I have a rule that if I get asked the same question by two or more people, then it probably warrants a Blog Post as, chances are, lots of other people would benefit from the answer.
Last week I received the below email from one of my newer Bootcamp members, who had her first baby almost 10 months ago.
“I just wanted some advice on tackling a couple of problem areas:
• can’t shift last bit of fat around the top of my thighs (inner and outer)
• how to improve firmness/elasticity of skin on my tummy (issue doesn’t seem to be excess fat but more firmness of the skin)
I go to the gym a couple of times a week and currently do:
• 30 minutes on running machine (5 minute walk, 25 minute running)
• 20 minutes on cross trainer
• 10 minutes on rowing machine
Any suggestions and tips would be hugely appreciated :-)”
So the first thing I noticed is that her gym routine is 100% cardio and, having chatted to her further, it is all steady-state cardio.
What do I mean by “steady-state”? Well, where she says she does 20 mins on the cross trainer, that is literally 20 minutes at one pace. Same with the 25 minute run and the 10 minute row. And this is probably fairly representative of most people’s gym routine. There is nothing wrong with the above programme, if your goal is to get good at plodding. If you are training for a running event then the above might be useful. But if fat-loss is your goal, and you really want to change the shape of your body then the above routine is pretty much useless, I am sorry to say.
A far better use of her time would be to grab some weights and get lifting. The lady in question has been coming to Bootcamp for a couple of months, so she has now got a good foundation of strength and is used to mastering her own bodyweight during exercises such as squats, burpees, press-ups etc. So I advised her to start incorporating a bit of extra resistance in the form of dumbbells or kettlebells (and recommended that she seek a few pointers on technique from a member of staff).
Then, if she really cannot bear to part company with the cardio machines, I recommended that she might want to try some interval training at the end of her resistance training. A good place to start would be 10 minutes on any machine, alternating between 30 seconds hard work (either fastest speed possible or hardest resistance / incline) and 30 seconds rest (i.e. very gently keep the legs ticking over). Obviously the exact level of “hard” versus “easy” will vary from person to person. If you have just had a baby, then sprintng away on the treadmill is not going to do your pelvic floor any favours!
With specific regard to tackling her thighs, I mentioned to her that people who carry weight around their bum / hips / thighs (i.e. the classic pear shape) tend to be in relative oestrogen dominance. This is a massive topic in itself, and I put together a great little video a while back about managing hormonal imbalances. You can download it for free HERE.
But in summary, the main pointers to help pear-shaped ladies are:
– Avoid xenoestrogens (more on that here: http://www.energeticnutrition.com/vitalzym/xeno_phyto_estrogens.html)
– Consider supplementing with a high quality fish oil to boost Omega 3s, as well as consuming avocado, olive oil, flax, coconut oil.
– Include plenty of cruciferous veg (broccoli, cauliflower) as well as onions, garlic, and spices such as turmeric.
– Keep soy coumption and alcohol (esp. hops based booze) to a minimum.
As for improving the firmess and elasticty of the skin around the tummy, the main thing is to hydrate well. Ideally you should aim for 1L water per 50lb bodyweight, but even just 2L daily is a good satrting point (and a lot more than most people consume)! A diet rich in vegetables and EFAs (essential fatty acids) will also help to restore the skin, as well as incorporating some weight training and building more lean tissue i.e. muscle.
So in short, to tackle her problem areas she should:
– Drink more water
– Do more high intensity, weight-based training
– Eat good quality, nutrient dense foods
Hopefully that helps to answer your questions.
**NB: The exercise prescription in this article is not aimed at the immediate postpartum period. If you have recently had a baby, then your focus should be first on restoring your core. THIS article I wrote last month might be more suitable.