While you can't spot reduce (lose weight in a specific part of the body) because fat loss occurs all over, you can hone in on specific spots and build up the muscle structure underneath the skin to tighten and tone the appearance. There are three common places that people site as their trouble areas: the tummy, the saddlebags and the underarms. If one of these is your big hang up, don't resign to keeping it under wraps for the rest of your life. With a little planning and hard work, you can tackle your trouble zone and change it for good.
The Spare Tire
Belly bulge is arguably the number one cause of body insecurity. Belly fat is the most dangerous for your health, but perhaps one of the most simple to fix. You may be scoffing at my use of the word "simple," but while you can't spot reduce, you can come closest around the middle. Belly fat is a classic sign of poor diet, so to take inches off your middle and tighten its appearance, clean up your diet by avoiding processed grains, saturated fats and sugars. You can then add additional tone and definition by doing core work, like planks and nip in the waist even further by focusing on oblique work, like lateral bends. Exercise will build you abs but no one will see the results of that hard work if your diet keeps a layer of fat over the top of them.
The saddlebags are the area right on the outside of the hips, usually accompanied by a big line under the butt cheek and some nice, dimply cellulite. To take inches off your thighs and smooth them out, think outside the squat: your legs are used to working in a forward or backward motion, so work them all the way around with lying leg raises using bands or ankle weights for resistance. Do leg raises at all angles to hit the outer and inner thighs. Focus on glute work as well, like deadlifts, as a higher, firmer butt will elongate the legs, making them appear thinner.
The Bat Wings
The tricep under-arm jiggle is a big complaint among women, causing many to forgo tees and tanks even in the summer. Firm up your bat wings with tricep exercises: kickbacks, extensions and pushups. Experiment with different arm positions like overhead extensions, pull downs, negative reps and change up the hand positioning and tempo of your pushups to challenge the triceps in ways they aren't used to.
A proper diet and exercise will help to shrink the body all over, but to see results in these specific areas, get specific with your workouts. Instead of spending so much time hiding your trouble zones, spend some time in the gym giving them a little positive attention and soon they may be your new favorite part to show off.
Kelly Turner is a Seattle-based ACE-certified personal trainer and professional fitness writer. She began writing after becoming frustrated with the confusing and conflicting fitness information in the media and the quick-fix, gimmick-centered focus of the fitness industry itself. Her no-nonsense, practical advice has been featured on DietsInReview.com, FitnessMagazine.com, Yahoo! Shine, and she has a regular fitness column in The Seattle Times. Kelly has her own blog at www.kellyturnerfitness.com or follow her on Twitter @KellyTurnerFit.