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Fitness Friday – Love Handles

Happy weekeeennnddd!!

Hope everyone’s got a good two days in store! Even when I used to work weekends, they always seemed so much more exciting than the rest of the week :)

This particular Friday is a special one here at The Great Balancing Act. It marks the kick-off of a new series I’m deeming…

Fitness Fridays

Catchy, no? :P

Fridays will now revolve around all things fitness. Whether it be answering your fit questions, sharing workouts, explaining moves, or delving further into the science and mechanics of exercise.

First things first, I must share my workout for today.

You see, I was planning on a hardcore weight lifting workout. Most of the time, I can pump myself up to go to the gym to play around in the weight room. When I can’t, I can at least convince myself to put some good music on my iPod and go for a run or do some stuff on the cardio equipment. But even the thought of that had me groaning.

Then something in the corner of the room caught my eye – my roommie’s bike! Even though my dad brought my road bike from NB, I need to replace the chain on it. However, he also brought my helmet, and my roommate said I was more than welcome to ride her hybrid when she leaves it at home.

Suddenly, I got really excited to exercise :D

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I set off on the bike trails, not knowing where I was going to end up. I came across a great location where it felt like I wasn’t even in Toronto anymore!

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The beach! There’s a jazz festival happening here this weekend, so they had live Caribbean music playing on the beach. A wonderful area to pedal through.

I’d forgotten how much I love biking, and had a hard time getting myself to turn around back home. Ended up being out for 80 glorious minutes. A fine example that even when exercise is the last thing you want to do, there are always options and different ways to get excited about getting your butt in gear :)

 

Now! On to this week’s Fitness Friday topic: love handles.

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I recently received a reader e-mail asking how one can reduce the presence of love handles – that fleshy bit of fat/skin that sits on your hips.

Unfortunately, I do not have a simple answer for this one. Love handles are simply a store of fat, everyone’s bodies like to store fat in different places. As much as people try to ignore it, fact of the matter is, you cannot spot reduce fat. Not even through diet and exercise. If we could pick and choose where we wanted our bodies to store fat, us women would all have hourglass figures ;)

That means your best chances of getting rid of those pesky love handles is to take on a regime that is targeted at overall fat loss. This is a routine made up of both cardio and strength training, along with a balanced and “clean” diet. Even then, your hips may be the last place your body chooses to shed fat.

But because I don’t want to leave you here with nothing, I’m going to share one of my favourite exercises for fat loss: high intensity interval training.

I’ve written a very in-depth post on this before, but if you’re a newb to HIIT, here is how you can start:

Jump on a cardio machine at the gym. Spin bikes and ellipticals are my favourite for HIIT because they don’t require too much coordination, but you can also do this running outdoors. Start with one minute light intensity followed by two minutes moderate intensity. That is your warm-up. Then sprint for one minute. The sprint should be going as fast and as hard as you possibly can. On cardio machines, I’ll often increase the resistance to make it harder. After your one-minute sprint, recover with two minutes moderate work, and repeat this sequence for a total of 15 minutes.

The above is a very basic HIIT workout. You can make it more difficult by adding minutes (I wouldn’t recommend doing it longer than 30 minutes, it’s an intense workout). You can shorten the recovery time, or lengthen your sprints. Sometimes I play around with the resistance and intensity, either increasing it, decreasing it, or both.

High intensity interval training is not only a great cardio workout, but it stimulates your fast twitch muscle fibres which are great for maintaining muscle mass. Doing a lot of long, moderate-intensity exercise can potentially put you in a catabolic state where you begin to lose muscle. I always draw the picture of a marathon runner compared to an olympic sprinter.

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High intensity intervals cause EPOC – Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption. This means that even after you finish your workout, your body is trying to get its oxygen levels back to their pre-workout state. This also means you can continue to burn calories for hours after your workout! (although, don’t get too excited, EPOC doesn’t justify a DQ Blizzard :P )

I should also say that you do not need to look like a body builder to get rid of love handles. But putting on muscle, in my opinion, is the best way to blast body fat. If you’re someone who loves their cardio, is scared of strength training, low on time, or just looking for a way to switch it up – high intensity intervals will help you on your quest to be rid of those love handles!!

Honourable mention also goes to your diet. Remember that you can never out-train a bad diet. I’m currently a living example of this people ;)

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