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Toning up three problem areas for summer

Friday, 15 May 2009

Today with the help of John O Connell we're helping our viewers tone up three problem areas for summer.

John O'Connell, director of SuperFastFitness, is one of Ireland's leading fitness experts. Having extensive experience working as a personal trainer in a wide variety of gyms in Ireland and abroad, John has trained thousands of members and has also developed many advanced training programmes for the fitness staff.

John has featured on television including RTE's fashion programme 'Off The Rails' and has worked as a health and fitness consultant for SPAR, the world's largest retail chain. John has an impressive client list which boasts a number of celebrities and professional organizations including the Garda Siochana Training College in Templemore, Ireland and the NewZealand All Blacks. As well as working with the NZRFU he has also been involved with many other professional sporting teams including the Leinster Senior Rugby Team, the Dublin Senior Football Team, Queensland Reds Rugby Team, Murphy and Gunn/Newlyn (a Continental Irish Cycling Team) and the Australian Cycling Team, FRF Couriers.

Jean Kelly, Operation Transformation Participant
47 year old Jean is from Dublin and lost a total of 1st 8.5 lbs over the course of Operation Transformation. She has since last a further few pounds and has now lost 2 stone.

What are the three most common problem areas?

. Back of the arms (Triceps)
. Thighs and hips
. Stomach

How have you been getting on since Operation Transformation?
Jean has been doing really well and has kept the weight off. She lost over one stone and a half throughout the Operation Transformation show. She initially didn't enjoy doing the exercises but eventually found them enjoyable.

Why are these seen as the most common problem areas?
These areas have more fat cells than others, you'll never have a fatter bicep (front of the arm) compared to the triceps. Because of this these problem areas are usually the last place you'll notice results. We burn fat from all over the body when we train not just from the specific area we are training So someone will see you've lost weight around your face quite easily and that's because a centimetre of fat lost from the face is much more noticeable then a centimetre from the stomach.

These areas are also affected by hormones. For example the reason why women have a problem with 'bingo wings' and not men is down to testosterone levels. Men have higher testosterone levels and so are generally leaner at the back of the arm. Hormones can be manipulated and reset through specific diet and exercise techniques.

What exercises can one do for each area?

. Push ups (For arms)
Lie face down on the ground. Place your hands in line with your chest (nipple line). Staying on knees you then push yourself up off the floor. Lower back down to complete one push up. If this is very difficult then bring your knees closer to your hands while keeping hands and chest in line. The closer the hands the harder it gets but the more emphasis on triceps

Common problems: Hands too far forward - you won't work your chest/arms any more. Hips stay up in the air - makes it v easy and won't work as well. Not doing full range of movement.

. Split Squat (for legs / hips)
Start standing and take a good step forward (split stance). Bending your knees lower yourself towards the ground keeping your torso straight. Push with the front leg to come back to the starting position

Common problems: Front knee moves in. Not doing full range of movement. Bending the torso as you lower.

. Step up (for legs / hips)
Use a step a bit lower than your knees. Place one foot on it and step up. Lower back down and repeat.

Common problems: Pushing with back leg too much. Knees moving in as you step up & down. Not straightening out at the top.

. Plank (for stomach)
Lie face down with elbows bent and forearms on ground under your torso. Lift torso & Legs off the ground keeping abdominals tight. Hold for 20 + seconds. Drop to knees if too difficult

Common problems: Arching your lower back. Hips too high/too low

Any further tips on toning up?
Just doing the exercises above won't necessarily deliver results. In order to see any muscle tone we must burn body fat so that the shape of the muscle will be visible (that's what tone is). In order to burn fat we must train with intensity as fat cannot be mobilised efficiently without intensity.

Walking is not a great fat burning exercise because it is generally not intense enough. We also must create a fat burning environment through correct nutrition. Starving yourself doesn't work especially when you are training. We need energy to train and to recover so by starving yourself (not giving yourself optimal energy) you'll actually end up slowing your results.

A good training programme will put these exercises into a format that makes the intensity high. John has put together a sample training programme for the viewers at