rid of Love Handles & Muffin Tops

Before we delve into the best strategies to get rid of love handles and muffin tops, let’s take a look at how not to go about it. 

The human body is not able to spot reduced body fat. that means that you can not do exercises to work the oblique muscles at the size of the waist in order to get rid of body fat. Nor can you do abdominal exercises like crunches to remove your muffin top. 

Those exercises will strengthen and develop the abdominal and oblique muscles that are sitting underneath the fat. But the layer of adipose tissue that is causing your love handles or muffin top will remain. 

In order to lose stored body fat, you need to create a caloric deficit. That requires a combination of exercise and eating fewer calories. The calorie-burning exercise that you do to burn calories will remove fat evenly from all over your body evenly.

Body fat levels are directly related to muscle mass and fitness level. The fitter you are the higher your resting metabolism will be. Likewise, the more muscle mass you have, the higher your calorie burn will be. That’s because muscle requires more energy than fat. 

The Best Exercises to Get Rid of Muffin Tops and Love Handles

The fact that stored body fat comes off evenly from all over the body tells us that you should do the same exercises for fat removal in different parts of the body. So the same exercises that work to get rid of muffin tops are the same ones to lose your love handles.

So what are those exercises?

They are the best calorie-burning cardiovascular exercises.

There are many cardio exercises that you can choose from to lose weight. One of the best calorie-burning options is the rowing machine. Working out on a rowing machine works both your lower and upper body, unlike most other options. That makes your body work much harder, leading to a greater calorie burn.

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Another thing I really like about the rowing machine is that it is a closed-chain exercise. That means that your feet never leave the door platform on the rowing machine. This makes for a very low-impact form of cardio exercise. 

Other effective calorie-burning cardio exercises are jumping rope and using an elliptical machine. Of course, jumping rope is more stressful on your joints than rowing or exercising on an elliptical. So, if you have knee, hip, or ankle problems, you should go with the other two options.

The Best Form of Exercise for Muffin Tops & Love Handles

Now that we have identified the best exercises to get rid of that excess fat around your middle. Let’s talk about the best type of workout.

The most effective form of fat-burning cardio exercise is high-intensity interval Training (HIIT). This involves performing short bursts of high-intensity exercise, followed by an even shorter rest period. This is repeated for several rounds.

Here is how to do HIIT on a rowing machine …

  1. Get on the rowing machine and do a 2-minute warm-up. Build up your speed so that, when the 2-minute mark arrives, you are rowing at a full sprint.
  2. Row at max intensity for 20 seconds.
  3. Recover for exactly 10 seconds.
  4. Repeat for 8 rounds.
  5. Warm down for 2 minutes

If you are exercising with a jump rope or elliptical, follow the same pattern. HIIT training burns a lot of calories while you are doing it. It also elevates your metabolism for several hours after the workout to burn even more calories. This is due to what is known as the enhanced post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) effect, by which the body has a greater need for oxygen after the session is over.

I recommend doing HIIT cardio 3-4 times per week.

Diet to Get Rid of Muffin Top & Love Handles

What is a muffin top.960

To get rid of your extra body fat, you need to end each day having eaten fewer calories than you burn off. To do that you first need to know how many calories you need to sustain your current energy level. Use an online calculator to find out what your calorie maintenance level is.

Now that you’ve got your calorie maintenance level, you should set the goal of eating 500 calories fewer each day.

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Follow a balanced diet in which you cut out sugary foods, increase your fiber intake, eat lean proteins with every meal, and include plenty of healthy fats.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is sleep important to midsection weight loss?

Yes, getting adequate sleep is a key factor in achieving sustained weight loss. While you are sleeping the body produces more of the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin. A good night’s sleep also keeps your cortisol levels down. Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night.

What cosmetic things can I do to lessen my muffin top?

You can buy body shaper garments that help to cancel your muffin top. I also recommend taking out your favorite jeans so that there is less of a spillover over the belt. 

What physical activity and lifestyle habits will help me lose weight that is covering my abdominal muscles?

The key things are to develop a regular workout routine, including both cardio and strength training exercises, include plenty of recovery period time, get plenty of sleep, and follow a reduced-calorie healthy eating pattern. 


Muffin top refers to the spillover of fatty skin over your belt, while lover handles are those pudgy pouches of fat at the sides of your waist. to get rid of both of them, perform HIIT cardio and reduce your caloric intake by 500 calories per day. 

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  2. Viana RB, Naves JPA, Coswig VS, de Lira CAB, Steele J, Fisher JP, Gentil P. Is interval training the magic bullet for fat loss? A systematic review and meta-analysis comparing moderate-intensity continuous training with high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Br J Sports Med. 2019 May;53(10):655-664. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2018-099928. Epub 2019 Feb 14. PMID: 30765340.
  3. Papatriantafyllou E, Efthymiou D, Zoumbaneas E, Popescu CA, Vassilopoulou E. Sleep Deprivation: Effects on Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance. Nutrients. 2022 Apr 8;14(8):1549. doi: 10.3390/nu14081549. PMID: 35458110; PMCID: PMC9031614.

Steve Theunissen

Steve Theunissen is a former gym owner and personal trainer based in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness, and fat loss.

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