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07 Jan 2008

Fitness doc PLEASE help
Sorry a number of qs all in one post!

Firstly my sister has pointed out to me that my waist has thickened over the years. I always thought this was due to age - I am 34 now and have one child. But I have always kept in shape, am 1,68m, 53.8kg and do weights and cardio 5/6 days a week.

But it is true my waist is straighter now, less curvy. My arms and legs are the fittest they have been but my waist is blocky n my hips straighter - I used to be a slender coke bottle shape.

I couldn’t figure out why my waist was thickening up but after my sister’s comment I googled n read up on it and am shocked to discover that my being fit is to blame. I love very heavy deadlifts and squats as well as hanging leg raises – it seems these are the culprits. But how can I keep my legs, hams, lower back n tummy in shape if I totally avoid these exercises? Won’t I start to get soft in these areas? Also, I read that once a waist is thickened it can’t ‘un-thicken’. You can’t downsize yr waist once it has been built up. Is this true? I desperately want my small waist back, I thought age and childbearing had thickened it but now find out its compound exercises.

I also want to know if back exercises can contribute to a thicker-waisted look. I have a very solid back - both upper and lower back - again from very heavy exercises. Could this be contributing to me looking blocky in the middle? But then I like having the line down the middle of my back; must I sacrifice this if I want a smaller waist measurement?

Regarding ab exercises, what is the way to do them without recruiting the waist? It seems I have to drop hanging leg raises and weighted abs completely. I do know not to do weighted obliques and have never done them, but still my waist has definitely thickened.

Second is this true, which I read on the net -
“When doing cardio the body initially uses fat for its fuel however this is not an effective source after about 20 minutes and the body uses lean muscle. Who wants to see their muscle fade away!?”

The article says women shd only do cardio for 20 mins max, based on the above theory. Is it true?

Thirdly are there any exercises which help with slimming down the knee? You know that pocket of fat which sometimes sits around a woman’s knees even tho she is fit. What can whittle it down?

Fourthly - the best, best exercise for genetically stubborn calves is which one?

Thanks for yr answers, sorry for hectic post!

Heidi vd Walt
Answer 387 views

01 Jan 0001

Hi Heidi

Sorry for the delay getting back to you. I'll try to answer the questions one by one.

1. Difficult to know whether your waist issue is related to the recruitment of muscles when you do situps to begin with. I doubt it, actually. I suspect that the answer is more related to doing the cardio and not the fact that you do situps and specific exercises for the muscles of the waist. SO don't worry too much about that, just focus on the cardio, which is likely the answer.

2. That rumour about 20 minutes is compleltely untrue. You won't only burn fat in the first 20 minutes. In fact, it's usually written the other way around and the articles usually tell you that you only start burning fat later on. But both are wrong. You'll burn fat no matter when you exercise, how you exercise. Ideally, you should be aiming for 45 to 60 minutes per day, and a a moderate intensity. And don't worry about what you read on the net - if it's not a credible source, forget it.

3. Again, cardio training, because you can't spot reduce. You can't reduce fat through any specific exercises. You have to aim for whole-body exercise that burns fat. And that means cardio training, not small muscle group exercise. I would focus on cardio training - running, cycling, swimming, taebo classes, spinning, aerobics etc. and make that the focus of your training. The smaller percentage, say 25% of your training, can be specific exercises, for which the gym's circuit session is probably the best place to begin. But focus on cardio, 4 or 5 days a week, for the recommended time.

4. Heel raises are probably best, but the calves are stubborn, you're right. Here, the mix of all the other exercises you do will also help, but if you do a few sets of calf raises 2 or 3 times a week, combined with some cycling, running, you should see some change.

Good luck
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