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Abdominal Fat Despite Normal Weight
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CiCiCollins posted:
Hi-

So I am 128 lbs, 5" 4" and 23. I walk 3-5 times a week for 30 minutes. I have been working out and dieting for several years now. A couple years ago I was working out 3 times a week doing 1 hour of cardio and an hour of strength training and eating 1200 calories per day. At my lowest weight I was 117 lbs, and I STILL had a belly on me, although my limbs were very slender. I have never had a nice flat stomach, even as an adolescent. I was hoping that you could create a work out for me that would help reduce my abdominal fat, tone my thighs and build up my butt which is kinda flat. I have tried so many things and I just don't know what to do, and I always feel lost when creating my own workouts and I feel as though they aren't very effective. Thanks!
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Rich Weil, MEd, CDE responded:
Hi CiCi,

As you probably know, or by now have realized, you cannot spot reduce. It would be nice if you could get on the Elliptical and say, "Okay, today, burn fat from my abs!" But of course it doesn't work that way. The good news is that you can tighten muscles with resistance exercise, and even though cardio doesn't burn fat where you want it from (although it eventually will on its own), it does help, and so does interval training.

Here are my suggestions:

Here are some excellent ab exercises. Make sure to stretch your low back before and after doing them.

1. Bicycle Maneuver: Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground. Put your hands beside your head. Bring knees up to about 45-degree angle and slowly go through a bicycle pedal motion. Touch your left elbow to your right knee, then your right elbow to your left knee. Keep even, relaxed breathing throughout.

2. Captain's Chair: Stabilize your upper body by gripping the hand holds and lightly pressing your lower back against the back pad. The starting position begins with you holding your body up with legs dangling below. Now slowly lift your knees in toward your chest. The motion should be controlled and deliberate as you bring the knees up and return them back to the starting position.

3. Crunch on Exercise Ball: Sit on the ball with your feet flat on the floor. Let the ball roll back slowly. Now lie back on the ball until your thighs and torso are parallel with the floor. Cross your arms over your chest and slightly tuck your chin in toward your chest. Contract your abdominals raising your torso to no more than 45 degrees. For better balance, spread your feet wider apart. To challenge the obliques, make the exercise less stable by moving your feet closer together. Exhale as you contract; inhale as you return to the starting position.

4. Vertical Leg Crunch: Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground. Put your hands behind your head for support. Extend your legs straight up in the air, crossed at the ankles with a slight bend in the knee. Contract your abdominal muscles by lifting your torso toward your knees. Make sure to keep your chin off your chest with each contraction. Exhale as you contract upward; inhale as you return to the starting position.

5. Reverse Crunch: Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground. Put your hands beside your head or extend them out flat to your sides-whatever feels most comfortable. Crossing your feet at the ankles, lift your feet off the ground to the point where your knees create a 90-degree angle. Once in this position, press your lower back on the floor as you contract your abdominal muscles. Your hips will slightly rotate and your legs will reach toward the ceiling with each contraction. Exhale as you contract; inhale as you return to the starting position.

6. The ab exercise that almost all ab exercises are judged against is the simple crunch. The form is on your back, legs in air, knees and hips both at 90 degrees, arms in the air slightly pointed up and backward behind the head, and then contracting the abs while crunching up.

For thighs and butt do step-ups, squats, and lunges to the side and front and giant ones across the gym floor while holding dumbbells. Deadlifts will help everything as well. And so will side bends and torso rotations at the cable crossover machine. A trainer at your gym can show you all of these. Do these exercises twice a week to start with 3-4 days of rest in between, and then if you start getting results after 8 weeks, then leave it at 2 days, otherwise you can experiment with 3 days.

Continued in next post...
 
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Rich Weil, MEd, CDE replied to Rich Weil, MEd, CDE's response:
I also suggest interval training 1-2 times per week. The idea is to set up work to active rest ratios (work:active rest), and as you get more fit, you decrease the rest time and increase the work time. A simple example would be the following:

For example, if you currently run for 30 minutes at 6mph, try jogging for 5 minutes to warm up, then increase the speed to say 6.5mph and jog for 1-2 minutes (less time if you can't go that long), then jog again for a few minutes at your normal speed, then run again at the faster speed, and so on until you reach your time limit. The work:active rest ratios would be 2:3 if you ran for 2 minutes at 6.5mph and jogged for 3 minutes at 6mph. Over the course of the next few months you will get more fit if you continue with this type of training.

You can also get more specific and use heart rate. Your heart rate is an excellent indication of how hard you are working. For example, if your heart rate is at 70% of your predicted max when you jog at 6mph, then start at that speed and then increase the speed and/or elevation so that your heart rate increases to 85% or even 90% for 1 minute to start, then back to your jogging speed at a heart rate of 70%. That's a starting recommendation. Over time, your conditioning will improve and then your heart rate will be lower at the higher speeds and you can spend more time at the work speeds and less during the active rest period. You can always vary the ratios if they turn out to be too hard or too easy. 1:3 is a good starting ratio.

Finally, have them measure your body fat at the gym, and take circumference measurements too so that you have objective information to measure your progress. The standard circumference measurements are arms (flexed and relaxed), chest (after a normal exhale), shoulders (the widest part), waist (the narrowest part below the ribs and above the belly button), abdomen (across the belly button), buttocks (at the maximum extension of the buttocks), gluteal/thigh (high on the thigh at the groove where the buttocks end), mid-thigh (halfway between the crease in the groin and the top of the knee cap), and calf (at the maximum circumference, either with leg hanging freely off a table or with legs 8 inches apart and weight distributed evenly). Keep the tape horizontal during measurements and pull the tape lightly so it indents the skin only slightly.

I hope that helps.

Take care,
Rich
 
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doood_ replied to Rich Weil, MEd, CDE's response:
Thank you so much, Rich!

I have previously thought about mentioning, I love Web MD for all the info and articles. But I think you and Dr. Peeke are the most important & undiscovered resources here!

Thank you so much for responding to people personally! It informs and inspires so much more people than the asker!

Gratefully,
Natasha
 
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Rich Weil, MEd, CDE replied to doood_'s response:
You're very welcome Natasha. I'm glad you find the Fitness Community helpful. It's nice to get the feedback.

Take care,
Rich
 
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Haylen_WebMD_Staff replied to doood_'s response:
I agree with you Natasha! Rich and Dr. Peeke are inspiring, motivating and dedicated to our community members - I feel so fortunate to have access to their expertise. I find something I can use to improve my health at least once a week, if not more, in both the Diet and Fitness Community.

Thanks for your feedback!

Haylen


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