Physique Transformation Help!

Going to the gym for physique transformation goals is a complex process that involves consistent effort, dedicated commitment and a non-fail attitude...
Physique Transformation Help!

Dear Richard and Diane:

I've been working out since last fall and I seem to have hit a plateau. There have been times when I haven't gotten into the gym but once a week, though I shoot for at least 3. In between, I try to get in as much walking at work as possible, mostly stairs from the 2nd to the 7th floor at least twice per day. My biggest problem is the layer of fat around my belly and hips.

I eat right, I do aerobics, and I weight/strength train. I also supplement with a multi-vitamin/mineral compound. I can't seem to shed the layer of fat hiding the work I'm doing on my abs! It's frustrating. I've recently stepped up the workouts (within the last 2 weeks) with little or no indication that it is helping.

I've read your website, and see where I might need some adjustment in the routine. I feel like age is definitely a factor (I'm 47, 5'5" and about 120lbs. with about 19% body fat - something my physician calls "under weight" HUH?) I don't want bulk, but tone and firmness - enough to decrease the look of my physical age (and I'm told I don't look 47).

Maybe I expect too much for the time I have to spend in the gym. It is difficult to think of going every day because of family and work commitments. Any suggestions?

Thighs and legs have come in pretty well, and I definitely don't want to bulk up my calves or thighs - my legs have pretty good shape with good curves of my calf muscles and fairly slender (but could still be firmer) thighs. My greatest complaint is that mid section (like most). HELP! I've almost fallen in the category of giving up, but I refuse. I'm trying to show my teenaged daughters (18, 16 and 14) that you don't have to be a young woman to look great!

Help me prove my point!

Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to your input.

Karen F
Houston, TX

Hi Karen!

If only it were that easy to hit the gym once per week and get results! It's not hard to achieve a legendary physique at the age of 47, but it does take commitment, consistency and a lifestyle change. Physique transformations take place over a long period of time, and that's the important message you want to send to your daughters.

Long term goal commitment is the choice where real gains towards health, wellness and longevity create a fabulous physique. Searching for a quick fix or the magic bullet will keep you in a constant search mode, with few results for your efforts.

But, the biggest problem with the quick fix routine of hitting the gym only once per week is the weekend warrior syndrome. So, many baby boomers suffer from injuries due to overexertion and overtraining with the weekend warrior syndrome that the term Boomeritis was coined several years ago to label the injuries suffered by members of our generation that train on an infrequent basis.

What You Don't Know About Overtraining!
Written by Tammy Thomas. The general definition of overtraining is this - a syndrome occurring in athletes who train too frequently/in excess OR who may not allow for adequate recovery from intensive exercise. Read on to find out about the basics of overtraining!
[ Click here to learn more. ]

Let's take a look at your program. You mention that you shoot for the gym three times per week, but usually get there only once per week. You've made a new commitment to consistency in training in the last two weeks, but are frustrated with the results.

Karen, if only it were that simple, everyone would have that desired legendary physique. A physique transformation requires a commitment of at least five days per week in the gym and sound nutrition on a daily basis. If your schedule is very tight, invest in some home equipment. A bench, weight plates, barbell and dumbbells are all that is needed for an effective and time efficient home workout that will get you to your goals.

But, you must find the inspiration so that you are committed to completing your workouts at the gym or at home. Find some great music to inspire you, keep photos of desired physiques close at hand and re-read your goals on a daily basis to stay motivated.

Your physician mentions that you are underweight at 120 pounds. Weight training will allow you to shed that torso fat while building lean muscle mass. You'll be changing your body composition that results in a better bodyfat percentage while keeping the doctor happy about your scale weight.

Karen, you mention a layer of fat around your belly. This is a very common factor for both our male and female baby boomer readers. The key to abdominal fat is usually found in the nutrition plan. Your email states that you "eat right." That always sends warning flags up for us when training clients, as most people don't know what's involved in eating right to produce that legendary physique.

Your protein-carbohydrate ratio will need to be in the right proportions. Average guidelines for proteins are in the 40-50% range, carbohydrates in the 40-50% range and fats at 10-20%. And then there is the discussion about calories. Is a calorie just a calorie?

That depends on your physique goals. If you are looking for a transformation that includes abs, then you need to keep your caloric intake lower in fats and absolutely clean. That means only high quality complex carbohydrates from green vegetables, fruits with low glycemic indices like strawberries and oatmeal. And proteins should be lean. Chicken, egg whites and whey protein are excellent examples.

Realistic goals go a long way towards lifestyle changes that produce physique transformations. Two weeks is far too short of a time to expect a change unless you are in the last two weeks of contest preparation. Consistently go to the gym for two months and stick to your diet and I'll bet you'll see changes in two months.

You also need to be realistic about physiques. At 20% bodyfat, you don't have the right body composition for your abdominal muscles to show. Drop the bodyfat percentages down a few points by following a sound nutrition plan and consistently utilizing strength training and you will see your abs. But, remember, this will take some time.

Richard's recommendations for an abdominal routine include push-aways, crunches, leg lifts and knee-ups. Just crunch, no weights are needed. What's a push-away? Push yourself away from the table. Once again, the reminder…The key to abdominals is in the nutrition plan. [For a fuller presentation on abdominal development see our article on abs by clicking here.]

Karen, in terms of a weight lifting routine, your timing is perfect. We just wrote an article with two new routines that you can take to a trainer to personalize to meet your individual needs. Click here for the workout routines.

You've mentioned the 40+ factor. Just how big of a factor is age in your success? That choice is up to you. Baby boomers must take into consideration longer recovery times, slower metabolisms and physiological changes when designing nutrition and exercise routines. But, that doesn't mean you can't reach high goals, it just means making modifications and adjustments when planning your routines.

Going to the gym for physique transformation goals is a complex process that involves consistent effort, dedicated commitment and a non-fail attitude. Couple effort, commitment and attitude with sound nutrition and training and we'll be posting your physique transformation on this site a few months from now.

Be sure to check out Diane and Richards site

Train hard, train smart and train with a purpose!
Diane Fields, Member. Legendary Fitness, LLC.
Richard Baldwin, Member. Legendary Physique, LLC.

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Copyright 2004. Diane Fields, Member. Legendary Fitness, LLC. All rights reserved.

The advice given in this column should not be viewed as a substitute for professional medical services. Before undertaking any exercise or nutrition program, Legendary Fitness, LLC advises all to undergo a thorough medical examination and get permission from their personal physician.