Strength training is the only way you can naturally change your body's shape. Many think that if they lose weight through cardio, cardio, cardio the fat will melt away to reveal the toned physique they've always wanted. Unfortunately, the body shape you have when you are overweight is pretty close to the body shape you will have when you lose the weight, just smaller. The only way to truly reshape your body is to build muscle to balance out your physique. The good news is:
1. Working out is cheaper than surgery.
2. Working out is healthier and safer than being sliced open.
3. It's always more rewarding when you work for it.
You might actually be surprised what you can achieve with some well-placed strength training. It's about more than doing lunges if you want nice legs though: you can actually manipulate other areas to create a particular look. Think of it as a system of checks and balances--or optical illusions, if you will. Here are some examples:
Want Longer Legs?
Lift the butt with cable machine kick backs, lunges, and weighted bridges. The saggier and droopier your butt cheeks, the shorter you look from behind. And that crease that separates your glutes from your thighs? That's not supposed to be there. You get rid of it by incinerating fat with proper diet and building round, pert glute muscles that rappers write songs about. The smooth transition from glute to thigh will have your legs looking a mile long.
Want Smaller Hips?
Build up your shoulders to balance out. This was me: when I was younger and didn't know anything about fitness (or what men find attractive, for that matter) I hated my hips. I felt like a walking bowling pin and so it seemed natural if I lost weight, my bottom half would shrink. I lost weight, but my proportions stayed the same. Turns out, my hips and thighs deserved a break, because the issue was my complete lack of muscle mass on top. I started training my shoulders, and wouldn't you know it, I balanced out and can't wear a tank top without stopping traffic. (Humble, aren't I?)
Think There's Nothing You Can Do for Your Killer Cankles?
There is hardly any fat to suck out of your ankle area, or muscle to build up for that matter, but you can make them appear slimmer by working out your calves. It's pretty hard to put on significant size in your calf muscles, but adding calf raises to your workout routine will give a sleeker more toned appearance that will streamline your lower leg. Another helpful hint: don't wear over the ankle socks. Anything above the ankle knob shortens and widens the appearance of your legs.
I'm a firm believer that you should strut what you got with confidence, but I also believe the body is a work in progress. Don't like something? Change it!
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.