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Seeking Muscles - Not Weight Loss - Help Me
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VBarkley posted:
I'm 53 and a size zero. But I'm flabby, really flabby . My exercise consists of walking 2-3 miles per day; and free weights 3 times per week. In terms of diet, I eat everything, but I drink only water and avoid all fried foods, added salt and sweets (desserts).

I would like to build mass and muscle (tone). Can certain foods help/hurt my cause? What exercises will help tone, particularly those stubborn places such as legs and stomach?
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Rich Weil, MEd, CDE responded:
Hi Vbarkley,

As you may know, you cannot spot reduce or target a specific area of your body for fat reduction (e.g., you can't do abdominal exercises and expect to burn fat on your abdomen). It would be nice if you could get on the Elliptical machine and say, "Okay, today, burn fat from my thighs," or, "Okay situps, get rid of my love handles," but that's not how it works. Resistance exercises will tone the muscle under the excess fat, and they can even help tighten you up enough to lose a pants size (without losing any weight), but it will not reduce the fat.

I'm not sure when you say you are flabby that you mean excess skin (perhaps from weight loss), excess fat, or a combination of both. If it's skin, then how much it will tighten depends on your age, length of time the skin was stretched and how much it was stretched, how much weight you lost, amount of collagen and elastin in your skin, and genetics (you have no control over that). Lotions to tighten skin do not work. Aerobic and resistance exercise can help as it will tighten the skin to some degree, plus it will tighten and tone muscles under the skin, which can pull on the skin and help to tighten it. If it's excess fat, then cardio and resistance exercise will help shrink the fat cells. At a size zero I'm guessing you just need to tone up.

When you do your workout, keep the reps between 10-15, and 3 sets per exercise. You want a lot of training volume (sets and reps combined) to get the results you're looking for.

Check out www.exrx.net for pictures and videos for dozens of exercises organized by muscle group.

If you work out at home you can check out exercise tubing for resistance exercise. Tubing is inexpensive and versatile (you can do lots of exercises with them even in a chair) and a great way to get started with resistance exercise. You can start with a set of three for about $20. They come in colors to denote the tension. If you order them make sure to order the strap that allows you to attach the tube to a door (this is essential for many exercises), and if you want to work your legs, ask for leg straps. Here are some vendors that sell them.
www.performbetter.com/catalog/default.asp
www.power-systems.com

And here's a site with great videos http://www.body-mind-strength.com/resistance_tube_exercises/resistance_tube_exercises.html
And 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.

Continued on next post
 
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Rich Weil, MEd, CDE replied to Rich Weil, MEd, CDE's response:
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.

You might also consider hiring a personal trainer. If money is an issue, then you might consider just one session to learn some exercises, and maybe some follow-ups later on, maybe every 8 weeks or so.

As for foods, you can post your diet-related questions to the Diet Community:
http://exchanges.webmd.com/diet-exchange

I hope that helps. Feel free to post back if you have more questions.

Take care, Rich
 
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VBarkley replied to Rich Weil, MEd, CDE's response:
Rich,

You've been extremely helpful. The only place I have excess skin is my stomach. So maybe the rest of my body is suffering from excess fat, although I'm not fat. It's more like "jello," no muscle definition.

With that visual in mind, here are my follow up questions:

In terms of weights, I was doing one set gradually increasing the number of repetitions and weight. I had arrived at 30 repetitions and 5 lbs. Now I'll do multiple sets of 10-15, although that takes much longer

If I do 3 sets instead of one, I'll have to lighten the weights to 2 or 3 lbs. In terms of getting the results I seek, should I gradually increase the weight or leave the weight lighter and gradually increase the repetitions?

Do you think that a rowing machine would be helpful in toning my entire body? I recently tried one and I find it fun to do, which is great in terms of sticking to an exercise routine. But I don't want to invest in one, if it's not going to substantially expedite my goals and keep me there.

Your assistance is greatly appreciated.
 
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Rich Weil, MEd, CDE replied to VBarkley's response:
Hi VBarkley,

30 reps is a lot. I suggest that you increase the weight and do 10-15 reps, and build up to 3 sets.The thing is, you will need different weight for different exercises. For example, you won't be able to lift the same weight for side lateral raises as you will for biceps curls. You should select a weight that you can lift 10-15 reps and get fatigued at the last rep (with good form). So for example, if you can lift 8 pounds with biceps curls 20 times, then the weight is too light, and you would want to go to 10 pounds and do fewer reps. But for lateral raises, you may only be able to lift 3 or 5 pounds to fatigue at 15 reps. And when the weight gets easy at 15 reps, then it's time for more weight.

Yes, the rowing machine is awesome. Have you ever seen the physiques of elite rowers? Yes, they have great genes, but still, it's the activity that causes those genes to express themselves. Go for it.

Now that you have a base of strength and tone from the lifting you've been doing, you might consider measuring your circumferences. Not everything will change (as you might have already had results from what you've been doing), but it's good to have some objective data and not just a personal perception. 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.

Keep me posted.
Rich
 
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VBarkley replied to Rich Weil, MEd, CDE's response:
Wow. You're right. I never thought about an objective measure, but that makes a lot of sense. You're the best. Thanks for your input and I will keep you posted.
 
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Rich Weil, MEd, CDE replied to VBarkley's response:
You're welcome. I look forward to hearing back. Rich


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