My name is Susan I am interested in toning and shaping especially my lower body, butt, hips and thighs. I have been jogging for a few years now and have been doing a little bit of weights mainly on my legs. I have seen some definition, but not what I want. Its not enough. I try to eat good, but I end up binging I have a sweet tooth. I am 40-years old. I also have stretch marks and loose skin that I cant tighten on my stomach. Can I achieve any results there as well. Please help! How can I get and achieve what you have achieved?
Susan I. Melbourne, Australia
As the emails are pouring in to the Bodybuilding for Babyboomers site, a common theme is appearing. How can I achieve a great physique? But, what Richard and I see too often are half commitments to the goal.
Great physiques are achieved through 100% commitment to the physique goal. That means cardio, that means a rigorous resistance training program, and that means NO CHEATING on the diet. Average levels of commitment can only yield average physiques. If you want a great physique, trust me it is well within your reach. But, you have to work for it. No gizmos, no gadgets, just the desire and commitment to the goal.
Running, is wonderful for women, especially in those problem areas of the hips, butt and thighs. But, your resistance program falls short by only training your lower body. You need to be strong and shapely not just on the lower part of your body, but on the upper as well. Shapely shoulders and arms and a strong back can go a long way in presenting the image of symmetry with a heavier bottom half.
Try Brad Schoenfeld's book, "Sculpting Her Body Perfect," for some ideas on workout routines that encompass your entire body.
Good nutrition for the long haul is necessary to remove the fat pockets and potentially tighten up skin. Without seeing pictures or knowing your weight loss history it's really not possible to determine if you have hope of tightening skin. Skin loses elasticity as we age, so the best advice is to always be in shape to avoid this problem.
Cravings for sugary carbohydrates is caused by a vicious cycle where ingesting these high glycemic carbohydrates raises insulin levels, resulting in even more carbohydrate cravings. It is therefore critical to break the cycle by going cold turkey on these sugary carbs. Eliminate white flour and sugar products from your diet and replace with complex carbohydrates that are low on the glycemic index.
Make yourself accountable, Susan. Write down your goals and review each day. Richard reminds me to use visualization techniques where I see myself as a fat burning machine during my reducing stages.
You must also write down every morsel of food that enters your mouth. So many people are not aware of how much food they ingest by grazing throughout the day. Take pictures to track your progress. And if you need to be even more accountable, send me a copy of your nutrition journal. It really makes you think twice about breaking you diet when someone else will see that journal entry.
Keep us posted on your progress, Susan. And turn your desire into a legendary result!
I'm a 58 year old cyclist in reasonably good shape who lifts to maintain strength for my difficult sport. I have seen great benefit to my leg power from performing squats and am currently squatting about 220. I weigh 165, so the weight is certainly not impressive, but before I go up substantially, I wanted to know whether current medical literature - or your experience warns of any potential problems to the back, spine, or discs for people our age as the result of squatting.
What about discs losing resiliency with age? Should we limit the load, or do some other exercise, or try to go up in weight as with any other exercise? I'd appreciate your advice.
John, Nashville, Tn.
You must be a maniac! All the competitive cyclists I've ever known were as nuts or more so than bodybuilders. Years ago when I owned a gym in Tallahassee, Florida, cyclists from Canada would come to town to train for competition. The weather was great and there were miles and miles of hills or flat land to cycle on.
One particular cyclist came to me with a problem: he ran out of gas before the end of the race and would be passed by those with greater endurance.
I suggested 20 repetition squats. Guess what? He began to win competitions! You obviously have already learned the secret of squats for strength AND endurance in competition cycling, but you are wise to realize adjustments have to be made as we age.
Weight training is the best exercise anyone can do for fitness, retarding muscle loss as we age, increasing or maintaining bone density, maintaining or increasing strength, etc. Heavy weights, the poundage's we tossed around in our 20s and 30s, wear down tendons, ligaments, joints, and unfortunately DISKS! So what do I suggest? You didn't mention your current routine (how often you squat or what other exercises you do), but if your doctor okays it, I would advise you to work quads twice per week and to keep squatting. You may just want to squat once a week and use the leg press the other session.
Using the leg press you can still handle big weights to tax the quads and force continued strength and endurance into those legs, yet you are not taxing the spinal column. When you are squatting or doing leg presses, vary the resistance and the repetitions and sets to keep from getting stale and to maintain healthy joints, tendons, ligaments and disks.
That is, I would do higher repetitions with less weight for 3-or-4 weeks at a time alternating with 3-or-4 weeks of increased weight and decreased repetitions.
1) Don't forget to keep proper form as you increase the weight! Keep your back arched and head up as you go down. Always keep your knees in line with the direction of your toes (to prevent undue stretching of ligaments).
2) Be careful to do a couple of stretching and warm-up exercises.
3) In addition, one neglected area of concern, especially for the over 40 athlete is SLEEP!
In summary, without correct form, the right eating (avoid undernourishment) and sleeping and warm-up habits, muscles and tendons may falter or tear! I still squat myself, but only once per week and I never go over 400 anymore; in fact, rarely over 220 like yourself, but I still leg press between 500-and-800 pounds, depending on which phase of training I'm in. I always warm up my knees with multiple sets of high repetition leg extensions, hoping that I will be able to continue weight training as long as I am here on earth.
Copyright 2002. 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.