As fantastic as it would be, it’s impossible to spot reduce. Those trouble areas in your arms, hips and waist can’t be eliminated with just a few exercises -- but don’t worry, not all is lost. While you can’t magically eliminate these problems, with a few simple moves, you can tone and build lean muscle mass, which can improve your trouble zones.
When it gets warm, there are few better accessories than toned arms to sport under a tank top. Nicely shaped arms begin with toned shoulders and extend down across your biceps and triceps. Your biceps help bend your elbow, and your triceps straighten it. While men might crave bulging upper arms, women aim for long and smooth arms. A few easy exercises to tone your upper arms include bicep curls, French presses, hammer curls and push-ups. For each of these moves, do two to three sets. For the first set, select a weight that has you reaching fatigue by 15 repetitions. Do eight to 15 reps per set.
Hormones in your body naturally deposit fat on your hips, buttocks and thighs, more so than on a man’s. This area is also one of the hardest to shed excess fat because women are designed to have babies and require the reserved fat storage. Because your hips are part of a larger chain of joints that assist in bending forward, backward and side-to-side, you need to work multiple muscles to target this joint. Some of the major muscles in your hip are your gluteal muscles, adductor muscles and quadriceps muscles. Simple exercises that target these muscle groups include step-ups, front squats and side lunges. Do two sets of each exercise with 10 to 12 reps per set.
Along with your hips, because you are a woman, you are predestined to store fat around your thighs and abdomen wall more than a man. Any excess fat can be frustrating, but excess fat around your abdomen can be a sign of an even bigger problem. This is because this fat tends to be visceral fat, which increases your risk of heart disease, insulin resistance and high blood pressure. The best way to trim away excess fat from your stomach is through physical activity. A study published in “Diabetes Care” in 2009 showed that jogging 20 miles per week is the most efficient way to shed visceral fat. Other ways to strengthen and tone your abdomen muscles are planks, crunches and situps. According to a study published in the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” in 2007, crunches done on a stability ball engage your stomach muscles more than a traditional crunch on the floor.
To shed the fat, you need to get moving. Even if you don’t lose weight, exercise can reduce visceral fat and help you gain lean muscle mass. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that healthy adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, but if you are looking to lose weight, up that to 250 minutes per week. Examples of moderate-intensity physical exercise include yoga, water aerobics, cycling at 5 to 9 miles per hour and brisk walking.
- ShapeFit.com: Right to Bare Arms: Great Exercises for Women who Want Amazing Arms
- Scientific American: Why Does Fat Deposit on the Hips and Thighs of Women and Around the Stomachs of Men?
- Harvard Medical School: Exercise for Stronger Knees and Hips
- The American Council on Education: Butt & Hip Exercises
- Harvard Medical School: Taking Aim at Belly Fat
- MayoClinic.com: Belly Fat in Women
- Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise: Appropriate Physical Activity Intervention Strategies for Weight Loss and Prevention of Weight Regain For Adults
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: General Physical Activities Defined by Level of Intensity
- Diabetes Care: Effects of Exercise Training Intensity on Pancreatic β-Cell Function
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Electromyographic Comparison of a Stability Ball Crunch with a Traditional Crunch
Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.