How Do I Tighten Up My Abs Without Losing Weight?


question-icon-newI want to get into shape and really tighten up my abs. My problem is I tend to lose weight when I workout and I don’t want to lose any more weight since I’m already pretty thin. I simply want to tighten some loose areas such as my abs, butt and arms. I love my body and my current weight is perfect since I’m tall and it looks good on me. How do I achieve tighter abs without losing weight?

answer-icon-newThere is a common misunderstanding that exercise makes a person lose weight. This misconception is understandable since the first thing people are told they need to do in order to lose weight is exercise. But the truth is that a caloric deficit is what makes a person lose weight. Exercise only makes it easier to create this deficit by increasing the body’s energy expenditure. If this increased expenditure is met with an equal increase in calories, you will basically break even. In other words, you can exercise all you want but if you are eating the same amount of calories you are burning every day, that needle on the scale isn’t going to budge. That is great news because in your case that is exactly what you want.

So the first step for you is to be aware that as you begin an exercise program, you will need to increase your daily caloric intake in proportion to the amount of exercise you are doing. If you are looking to maintain your current weight then you will need to maintain a balance between calories burned and calories consumed. You can easily track your diet and find out how your daily calories add up by using online fitness trackers to help you.

The next step is to make sure that your workouts are tailored towards strength training. Not only do you need your weight training to be focused on strength and toning but your cardio workouts as well. People tend to view cardio exercise as long repetitive hours spent on a stationary bike or treadmill but not all cardio workouts are created equally. In fact, it is not necessary to separate your cardio from your resistance training. One of the most effective ways of combining strength movements with cardio exercise is through various combinations of circuit training.

Circuit training is combining a certain number of exercises performed consecutively with minimal rest in between exercises. Many of today’s more popular workout systems use this method. P90x, Crossfit, and the Insanity workouts all use this principle to great effect. By performing various resistance exercises consecutively over an extended period of time these sets or “circuits” become both strength training as well as cardio training. An example may look like this:

  • Jump Rope (5 minutes)
  • Push-ups (30 seconds)
  • Crunches (30 seconds)
  • Plank (30 seconds)
  • Jumping jacks (30 seconds)
  • Dumbbell curls (30 seconds)
  • Jump squats (30 seconds)

The completion of this circuit would constitute 1 set with a total of 3-5 sets for your workout. The circuit may contain as many exercises as you would like but the point is that resistance exercises performed in succession can be a great form of cardio exercise as well.

Assuming that you are eating ample calories to replenish the energy burned and focusing your training towards building strength, you should find yourself in better shape without losing any weight.

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    • Hi Felecia – The best thing to do is ask your doctor what he recommends. Everyone is different so he will know your specific condition and should be able to recommend some exercises for you to use that won’t cause issues with your spine.

    • Hi Ash – The key is to continue lifting heavy weights in order to maintain your muscle mass as you are trying to lean down with cardio and a clean diet.

    • Hi Gemma – You can do bodyweight exercises at home without the need for any equipment. You can also use exercise bands if you want to workout at home with some added resistance. Your overall calories will dictate how much weight you gain or lose.

    • Hi Samantha – You should start lifting weights in order to build lean muscle mass. Start off with 3 weight training workouts per week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) and train different muscle groups each workout (chest/back on Monday, legs on Wednesday and shoulders/arms on Friday). Keep your workouts to about 45-60 minutes in length and don’t be scared to lift heavy weights. Good luck!

  1. I weigh 165 pounds and I’m 6’2″. How can I go about gaining more weight with little to no equipment? I have a 20 pound dumbbell and wanted to know what kind of exercises I should do. I currently do push ups, squats and lift my dumbbell using each arm. I do this routine every day. However, I’m not gaining any weight or muscle mass. Why is that?

    • Hi Roy – In order to gain more muscle mass, you will need to increase the weight being lifted. A 20 pound dumbbell is fine for high repetition maintenance training using different exercises, but it will do very little for packing on a significant amount of lean muscle tissue. You need to increase the resistance and overload the muscle with lots of weight in order to tear down the muscle fibers and force the muscle to grow. If you have access to a gym, that will be your best option. Look for the budget gyms for around $10/month like Crunch and Planet Fitness if you’re in the United States. You should also not train the same muscle groups every single day. Split up your workouts and target a specific muscle each day. This is what’s called a “training split” and you can break it up into 3-day, 4-day and 5-day splits that cover your entire body.

  2. I want to get a toned, fit body but I don’t want to lose weight. I’m unable to go to the gym and I’m not sure what to do. Also I tend to bulk up (muscle) in my arms and legs when I exercise, but I’m a girl and I don’t like it. What exercise should I do to correct this?

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