This month I’ve decided to take some time to address many of the common concerns of our readers. Being motivated and disciplined to exercise and care for the body is already a major step on the right track. However, it’s also very important to ensure that you make good use of your time by making sure your training is in-line with your specific personal goals. You want to be sure that what you are doing will give you the results that you want.
I’m a 28 year old petite Asian female who doesn’t want to build big muscles. I want to get my body tighter and firmer. Will working with weights make me bulky?
Anna: Adding weight-training to your workout doesn’t guarantee that you’ll become She-Hulk! This is a common misconception. Few exercise programs, even those incorporating weights, will make a woman bulkier. There are ways to train the body for muscle size and tone but as for packing on muscle mass, women simply don’t have enough of an abundance of male testosterone hormones to bulk up. It takes a lot of work, effort and focus for women to get pumped up, not to mention intent. If you do want to build bigger muscles, you most certainly can but it would take spending hours in the gym for most days of the week, with lots of heavy lifting. Even then, women are less likely to pack on enough muscle to be considered bulky. A brawny physique is also very difficult to maintain and takes just as much care to sustain, even for the boys. If it was that easy to bulk up, we’d see He-Men everywhere! So don’t be shy around those dumbbells, ladies! Note, for every extra pound of muscle you can pack onto your frame, you’ll burn an additional 150 calories a day. It may not sound like a lot, but it has a way of adding up.
You cannot spot reduce fat. When fat comes off, it comes off from different areas of your body in proportions that are largely dictated by your genes.
I hate my butt! It’s flat! How can I get a more perky butt?
Anna: A perky butt can be achieved by performing exercises that require your glutes (your butt-muscles) to lift the weight. Doing lunges, squats and other leg exercises with weights is a great way to firm up. Pick a weight that you can do for 8-12 reps. Beginners can start with 1-2 sets working up to doing regular sets of 2-3 sets.
I have heavy legs and I want to lean them out. Will biking help?
Anna: While biking is a great cardio exercise, it is also a way to build stronger and thicker legs. How fast you pedal determines how you will tone your legs. If you bike at a high resistance and therefore having to pedal slower and harder, you will likely be building thicker legs. If biking is your choice of exercise, to achieve long lean shapely legs, pedal at a high speed and at a low level of resistance. This supports the theory of high reps and low weights used for weight-training when the goal is to lean up. If you still have a problem and find that your legs are not slimming down, choose another cardio activity that puts less focus on the legs. Choose either running or the crosstrainer machine as alternatives. Also, leg exercises like lunges and squats with little or no weight or ball exercises for the legs working at reps of 15-25 can help tone the muscles without building size. You’d be surprised by how much you can do with “no weights” at all.
I have a small frame and consider myself skinny but for some reason I have a big bulge for a stomach. How do I get rid it?
Anna: You cannot spot reduce fat. When fat comes off, it comes off from different areas of your body in proportions that are largely dictated by your genes. Fat can be reduced through better eating habits and proper exercise. Increase your activity level and minimalize your intake of foods to lose weight. Eating more food than your body requires will only result in weight gain.
Here are two easy steps to the formula:
- Eat lean and clean.
Choose foods that are fresh, natural, unprocessed and low in fat. Try not to eat too many different types of food at once. (i.e. fruits, bread, potatoes and meat). The different combinations of foods don’t sit well in the stomach. Buffets are the worst for this.
- Do mix up your workout to include cardio and weight training to reduce body fat and firm up your muscles.
Burn off more calories by getting your heart rate up with cardio exercises such as jogging or skipping rope. Toning your muscles with weight-training also helps to increase your metabolism. As a result, you will continue to burn fat even at rest.
Tone the abs with ab exercises on the mat and with a ball. Having a trim waistline means working the muscles in the back and the front as well as all the deeper muscles too; afterall, they all make up your waistline. Remember that your abs are muscles that can build size if you work them with heavy weights. If your goal is to tighten your midsection and trim off inches, keep your reps high and work with “no weights”.
I do push-ups and sit-ups everyday. Is that enough?
Anna: No. Doing just push-ups and sit-ups everyday will do you more harm than good. The motion that you are doing through push-ups and sit-ups is strictly forward motion. And that combined with daily activity which is also forward motion will cause your posture to be hunched forward. You can counter this by knowing the stresses that you put on your body everyday and then working the opposite muscles to balance out your body. Your body is made up of many muscles. Working out only a few of them and neglecting the rest will cause imbalances resulting in some parts of your body to be disproportionately stronger than others. It’s best to train your whole body by ensuring that you give attention to every muscle group with your workout program. You don’t have to do this all in one workout but it’s important that you do not neglect some muscles and overwork others. Another important point to remember is to ensure good form in your exercise. Be safe and don’t try to lift too much too soon. For more guidance and better direction, hire a trainer to guide you in the right way.
I keep craving sugar constantly. I can’t stop. What should I do?
Anna: Eating foods containing sugar, regardless of the amounts, spikes your blood sugar levels which trigger a craving for more. I react exactly the same way with sugar which is why I avoid it altogether. Some experts suggest eating sugar in moderation. I disagree. Sugar can be like a drug. If you have a little of it, you will want a lot of it. However, we are all different and we all react differently to food. There are people who can eat sugar in moderation and have no problem with cravings at all. But if you’re not one of these people and find that you are struggling with sugar, avoid it altogether.
I don’t know how to exercise properly. For the past year, I’ve been thinking about hiring a trainer. Should I hire a trainer or just try training on my own first?
Anna: Wow, you’ve been debating for a year? That’s a whole year without proper direction in keeping your body healthy and in shape. First of all, you shouldn’t waste any time when it comes to taking care of your body properly. You must take care of it now and every day. How you train your body and if you are training properly will determine how well or not your body will look and function.
I see people going to the gym all the time. Some of them go almost every day and even spend hours at the gym yet I see no visible progress. If everyone spent their time at the gym wisely and knew how to work properly to achieve their goals, everyone would look and feel fitter, healthier and better. Unfortunately, this is far from the case. Hiring a personal trainer, even if it is only for one session, is at least a way to guide you in the right direction. Yes, personal trainers cost money, but so does everything else in life. Nothing is more worth the financial investment than your health, your future, and your time. When you contribute to your health, you are doing so to look forward to the greatest benefit, your continued existence and happiness. Training should be a part of every lifestyle. Look for a trainer who is certified through a recognized agency. Find a trainer that you are compatible with and who has experience working with your specific needs.
Every month Anna Wong, personal fitness trainer to the stars, will be writing a column for Asiance Magazine. This column is dedicated to your questions and concerns in health and fitness. Your suggestions and requests are welcome. This column is for you so your feedback is important. To contact Anna, email her at email@example.com.
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