I have been doing Tae Bo and bodybuilding for 2 years. My problem is I still have fat on my hamstrings under my butt and it’s really bothering me. What can I do about this? Are there any specific exercises I can do or cardio workouts to help firm up this area? In regards to nutrition, if I workout at 8pm is it okay to eat a protein meal 2 hours before and then have another protein shake after my workout at 9:30pm?
Wow! Sounds like you have been working hard! I understand your frustrations with those hard to reach body parts on the back of the thighs under your butt. These areas are very hard to target and can become very bothersome. In order to target these areas, let’s make sure you are hitting them from all angles which includes nutrition and fitness.
You have some good questions, and in order to answer them I will need to find out a few important things:
- After 2 years of exercising with Tae Bo, do you still feel challenged?
- What was your fitness level, exercise routine before you started Tae Bo and bodybuilding?
- How often and for how long are your Tae Bo workouts?
- Have you tried changing your cardio routine?
The same questions go for bodybuilding. Do you workout each body part with the same exercises you used the week before or do you train your muscles with new, different and challenging exercises? For example, do you always do the same old squats on the Smith machine with 50 pounds while never changing the weight or exercise? Or, do you perform squats using the Smith machine one week, then change to squats with free weights and lunges the next week? Have you taken your measurements lately including thigh circumference? Consistently challenging your muscles in as many ways possible will not only strengthen your muscles but also increase bone strength which is equally important for men and women to prevent osteoporosis in the future.
As I mentioned above, alternating the type of cardiovascular exercise is also very important. Just like alternating resistance exercises (weight, repetitions, sets) which will challenge the muscles, we also want to challenge the heart and lungs in as many ways as possible. Not only will switching up the type of aerobic exercise you do result in a more efficient heart rate but oxygen consumption as well.
Three components of cardiovascular exercise should always be utilized to obtain maximum results. This includes frequency, intensity and duration. If you do not challenge these three components, your body will simply remain the same. Just think about what happens to a biceps muscle if you only lift 10 pounds for 3 sets of 12 reps and you do this day in and day out. Your muscles will have no reason to grow and get stronger since they receiving the same amount of stimulus each workout. So, always try to mix it up and shock your body! This goes for both cardio and resistance training.
I highly recommend alternating Tae Bo with other forms of cardio such as running, swimming, biking, step classes and the elliptical machine to assist with decreasing excess body fat, improving strength and increasing muscle tone. Remember as frustrating as it may be, we can never directly spot reduce or spot gain so try to focus on a holistic approach in order to burn calories and reduce fat from all over the body.
Finally, have you ever tried yoga? Yoga is amazing as a toning, strength building and muscle stretching component that everyone should add to their routine. I highly recommend it to everyone who chooses to lead a healthier life. Adding yoga should not be stressful or time-consuming. Just 10-15 minutes of practice several times per week would be sufficient. Not to mention how practicing yoga can lead you to a more balanced, peaceful and calmer well-being.
You can find some great yoga instructional guides here on ShapeFit. Here is a quick yoga workout to try:
- Start in the mountain pose then move to downward facing dog, flow to upward facing dog holding each pose for 5 breathes. Start with these 3 poses and once you feel comfortable with these, move on to add poses including some seating as well as twisting poses.
There are many benefits to yoga, just as there are to the other practices you are currently doing to maintain good health. Adding yoga to your wellness routine will help in ways that other physical activity can not.
Explore what works for you. Try these alternate routines for at least 6-8 weeks being mindful to really challenge yourself mentally and physically with several of the suggestions I have given you. After these 6-8 weeks I am sure you will see a difference in how your hamstrings look and feel.
Finally, let’s address the nutrition part of your question. Have you tried tweaking your diet a bit? Perhaps decreasing excess refined carbohydrates or decreasing unhealthy choices? In an ideal world, I would have your food journal in front of me and would be able to provide suggestions to improve. All of us can improve the food choices we make.
In regards to your protein intake concerns, it really depends on what exactly is in your meal and shake. If your workout (Tae Bo or other cardio exercise) is more than 60 minutes, then its best to replete your muscles glycogen stores within 30 minutes after exercising. Ideally, that meal or snack is 2 parts carbohydrate and 1 part protein (example: 20 grams of protein and 40 grams of carbs). As I do not know your height or weight and frequency of exercise, it is hard to suggest the optimal amount of protein you should consume. However, if your current diet includes a serving of protein at each meal or snack, this should be sufficient.
Make sure to be an educated consumer. Read labels and know what a serving size is. For example, 8 ounces of milk is a serving size. It is important to get good nutrition from eating a variety of foods. For protein, all of the essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein) can be found in foods of animal origin, as well as nuts, and soy products. Beans are a great source of protein also and when combined with a whole grain food, it’s a complete protein with all the essential amino acids the body requires. Combining a whole grain with a bean or legume is a great way to get your protein needs especially for those who would like to eat a more plant-based, environmentally friendly diet. Keep in mind, that if consuming more calories than needed will result in weight gain so always make sure to monitor your daily calorie intake.