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Real Life Nutrition Questions Answered

Real Life Fitness Questions Answered

Emma Brown

Janet Aylott

Kelly Marshall
Fitness Consultant


Why can I not reach my target heart rate on the X-trainer?


I've recently joined a gym and now go 4 times a week. When I go I do the cardio programme on the cross-trainer for 30mins which tells me I should reach a target heart rate of 155, however mine never gets here, instead the program cancels and switches to manual. I know there are staff on hand to help out with this sort of thing however I find it intimidating. Please help.

Also I have lost nearly five stone in recent years but can't seem to lose my bingo wings, any suggestions?


Our expert says...


No problem, I completely understand that it can feel intimidating in the gym environment and the exercise machines sometimes seem to have a life of their own. What can easily happen is that an exercise machine will look to achieve a certain target heart rate by increasing your resistance, but this is not guaranteed to get your heart rate to the required level in the required time. Also, the sensors need to have your heart rate reading all the time to monitor and adjust the resistance accordingly and this isn't always possible for various reasons (e.g. faulty or sweating sensors). As a result of the aforementioned reasons an exercise machine may decide it would be easier for you to monitor your heart rate to build yourself up to that target heart rate and so converts to manual so you have entire control of the resistance levels and speed etc.

I would suggest you look to use the manual setting on the cross-trainer and keep increasing the resistance steadily over your workout duration to try and build up to reaching your 155 target heart rate. The program doesn?t matter to be honest, except maybe in terms of addressing the potential boredom factor, but what provides the cardiovascular improvements is reaching your target heart rate.

With relation to the ?Bingo Wings? I would suggest:

The best way to target this area is to combine exercises that target both the triceps (back of arm) and biceps (front of arm) because to effectively improve the appearance of the upper arm you have to target all the parts that make up that area. Also, the quality of the movement is vital as if individuals cheat then the real difference is often not achieved.

An example of something you could do would be:

- Press ups (knees or full) - 10-12 reps

- Dumbell (can of beans!!) tricep kickbacks - 12 reps each arm

- Dumbell (can of beans!!) overhead triceps extensions

- Overhead triceps extension- from a seated position with arms extended overhead, turn your forearms so your palms face inwards towards each other then bend at the elbow and lower the hands towards and then behind the head. Then extended the arms again towards the ceiling, ensuring you keep your elbows close together, (as if you were holding a basketball between your elbows), this targets the back of the upper arm.

- Dumbell (can of beans!!) Biceps curls - 12 reps each arm

You would aim to do the above with strict form, (get your technique checked from a fitness professional if you felt comfortable enough) and in a circuit with no rest between the exercises till you have completed all three! Then take a maximum of 2 minutes rest and then go through the circuit again. Look to build up to doing the circuit 3-4 times. Press ups target the chest muscles and the triceps together, then triceps kickbacks isolate the triceps and biceps (obviously) target the front of the upper arm.

With relation to reps, this is possibly the most important factor that determines the real changes an individual can get. Too often, women (generally speaking), don't use enough weight to fatigue the muscle because of a fear of increased muscle size/bulk, based on an old myth and miss-education. If you don't fatigue the muscle, you don't get change!

So, with whatever weight you use, (dumbells, bean cans, tubing etc), if you can get to 12 reps and keep going then the weight is too light or your technique is allowing you to cheat! The best rule to work to is to try and reach 'failure' of the muscle before 15 reps, using the right weight and good technique. Achieving a burning/fatiguing feeling in the desired muscle group is the ultimate aim and means you are going to optimise your results.

I hope this helps!


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