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How to Target, Tone, & Slim Your Trouble Zones

Everyone has a “trouble zone” that doesn’t get trim, sculpted, or contoured no matter what diet or exercise routine they try. For men and women alike, getting rid of stubborn belly fat is one of the toughest tasks. You don't need to be overweight to have a belly, and sometimes even elite athletes struggle to get a six-pack (or more!), and it’s usually more difficult for women than men. Technically, what your trainers have told you for years is right—you can’t really “target” fat loss through diet and exercise alone. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t options to get a more toned tummy.

Today more than ever, men and women don’t just want to be a healthy weight or slender in some cases. It’s just as important to be toned, and that’s a great thing! Toning muscles simply means making them bigger via hypertrophy, or the growing of muscles. Muscles get bigger and stronger when they experience micro-tears in the fiber. You don’t get "bigger" right after a great lifting set because that growth (the hypertrophy) actually occurs when the muscles repair themselves. This repair happens because the muscles are "learning" what they need to do to sustain such weight better in the future.  


What Does Muscle Growth Mean for Toning?

Bigger muscles look toned and they serve a functional purpose of protecting the rest of your body. Everyone naturally loses muscles as they get older, and muscles help to keep our skeleton healthy. However, for a lot of people (particularly those younger than 50), the primary goal of building muscles is because they look great. Nobody is going to actually see those muscles, though, if they’re covered with too much fat—no matter how big the muscles get!

Enjoying the benefits of getting toned and sculpted requires a relatively low level of fat. This varies from person to person and between men and women. Everyone is born with a certain number of fat cells and a unique distribution of those cells. Men and women tend to carry fat in different areas (such as women typically having more fat in the thighs), but on an individual basis, there’s also a lot of variance. When you lose weight through diet and exercise, you’re not actually losing anything. Fat cells are simply shrunk, and they will shrink in a pattern that is out of your control. Many women bemoan the fact that their breasts tend to “go” first when they start a new diet, and it’s rare that women notice their belly disappearing first. 


Targeting Your Trouble Zones

Just because your fat will reduce in a way you can’t control doesn’t mean you have zero control over your trouble areas entirely. For starters, consider what you want to achieve. Do you want a six-pack, or do you simply want a flat tummy? The former will require intensive and regular targeting of the core muscles through a variety of ever-changing exercises such as planks. This will need to be in tandem with a healthy diet designed to minimize fat. If you simply want a flat belly and a healthy core (but not necessarily a six-pack), you should focus on overall fat reduction and a moderate core workout.

Deciding what your goals are is the first step in creating a customized approach to tackling trouble zones. Many men and women also want a larger, shapelier backside. This is very achievable since the gluteus maximus is a very large muscle and there are various strength-training activities and cardio options to grow these muscles. Think weighted squats, lunges, and cycling instead of running. Considering your trouble zones as consisting of both muscles and fat will help you devise a game plan.


What if the Fat Really Won’t Budge?

Genetics is powerful, and sometimes even people who are underweight still struggle with a pooch. Liposuction and CoolSculpting are the two options for permanently removing fat. Both come with risks, especially liposuction, but promise lasting results. 


Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels

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