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Unread 09-08-2014, 07:26 PM   #1
elomlo-middie
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Trying to get in shape for a convention?

Hello there. So, lately I've been looking at my body and realizing I want to change it. I want to be fit, but the commonly suggested exercise of running isn't good for me. I can't run, because I have this medical condition that means I can't run or jog any distance. I'm 5'2 and weigh about 102 pounds, but I have a lot of stretch marks on my thighs and a stomach that sticks out. I'm constantly obsessing over those two areas of myself. It makes me insecure, and I know I should be happy with my weight, but I'm not. I'm 22.2% body fat, which is healthy for my age. We had to measure all of this in gym class, and my friends were complaining about their weights and such, but neither of them have bulging stomachs like mine. They say I'm skinny since I have a thigh gap, but I also have a lot of thigh stretch marks. Thigh gaps are merely hereditary, which is why I have one.
Anyways, long backstory aside, I'm going to use my next cosplay to motivate myself to get in shape. I'm cosplaying Levi, from Attack on Titan, and he is very fit. So, I'm going to take advantage of that and try to get fit by December. What are some exercises I can do? Please note that a change in diet isn't really an option, other than cutting back on what I eat and drink for dinner. And if someone would like to, perhaps we could be fitness buddies and talk through here or email or texting? It might help to keep us on track. Thank you in advance for any help you can give.
~Middie
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Last edited by elomlo-middie : 09-08-2014 at 07:28 PM. Reason: .
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Unread 09-08-2014, 08:29 PM   #2
lemuries
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Hi Middie,
It was explained to me that developing better fitness is an umbrella term covering several improvements that people can make in their lives. A)Improving diet, B)improving cardio capacity, C) improving muscle strength, and D) avoiding substances that may not be healthy.

It sounds like you are looking for advice in the B & C categories. Cardio is said to improve your heart, your lungs, your circulation, and your metabolism. Muscle is supposed to use up more calories, as well as provide the good silhouette if you stop hiding the contours under healthy & unhealthy fat layers. Changing your body is said to be most efficient if you work on both of these together.

Finding cardio that isn't running and jogging makes me wonder if you have access to ellipticals or stationary bikes or a pool?

I'd like to defer to some of our more experienced muscle guys, though my personal trainer agrees with those who say to focus on certain muscle groups in isolated days and then give the muscles days to rest while you work on other muscle groups. Plenty of people suggest a weekly routine like:

Day 1 - legs,
Day 2 - cardio,
Day 3 - front upper body,
Day 4 - cardio,
Day 5 - back upper body,
Day 6 - cardio,
Day 7 - rest.

Some people who were expressing their excitement about the "plank 30 day challenge" suggest that their bellies get flatter, but I don't trust fan-talk.
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Unread 09-09-2014, 01:35 AM   #3
Echos
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I recommend weights at least 3 days a week focusing on different muscle groups. At 22.2% body fat you do not need to loose weight, I would not make changes to diet except maybe to increase protein intake if you start an intense training program. At this point changes will come from strengthening muscles. If you are still thinking you have a big stomach at 22% BF I suspect the culprit is probably weak stomach muscles and possibly bad posture.

While planks and crunches won't make your stomach smaller, strengthening those muscles will help tighten a flabby stomach. Compound fully body exercises are good in this department too.

Also check your posture. Often people focus on the shoulders but sticking your butt out rotates your hips back and pushes your stomach foreword (again -weak stomach muscles compound this). Practice tucking your butt under when standing up and think of your hip bones as headlights. They should be facing directly foreword not angled down or up.

If you want cardio but can't run try swimming.
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Unread 09-09-2014, 10:18 AM   #4
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You might want to try some Pilates or similar exercises. There are tons of free Pilates classes you can follow on YouTube or OnDemand. These exercises are great because they all more or less engage your core. It sounds like you are at the low end of the healthy weight range and that your tummy is round because you lack muscle tone rather than due to an excess of body fat.
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Unread 09-09-2014, 12:52 PM   #5
SigfriedWild
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Levi has a thin, short, wiry build. From what you've said, you're physically almost in the same boat. What I recommend is instead of trying to build up lots of muscle, try for definition and tone. That means lots of repetitions for any exercise you do. To build up tone and strength, I recommend push ups, bicycles (hands behind head on the floor, touch elbow to opposite knee) and squats. Upper body, core, and legs. If you want more, just find another exercise that targets one of those and rotate it out. One of the keys is to keep doing different exercises to get different muscles active.
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Unread 09-09-2014, 01:20 PM   #6
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I agree with a lot of the replies to this suggesting that you should focus on strength training. A bit of cardio when you can should be part of any healthy lifestyle, but this can be through hiking, walking, swimming, biking, calisthenics, etc. As far as strength training goes, I would recommend a combination of bodyweight exercises and weighted exercises (if you'd like specifics, just ask).

Posture was mentioned as a possible cause for your "bulging belly," but it could also be due to diet, and of course it could just be where your body stores fat. As someone who suffers from an inflammatory bowel disease and multiple food allergies, I've noticed that my stomach appears to change size and shape depending on what I eat, even when I'm in total remission. You might want to consider going on a liquid diet for a day (smoothies, natural fruit juice, almond milk, but absolutely no dairy) and see if it makes any difference. My natural waistline is about 27 inches, but if I eat foods that cause irritation or inflammation it will expand to almost 29 inches. This might not be the case for you, but it's worth a shot.

I highly recommend working on lower back stretches and exercises that target the midsection.
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Unread 09-09-2014, 03:29 PM   #7
Floating World
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Oh, that's a good point about diet. When I eat bread, pasta, cereal, basically any sort of simple carbs, my belly will bloat. I have pretty defined abs but if I don't watch my diet, I have defined abs on a little round belly instead of a flat one. It makes a big difference. (I also have to avoid dairy and alcohol.)
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Unread 09-09-2014, 04:57 PM   #8
elomlo-middie
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Thank you all so much for your speedy help so far. I don't have acess to a pool, but I can see about possibly getting a membership to my local YMCA. It would be easy enough for me to just bike over there. I'll see if I can convince my dad to let me.
What is a good way to start building muscle? I'm rather weak, and can't do many push ups. I can do 60 crunches before my back gives up, but as far as full push ups go, I can only do 10. Would yoga help? I don't have cable, so can anyone reccomend good YouTube videos that I can watch? And when I need a weight, what are some household items that are good to use as weights? Would filling an empty milk jug work well, if I used water to start and slowly added heavier things, such as sand or small rocks? I'm broke right now, but I don't want to wait any longer to start.
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Unread 09-09-2014, 05:43 PM   #9
lemuries
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Maybe you could get some cardio just doing long bike rides?
Do you have any stairs? Running up and down them carefully is a great way to build up leg muscles. And you can build up calf muscles using a step too.

Your milk jug idea is a great one, too. You could also try a backpack full of books, maybe slung onto your front to make it easier for your back? Could you maybe make a belt and put cans of food into clean socks and tie that onto your belt?

My back also is very weak when doing crunches, and one way I support it is to stick my straight arms under my sides&butt when doing leg lifts. I also find it easier to do them on my bed, because it's a fancy temperpedic, but I also have a dog pad that gives me enough support to do my crunches.

Do you know about planks? They are incredibly hard which means they can build muscle too. Just be careful not to sway your back or you can hurt it. I have to stick my butt in the air somewhat to keep from hurting my lower back when I do planks. The 30 day plank challenge is a way of slowly building up muscle by using planks.

Any chance you have a sledgehammer lying around? You could use the "shovelglove" technique to build up muscle, though if I were you, I would try those movements carefully at first to see if they trigger your back pain. But I like that it's free if you already have the sledge around, but works so many different muscles!

I love yoga, because it stretches me out, but I never felt like it made me any stronger. But real yogis are incredibly strong, so maybe I didn't stick with it long enough.

Have you heard of supermans? They are something else you can do that's free and works things like glutes and hamstrings, provided it doesn't trigger your back.

If you do pushups on a higher surface (a sturdy table, a low countertop, stairs), you should be able to do more of them longer than if you're working completely on the ground.

Oh, and walking lunges are awesome for building up legs, and they are free too. They should have you begging for mercy the next day without too much wait. I always watch out for stepping too far forward, and not focusing on bringing my knee down far. My trainer is always careful to point out that the foot you step out with needs to stay under your knee, to avoid damaging the joint. And she always pairs lunges with squats, so you might try them together.
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Unread 09-09-2014, 06:36 PM   #10
SigfriedWild
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Yoga is great, and so is bike riding. And as far as push ups go, yes at first you'll be weak. To get the ability to do more requires perseverance, and I suggest trying to do one more push up each day, to build up slowly. I too started at ten push ups. If those are too difficult, you might want to try girly push ups, where you keep your knees on the ground instead of your feet. And speaking of yogis, part of the reason they had so much power was because of their exercise routine. They did Hindu pushups, where you start with your butt in the air, then dive down like going under a limbo pole with your back, then back to the starting position. They also did Hindu squats, where you put your hands straight out, breathe in and pull them back, put your hands behind you, squat down with your heels off the ground, exhaling all the while, then swing your arms up as you come back to the starting position. The masters did sets of about 500 every day; that's how they were so skinny and so strong at the same time.
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Unread 09-10-2014, 01:06 PM   #11
Floating World
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elomlo-middie View Post
Thank you all so much for your speedy help so far. I don't have acess to a pool, but I can see about possibly getting a membership to my local YMCA. It would be easy enough for me to just bike over there. I'll see if I can convince my dad to let me.
What is a good way to start building muscle? I'm rather weak, and can't do many push ups. I can do 60 crunches before my back gives up, but as far as full push ups go, I can only do 10. Would yoga help? I don't have cable, so can anyone reccomend good YouTube videos that I can watch? And when I need a weight, what are some household items that are good to use as weights? Would filling an empty milk jug work well, if I used water to start and slowly added heavier things, such as sand or small rocks? I'm broke right now, but I don't want to wait any longer to start.
Instead of push-ups or sit-ups, try planks. Once you can hold a plank in proper form for, I don't know, 30 seconds to a minute, try variations like side planks, lifting your legs (alternating), stuff like that. It's a whole body workout.

I really like Tara Stiles yoga and Cardio Barre videos on YouTube. The nice thing about strength training with yoga and Pilates is that you don't need equipment. It's isometric exercise.
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