Many moons ago, before I embraced healthy eating and weight lifting, I came across an artist in a gift shop selling plaques, one of which read: “I am in a sea of love. Love enfolds me, engulfs me, consumes me. I am love.”
Glancing at my mushy, out of shape body in the shop mirror, I said to the artist, “Well, if you omit the word love and insert the word flab, you’ve got it just about right.”
Was there ever a more repugnant four-letter word? It conjures up images of loose, sagging, floppy flesh with no definition. And while flab can take over even the thinnest of bodies, carrying extra weight makes it all the more prominent.
You know what I’m talking about. Ladies! Are your inner thighs intimately connected even though you are standing with your feet 30 inches apart? Are your buns resting comfortably near the back of your knees? Do your upper arms flap in the wind?
Gentlemen, stop that snickering — you’re about to get yours. Do you have to lean 45 degrees to the side in order to see the shoes you are wearing? When taking a selfie (don’t deny you take selfies), do you see one man in the photo, yet a half dozen chins? Are your pectorals looking a bit less chiseled and a lot more … wilted?
If you answered yes to the above questions, then flab is in action (or more accurately, inaction) on your body.
The solution: strength training. Building muscle firms, fills in and even gives the impression of lifting saggy areas. I completely changed my physique when I embraced weight lifting and made it the bulk of my workouts. You can, too.
Start by ditching unrealistic expectations. Skin loses elasticity with time. If you are 70, your arms will not look like they did at 25, I don’t care how many bicep curls and tricep dips you perform. Building muscle won’t get rid of loose, aging skin, but it will certainly improve its appearance .
Next, acknowledge that all the cardio in the world is not going to sculpt your body. It certainly is a healthy endeavor and can be a valuable tool for weight loss, but it’s not going to get rid of flab.
Third, know that carrying extra fat on your body will limit visible results. Combine clean eating with strength training and you get to watch your body transform.
Now the fun stuff: Lifting weights. I recommend compound lifts (these are exercises involving more than one muscle group): squats, deadlifts, chest presses, rows and planks — all favorites of mine.
No idea what any of those are? Find a quality trainer or join a group exercise class where proper form is strictly enforced.
Aim to lift three to four times per week. If muscles are sore, allow them to recover before working them again.
Progression is key. If your lifts feel easy, take it up a notch.
Options: Increase the weight you are lifting (my favorite). Or, keep the weight the same but slow down the lowering phase to three to five seconds. Adding volume can also increase the difficulty. I’ll occasionally throw a high-rep workout into my week and, my word, do I feel it the next day.
Ladies, don’t worry about bulking up. It takes seriously heavy lifting to build bowling ball biceps and gargantuan quads. If you start seeing more definition than you are comfortable with, lighten the weight and increase the reps so you’re building muscle endurance vs. mass.
Strength training is the most effective weapon available to fight flab, and a strong body is a healthy body. Now bust out a set of 100-pound sumo squats.