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March 09, 2023 8 min read

Feeling insecure about having a “muffin top” is understandable, which may lead us to try to hide it by wearing clothes to cover up the area. However, the presence of stubborn belly fat is natural in both genders, and the aim for many of us is still to look and feel good.

Fortunately, persistence and hard work, a healthy eating plan, and a mixture of cardio and strength workouts can help you reduce fat throughout the body and decrease the amount of fat around the midsection.

What is a Muffin Top?

The term “muffin top” is used to describe the visible flab or rolls of fat that spills over the waistband of tight-fitting pants, just like the top of a muffin that spills over the edge of its baking case.

Overflowing Muffins - Image from SHutterstock

Fortunately, in today's world, we have access to medical and technological advances like Liposuction to help us handle our trouble spots. However, before going to those lengths, it would be wise to try out a healthier eating plan and a good workout regime to help you reduce that muffin top, aka love handles.

What are the Causes of Muffin Tops?

It can be daunting to try to make sense of all the different and sometimes opposing data regarding detox programs, crash diets, and core workouts that claim to give you a toned stomach overnight.

There are numerous reasons why someone might experience an increase in weight, from their hormones to their diet. Many people do not know the cause of their weight gain, but by learning what is causing it, they can then better concentrate on the right diet and exercise routine.


Changes in hormone levels can have an effect on the skin, body weight, and even the amount of hair on the head. These alterations can be a result of the aging process, and for women, taking birth control or being pregnant may be contributing factors. These changes in hormones are regular and should self-regulate over time. Menopause also causes hormonal changes that might affect women’s weight, which can be controlled with hormone supplements.

Female with muffin top - Image from Shutterstock


Unfortunately, the way your body stores fat is largely predetermined by your genetics. This might mean some individuals tend to accumulate fat in their midsection and others in their back and buttocks. However, don't let this be a reason to give up – you can still reduce fat all over and then build up your ab muscles.

Stress and Anxiety

When feeling anxious, cortisol levels increase, causing the body to go into survival mode and store excess fat in the abdomen. This can also lead to cravings for unhealthy, high-sugar, and high-salt snacks as a coping mechanism, which can cause weight gain around the waistline. Making sure you get enough sleep can also help reduce stress and anxiety.

Diet and Exercise

It's obvious, but still worth noting: even if you think you have a hormonal imbalance or another cause of weight inconsistency, diet, and exercise should still be part of your daily routine to maintain overall wellness.

Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly have been shown to decrease stress, which can help you lose weight. Additionally, these activities can help address underlying hormonal issues that could be causing your weight woes.

Male with Muffin Top - image from Shutterstock

Is a Muffin Top a Health Risk?

Yes, a muffin top is a health risk. The fat in your abdomen can be divided into visceral and subcutaneous fat. Visceral fat is stored deep within your belly and surrounds your organs. It can cause your waist to become wider than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women.

Visceral fat is linked to health issues such as cancer, heart disease, and type-2 diabetes. This kind of fat is metabolically active, meaning it increases inflammation in the body.

Most of the body fat is located just beneath the skin, resulting in a muffin top or an extra pinchable inch around your waist. Visceral fat is more easily shed than subcutaneous fat, meaning your belly will slim down faster than fat loss around your abdomen.

The subcutaneous fat that forms your muffin top, however, can be very difficult to get rid of, meaning you may have to work harder to reduce it.

Best Exercises to Get Rid of a Muffin Top

Regardless of what you hear about spot reduction to lose belly fat, it is not possible to target a specific section of your body for weight loss. However, by eating nutrient-dense whole foods and doing a combination of cardio and resistance exercises, you can reduce fat all over, even in areas such as the stomach. The exercises suggested will help to burn calories and develop the muscle underneath the fatty tissue.

1. Single-Leg Glute Bridge

This exercise works your core, glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.

Starting Position:

Lie on your back on the floor with your knees flexed and your feet flat on the ground about 6 inches away from your glutes. Let your arms lie by your sides, palms flat on the floor.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Drive through your heels to lift your hips until you can feel your core muscles activate and engage.

  2. Take care not to lift your hips high enough to cause your lower back to arch.

  3. Keep your arms outstretched and your palms on the floor for support.

  4. Lift your left leg up by engaging your right quad and glute, keeping your knee slightly bent.

  5. Hold that position for a few seconds, inhale, and slowly lower your hips all the way down to the floor, keeping your left leg in the elevated position.

  6. Now, exhale, and drive through your hips as you send your hips up again, keeping them parallel to form a line from your shoulder to the knee of your right leg.

  7. Do 15 reps with each leg.

2. Mountain Climber Twist

This exercise is great for reducing the muffin top. Twisting exercises like the mountain climber twist work your obliques while at the same time burning plenty of calories.

Starting position:

Begin in a plank position with your arms fully extended and your feet resting on your toes.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Bring your right knee up and twist your body to get that knee as close as you can to your left elbow.

  2. Take your leg back and straighten it as you let it rest on the toes next to your left foot.

  3. Bring your left knee up and twist your body to get that knee as close as you can to your right elbow.

  4. Repeat climbing with alternate legs for 20 seconds, and aim for 3 sets.

Take care not to do the reps too rapidly because it will let you use momentum rather than tax the targeted muscles.

3. Superman

If you're looking to slim down your muffin top, you should focus on tightening your abdomen and lower back. Doing a core-focused exercise is a great way to strengthen the key muscles in your midsection. This type of exercise works your glutes, lower back, lower traps, and core.

Starting Position:

Lie face down on the floor. Keep your legs straight back and extend your arms.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Tighten your glutes and your core.

  2. Inhale and lift your arms and legs simultaneously, making you look like Superman in flight.

  3. Hold for one count, exhale, and lower your arms and legs back to the starting position.

  4. Repeat the movement as many times as you can in 20 seconds, and aim for 3 sets.

4. Russian Twist

The Russian Twist is an excellent way to decrease any extra fat around the stomach area. It strengthens the abdominal muscles and tones the obliques while also assisting in melting away the muffin top. Depending on your exercise level, you can add weight or do it without.

Starting position:

Sit on your butt on the floor with your feet pressed into the ground and knees bent about ninety degrees.

Lean back a little, allowing your thighs and trunk to form another 90-degree angle. Stretch your arms out in front of you.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. While keeping your heels in position on the ground, twist your entire trunk and your arms from left to right and back.

  2. Do not get into a motion of swinging your arms left and right independently.

  3. They must remain straight and move along with your trunk.

  4. You can intensify the core activation by lifting your heels slightly as if they are floating one or two inches off the floor.

  5. You can further challenge yourself by adding a weight plate, kettlebell, or dumbbell.

  6. However, it is very easy to give in to creating momentum by swinging your arms and the weight from side to side—bypassing the core muscles entirely.

  7. Do as many reps as you can in 20 seconds, and aim for 3 sets.

5. Side Plank

The side plank is one of the most effective exercises for strengthening the core.

Starting position:

Get into a side plank position on your right side with your right forearm on the floor, making sure your elbow is directly below your shoulder. Your legs must be straight with your left ankle resting on your right ankle.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Exhale and lift your hip so that your body forms a straight line from your underarm to your ankle.

  2. Engage your core to ensure your hip does not sag.

  3. Hold that position for a count of three and inhale as you slowly lower your hip into the starting position.

  4. Repeat 10 times on your right side, and do the same on your left side.

  5. Do 2 or 3 sets on each side.

6. Lunge to Overhead Press

Although this may not appear to be ab exercises, the core muscles will be heavily engaged to keep the body stable, particularly when lifting the dumbbells above your head.

Starting position:

Holding a pair of dumbbells up to your shoulders with your palms facing each other, stand with your feet hip-width apart.

Here's how to do it:

  1. With your left knee slightly bent, lunge forward with your right leg, pushing the dumbbells straight up above your head.

  2. Make sure your knee does not go over your toes.

  3. Lower the dumbbells and step back with your right foot to return to the starting position.

  4. Repeat the movements by lunging with your left leg to complete one repetition.

  5. Repeat the movements lunging with alternate legs.

  6. Make sure you push through your heels every time you return to the starting position.

  7. Do 3 sets of 6 reps each.

HIIT Workout Routine

A great way to quickly lose that muffin top is to do High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT. This type of cardio requires you to give your all for a short period of time (20–30 seconds) before taking a rest. HIIT is more beneficial for burning calories and boosting your metabolism, so you can continue to burn calories even when you're not working out.

The American Heart Association advises engaging in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week to get your heart rate up, preferably spread out over the course of the week. This should include a combination of cardio, High-Intensity Interval Training, and strength training.

This video shows:

  • Side Crunch

  • Sit up reach

  • Ankle reaches

  • Reverse Crunch

  • Oblique Twist with a Side Crunch

  • Rotation

  • Flutter kicks and heel taps

  • Bicycle crunches and other muffin top exercises.


Combined with a healthy diet, full-body exercises can help slim down your waistline to get rid of abdominal fat. These activities focus on the areas around your midsection, obliques, waist, abs, and glutes, and can easily be done at home.

However, be sure to do them correctly. If you have any issues with your shoulders, joints, or knees, see a physical therapist to find out if these exercises are safe for you. If so, discuss your routine with a personal trainer who might make small adjustments to some moves to make them safe for you to do if you want to get rid of your muffin top fast.