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Ask the Trainer: workout tips for women

Chris Freytag

Fitness expert Chris Freytag

The Ask the Trainer program at has become a leading resource for exercisers who are seeking to improve their health, prevent disease, lose weight, or get in shape.  Our panel of fitness experts field questions from advanced fitness buffs, new exercisers, and everyone in between.  Recently, a number of questions have come in from women who exercise regularly, but are not getting the results they are looking for.  Often they are looking to shape the abdomen, thighs, or hips, common trouble spots for women.  While encourages everyone to exercise for overall improved health and wellness, seeing results in the mirror is an important benefit that helps to keep exercisers motivated.  So two Ask the Trainer experts gave us their best body shaping tips for women.  First, Chris Freytag, shares her advice.  Check back later for more tips from fitness expert Kris Wayne.

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Get Your Rear in Gear: What is the best way for women to shape those common trouble spots, including the belly, hips, and thighs?

Chris Freytag: It is very common to have specific areas of your body that you would particularly like to thin out and tone up. The common misconception that if you work one body part hard enough or long enough you will lose weight in that area is just that – a fallacy. It would be nice if we could choose to lose our trouble spots–take an inch off our inner thighs, a few inches off our waistline. But it simply doesn’t work that way. When fat melts off your body, it melts off your overall body, not only in particular areas. And each person’s body eliminates body fat differently, depending on a variety of factors such as age, genetics, hormones and intensity of exercise.

Here is the bottom line: You cannot “spot reduce” body fat. You cannot tone fat. You cannot tighten fat. The only way to get rid of extra body fat is the old-fashioned way…through cardiovascular exercise.

However, even though “spot reducing” body fat doesn’t work, “spot sculpting” can! What we mean by “spot sculpting” is focusing on specific muscle groups when strength training. You can pick the exact muscle groups you want to work each day of the week.   The trick to spot sculpting is to be realistic about it. If you have overall body fat to lose, you aren’t going to see your buff biceps without eliminating the excess insulation. You can do all the ab crunches you want, but if you have a layer of extra fat over your muscles, you won’t be able to reveal the toned and sculpted muscles underneath.

So the only win-win strategy to work on those trouble spots is to make your routine a combination of several important elements:

  • Cardio exercise for body fat reduction. You can’t forget the old saying: calories in vs. calories out.  Cardio is heart healthy and it helps burn off fat!
  • Consistent strength training program to tone and sculpt your muscles.  Muscle is also the key to keeping your metabolism going through menopause.  Muscle eats more calories at a resting heart rate than body fat – so more muscles, better metabolism.
  • Clean eating (less sugar and processed food) is going to get rid of excess bloating and keep more fat from appearing.  Try to get lots of fiber in your diet, drink lots of water and eat a balanced diet.   Stay away from general junk to reduce cell inflammation and to help keep your calorie intake in line.

And by the way – a little self acceptance goes a long way.  We are born with certain genetics.  I’m not saying that you are stuck with  “fat genes” – I’m saying that genetics loads your gun, environment pulls your trigger …’s what you do, it’s what you eat and how you live our life and you can modify your body shape.  But sometimes we women get distorted body image and expect miracles and as we age, sometimes a little self respect is important.

Chris Freytag is a nationally known fitness expert on NBC-TV, the fitness expert for Prevention magazine, and author of 3 books. Chris holds a BA in Journalism and is a certified Group Fitness Instructor, Personal Trainer and Lifestyle and Weight Management consultant.  Visit her website for more information about her products or exercise DVDs.

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