Hi, My BMI is within the healthy range so I�m not too concerned with losing weight but feel that I could do with toning up so I�ve joined a gym so I can use their weights machines. I�ve got a training plan and am lifting weights 2-3 times a week but I find it a little tedious. How long does it normally take to start seeing results? If it�s going to take ages I don�t know if I�ll have the will power to keep going?! I started running in November and this has dramatically improved my overall fitness and toned my legs but my arms and stomach still need some work.
Firstly, well done on your improved fitness for running and forming an strength training habit at the gym. What you need to be aware of is that running is not going to tone your arms and stomach as aerobic exercise burns calories and targets cardiovascular fitness. It is not an effective option for toning and for stomach and arms neither is general weight training on weight machines.
If you are finding the gym program tedious then I would question the quality of the program you have been given and look to get a better one, ideally one that involves focused arm and stomach work using other equipment like bodyweight, dumbbells and cables as these more effectively promote toning. To see results takes as little as 3-6 weeks but that’s assuming you are effectively targeting the area you want results in. If you are not seeing results then you need to change something.
In addition, make sure you are pushing yourself on the strength exercises and try to have minimal rest between sets of exercise to maximise calorie burning and aerobic fitness benefit.
Specifically in your program you could include the following effective stomach exercises (assuming they aren’t in there already):
1.A well executed basic floor crunch with your knees in a bent position would be an excellent way to start, doing 2-3sets of 15 repetitions. At the top of each crunch movement, (which wouldn't be a big movement and would not involve your lower back leaving the floor) pause and hold for 1 second while trying to consciously squeeze your abdominal muscles. The most important thing about this exercise is not the repetitions but that you REALLY feel the muscles waking up, working and tiring out!
2. An exercise called "the plank" is a fantastic exercise designed for core strength and incorporates shoulder stability and upper body strength. For the starting position, lie on your front and have your elbows underneath your shoulders and feet tucked under your ankles, then lift your body off the floor so only your forearms and knees and shins are on contact with the floor.
Concentrate on drawing your tummy in towards your spine against the pull of gravity. If you can do this and hold for 30seconds and prevent your lower back from activating and getting involved then your core strength is strong enough to try a full plank where you progress the hold by lifting the knees up so only your forearms and toes will be in contact with the floor. Aim to hold for as long as possible and do it 2-3 sets.
You really want to do 1-3 core exercises (like the examples above) that could be incorporated into a whole body approach training program, with an emphasis on targeting your core muscles through the entire workout, at the same time as working the other parts of the body. This structure would be ideal and would significantly enhance the strength and tone of your stomach!
Hope this helps,
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