When aiming to change how your body looks, for instance less fat on arms and legs, should you focus on monitoring how much weight you lose or train hard and keep going until you have the body you desire, not worrying so much about your weight?

This question is related to females rather than males.

  • Think changing of physical appearance is better as while you train to change the physical appearance, unknowingly you will be cutting down on the amount of fats you have.
    – Jie Liang
    May 24 '12 at 8:42

The answer to your question is largely personal. However, there are a couple things you may want to consider:

  • How strong am I?
  • How thin do I want to be?
  • How do I want to feel?

Take a look at this link with visual references for body fat percentages. Keep scrolling down for the women. What you want to look like is a personal matter, but those give you a visual reference so you can see when it happens to you.

But I do want to drive home one point. Look at the image below (I know it's a man):

enter image description here

The same body fat percentage will look differently once you've hit it based on what's underneath the fat. That's where the muscle comes in. I'm not saying you have to lift weights, even though it brings a smile to my face every time I see another woman lifting seriously in the gym. The point is, without some form of exercise, you may look like the poster child for anorexia where your knees are wider than your thighs due to the lack of muscle.

The bottom line is that you can work on both at the same time. It will probably be faster to do what you want at the same time, but if you slowly melt off the fat onto a fit frame, you'll probably be a lot more motivated to get to your end goal.


I think it greatly depends on what one wants to look like and change in their looks. Excess fat is going to be excess no matter what, even if one builds a muscular frame the fat will not go away. Long-term(doesn't mean "slow results"!) aerobic training with weigh-loss in mind is the way to go. Mere hard excercise isn't going to put the fat away, and on the other hand even if it would build some muscle, it won't look good under fat anyway.

I wouldn't recommend using weight as an absolute reference of progress alone; looking good isn't inversely proportional to weight. Less isn't necessarily better, it all depends on what kind of excersice one does, how much, how often and nutrition for example.

To change physical appearance one needs to get rid of the fat anyway, so starting with losing some weight is te way to go.


To some extent it depends on where you are starting from. For somebody who is obese, it is probably best to concentrate on losing weight. If you are pretty fit but want to tone up then working out is the way to go.

Remember that you can't really lose weight from particular places, arms and legs for instance.

Tweaking your diet is always worthwhile. NB I dislike the idea of "dieting", it doesn't work. We each have a diet, adjust it to change your body in the way you want to, but consider it a semi-permanent change.


I think you should focus on your appearance because as your appearance improves so will your motivation at the gym.

When I see my trainer he asks me every now and then what my focus area is, and then we work on that area until it looks better then switch to other area.

e.g. at the moment my chest is looking good so we are focusing more on shoulders to get them out more.

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