Monday, January 20, 2003

Personal Trainer

Even thin people can have high body fat

By Dave Patania

Question: I am a 42-year-old-female who wants to firm up. I am thin, but I feel and look flabby.

Answer: Simply put, you need to gain lean muscle mass. There are many people who are thin but who lack muscle tone and definition.

Use of the scale isn't always an accurate indicator of what is going on with regard to your body composition. Many "thin" people are surprised to learn they have high levels of body fat.

What this means is that due to factors such as (but not limited to) age, lack of activity or inadequate nutrition, people can lose lean muscle mass. When you lose lean muscle mass, your body is less efficient at utilizing calories for energy production and more efficient at storing them as fat. It is very important to get your body fat tested every six to 12 weeks so you can accurately assess what format of eating and exercise works best for you. It is a great tool because it allows you to track your progress easily. As you hit the weights and eat right, your body fat should drop and lean muscle mass go up. If they don't, you can make adjustments.

You can get your body fat tested at any health club or fitness facility for a small or sometimes no fee. I recommend getting it done by a fitness professional who can recommend what you can do if the results are less than desirable.

You easily can add lean muscle mass by starting a basic weight- training program that works all the major muscle groups: legs, back, chest, shoulders, arms, lower back and abdominals.

For a complete physique, add aerobic work - walking, aerobics or swimming - to keep your heart and lungs strong, stretching exercises to promote optimal blood flow and muscular flexibility and a balanced diet to give you all the nutrients you need to build and maintain a well-conditioned, well-toned body.

Several weeks into your program, don't be afraid to push things a little bit and shoot for higher levels of intensity to get your muscle mass on a constant rise. Check with your doctor before starting and stay focused on your goal.

Contact certified personal trainer Dave Patania by e-mail:

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