Hi, I know it's been a while since I posted a video blog. I recorded this one a while ago but never had time to post about it, so here it is. I recorded this one because I had been getting a lot of questions/comments about my arms. Check out the video and then read the (very lengthy!) recap.
I tend to avoid answering these types of very specific questions for the same reason I rarely talk about what I eat - there are just so many variables involved, especially in "how I got a certain body part to look a certain way". Before answering, I like to set up expectations and always throw out the disclaimer that no one will have the exact same results. Just a few factors that will affect your results are your genetics, form, consistency and I think even what you eat plays a factor.
Also, keep in mind, you have to lose a certain amount of fat before the muscles even become visible. I'm sure some of mine are still hidden under a layer of... extra stuff. But that's ok because even the muscles that are not visible to the naked eye are making me stronger and helping me burn calories. Did you know that the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn - even at rest? This is why - typically - men lose weight faster, because they have more muscle mass.
In fact, when I first joined the gym in 2006, this was the MAIN reason I joined the gym. I thought "If I can get just a little muscle tone, I can lose weight faster" I had no intention of getting fit or healthy or strong or changing how my body looked/worked or that I'd become a cyclist or a runner. That really is what first got me to the gym - the desperate hope that if I had a tiny bit more muscle, I could lose weight faster. And I think this is important to note, again, to set up expectations: working out doesn't equate with losing every week. In fact, for the first 3 months I was on plan my weight went up and down from week to week. I did not let that discourage me though because I knew I was in it for the long haul. I knew I was doing the right things (moving and eating better) and I knew that eventually the scale would catch up. Because sometimes I'd see it in my clothes and in the mirror before it showed up on the scale. And I was ok with that. And it's why I tell you repeatedly: stop obsessing about the scale. Just work on your choices.
So even though I am often hesitant to answer these types of questions, I wanted to address it a little since it comes up fairly often. Here's the answer:
Basically I only workout my muscles once a week, and that's in a class called Total Body Conditioning. It's my favorite class! We work (I think) every major muscle group - quads, glutes, hamstrings, inner thighs, calves, back, biceps, triceps, shoulders and abs. Our trainer Aynsley tells us to 'overload our muscles' - using the heaviest weights possible and doing the exercises with perfect form, but stopping when we can no longer hold perfect form. She tells us all the time that if we can finish a set, our weights are too light.
I started off doing this class with my 'heavy' weights being 5 pounds. I eventually went up to 8 pounds, then 10 pounds. And just yesterday in class I challenged myself - using 15 pound and 12 pound weights. I started off doing 1 push up, I can now do 15. I hold plank - even when she tells us to take a break I do not. I stay up there because I can! I do every thing I can in that class with the most perfect form possible because I want to get the most out of it. That class has made me stronger and I am pretty sure it completely changed how parts of my body look. I love that class and look forward to it every week.
The only other thing I think I can attribute to my arms and shoulders looking the way I do is riding my bike. That bike is 50 pounds on its own, but closer to 60 when I have my lock, bag and whatever else I'm carrying around with me. I tend to grip the handlebars pretty tight, so it's like a constant workout for my arms and shoulders.
You can see some shoulder definition when I take photos from my bike, especially in the right shoulder (the one holding the camera)-
|Note: shoulder muscles!|
While I'm at it, I'll very briefly address my abs as well. I get questions about them too. Quite honestly, I would never say I have good abs. But I know that occasionally something shows up in a photo that appears to be ab-like, as seen here.
|June 18, 2011 At Nathan's in Coney Island, with beer & fries.|
If you look on my left side you can see a tiny amount of oblique definition that sometimes shows up in photos. I assure you that further down my stomach I do not have any definition because there is still a lot of skin/fat. Again, as for 'what I do/did' to get this to happen? I have no idea. But I think the combination of having a fairly small rib cage/waist area (less fat) means those muscles show up a little faster for me. But as for actual oblique work, I only do about 5 minutes, once a week, in Total Body Conditioning. That's it.
So in summary - just work out, be active, and challenge yourself. In all likelihood you'll change parts of your body and wonder "Wow! How the heck did that happen?!" just like I did!