The total-body approach will help you slim down all over your body.
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When you're in a sleeveless top, shapely shoulders signal to the world that you've been spending plenty of time in the gym. When your shoulders need a little help to get there, however, don't think you have to spend all of your time in the weight room. The secrets to losing fat from the shoulder area are the same as they'd be for any part of the body, and include calorie restriction, cardiovascular exercise and strength training.
The Notion of Spot Reduction
If you're leaning toward repetitive arm and shoulder-toning exercises as the solution to your problem, you may be approaching things the wrong way. Toning exercises do have their place, but the real solution to losing fat on any part of the body is doing fat-burning exercise. That should include plenty of exercises that elevate your heart rate and help you burn calories. Shedding fat is all about creating a calorie deficit -- or in other words, burning more calories than you consume.
Choosing Calorie-Burning Exercise
The more intense the workouts, the more calories you'll burn per session. For example, running at even a slow pace will burn about twice as many calories as walking at a moderate pace. That's not to say that lower-intensity exercise can't help you -- especially if you're just starting to exercise -- but if you choose exercises that burn fewer calories, you'll need to spend more time doing them to get the same effects. Don't get hung up on working out in a "fat-burning zone" either. It's true that working out at about 50 percent of your maximum capacity will burn a higher percentage of calories from fat -- but when you increase your intensity, you'll burn more calories overall. Choose any cardio exercises that you enjoy and aim to do them at least 150 minutes per week. This could include inline skating, swimming, bicycling, aerobics or even taking the dog for a long walk.
At the same time, don't abandon strength training. Doing exercises such as pullups, shoulder presses and front dumbbell raises will help you define muscles and tone in the shoulder area. And since muscle burns calories more efficiently than fat, replacing that fat with lean muscle will help you burn more calories throughout the day. Thus, building overall muscle tone throughout the body is going to help with fat loss even more. Aim to do strength-training exercises two non-consecutive days a week, working all the major muscle groups.
There's a final piece in this puzzle that is going to help you meet your goals for shapely shoulders even faster: calorie reduction. Exercise alone can help you lose fat -- but a combination of diet and exercise is even better. The first step is finding out how many calories you should be consuming to maintain your weight, based on your age and current weight. You'll then need to find ways to reduce that number, which might include reducing portion sizes, cutting out sweets, sodas or alcohol, or replacing starches and fat with vegetables and fruits. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers safe weight loss to be about 1 to 2 pounds per week. Since 1 pound is equivalent to 3,500 calories, reduce your daily intake by 500 to 1,000 calories to comply with CDC recommendations.