Fitness / Weight Training: Targeting Specific Body Parts

Depending on what body parts you want to enhance, there are specific fitness weight training exercises you can do to target problem areas. For most women who begin weight training, they experience increased tone, but not necessarily increased muscle size. Targeting specific areas is not going to zap fat from those places, but rather will tone your muscle and increase strength.

Why Weight Training?

Weight training can improve your posture and help keep your body in balance. The stronger muscles that you develop will help prevent injury and can help reshape problem areas. Through a combination of a low fat diet, aerobic activity, and weight training, you can tone your body and have great results. Finally, weight training can increase your lean muscle mass, which will increase your metabolism.

Weight Training Goals

You should approach strength training and weight lifting based on what your goals are. If your goal is to lose body fat and increase cardiovascular endurance, you may want to consider doing weight lifting exercises in succession (doing 1 set of 10 to 15 repetitions), working your way through all the exercises. This circuit training approach is helpful when you are trying to lose weight and tone your body.

However, if you are interested in increasing overall muscle mass, you are going to want to exercise your muscles according to body specific exercise. For example, you should do 3 sets of 10 for the chest on the bench press, then 3 sets of 10 for the shoulders on the shoulder press, and so on with all the body parts being exercised.

Body Part Specific Exercises

These upper and lower body exercises are core weight training exercises used to build upper body endurance and muscle tone. They can be done either with free weights or on a machine. For beginners, it is recommended that you use a machine, as it positions your body correctly and there is less risk of injury related to lifting the weights improperly. Begin with light weights and work on your form before you increase your lifting weight. It is recommended that once you have the form down, that you should increase weight at a rate no greater than 10% weekly.

Upper Body Weight Training

The upper body is divided into four muscle groups:

  • shoulders
  • chest
  • biceps 
  • triceps

Experts suggest working on each group on a different day, with a day of rest in between. You should target each muscle group with three different exercises in a row, and then repeat the series three times (with no longer than a 60 second break in between). Some upper weight training exercises include:

  • Bench press – chest
  • Incline dumbbell press – upper chest
  • Shoulder side-lateral raise – shoulder
  • Biceps curl – biceps
  • Triceps push-down – triceps
  • Push ups – chest, shoulders
  • Back extension – back
  • Overhead press – shoulders
  • Front raises – shoulders
  • Dips – triceps, shoulders, biceps

Lower Body Weight Training

A problem area for many women, the lower body can be strengthened using a variety of rather simple exercises. Whether using a machine or free weights, to really tighten your thighs, glutes, and calves, these should be done 3 to 4 times a week, in 3 sets of 10 to 15, with only a short rest between:

  • Leg extensions – thighs
  • Leg curls – hamstrings
  • Squats – thighs, hips
  • Lunges – hips, glutes, thighs
  • Step Up – thighs
  • Side leg raise – hips and thighs

Try a combination of these exercises the next time you work out and see how you feel. For weight loss, try the circuit training approach, and to build muscle, be sure to work each part slowly, doing 3 sets of 10. Slowly build your endurance and strength, and target those problem areas to experience an overall body toning.


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