Jiggly arms. Pudgy belly. Saggy bottom. For many women, these “problem areas” cause a lot of frustration. I’m often asked what can be done to tone up and get rid of stubborn fat once and for all.
What I’ve learned over the years is that developing muscle takes time, and you’ve got to be patient and invested in the process in order for it to work. Spot reduction—reducing fat in a specific area of the body by exercising just that part—doesn’t work. But you can take steps to reduce overall body fat and concentrate on a weak body part to make it stronger.
Change doesn’t happen overnight, so don’t get discouraged if you’ve been doing an exercise for some time and aren’t seeing dramatic results. You have to keep at it and continue to work. Also keep the following in mind:
Diet. Are you getting enough lean protein, healthy fats and complex carbs? A healthy diet is important to keep your metabolism working and your hormones balanced. You also want to be sure to drink plenty of water, eat every three hours, avoid sugar and add some fiber (ground flax seeds and beans are great options). I always see changes in my body when I make these small changes to my diet.
Cardio. Continue your cardio routine, but change it up a little. Add an extra 10 minutes (aim for at least 30-40 minutes total) and make sure you’re reaching your target heart rate for fat burning.
Weight training. It’s important to add weight bearing exercises for your stubborn areas to help tighten and build muscle (remember muscle takes up less space than fat and burns more calories). Start with tricep extensions, bicep curls, leg exercises (such as the butt blaster machine), leg press (placing your feet higher on the pad to target your glutes). For abs, I personally like to do more reps and use less (or no) weight in order to trim and tighten rather than build ab muscle.
Supplements. While there isn’t a magic pill that burns away fat, you can try taking a natural formula to support healthy weight loss. Vitacost CLA-1500, for example, contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a healthy fat found naturally in safflower oil. It’s been shown to support healthy weight when taken as part of a regular diet and exercise program.
I also recommend drinking a whey protein shake after workouts to help promote lean muscle. Giant Sports Delicious Protein shakes are really delicious and deliver 27 grams of protein each, with no added sugar.
NPC National Figure competitor Melissa Transou, a fitness expert, wife and mother, blogs about the unique sports and nutrition needs of women and female athletes exclusively for Vitacost.com. Learn more about Melissa in this recent RXMuscle.com spotlight article, connect with her on Facebook or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.