Ask the Personal Trainer: Can Walking Offer Upper Body Results?

I pump my arms while walking, but see no results in my upper body. Why?

Q: I am walking 2.5 miles briskly every morning and can see the results in my lower body. But although I pump my arms vigorously, I see no results in my upper body. What can I do to lose the weight from the abdomen up?

A: I often see people walking along pumping their arms vigorously. While this may mildly strengthen the upper body, the motion is going unresisted, so it won't have much effect. A better strategy would be to add some upper body weight training to your fitness regime.

I know you're eager to see results in your upper body, but how long have you been doing this walking program? You may just need to be patient and wait for your body to start pulling fat from the upper-body storage sites.

Furthermore "spot reduction" — focusing on site-specific exercises to localize body-fat loss — simply does not work. That is, you can do abdominal crunches and upper-body resistance exercises till you're blue in the face, but you won't selectively burn more fat from the abdomen than you would exercising an entirely different area of your body at the same caloric intensity.

So focus on your walking to maximize your whole-body fat burning, and complement it with some upper-body resistance exercise to firm and strengthen these muscles. Be consistent, and you will see results.

In this Q&A series, William Sukala, MS, CSCS, answers questions about fitness and exercise. Read more articles from our personal trainer.

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