Frequently Asked Questions

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Just as with any realm of expertise, working with a professional trainer gives you access to their knowledge base. A good trainer will be able to tell you exactly which exercises you need to do, how much you need to rest, and what you need to eat. Whilst you could discover this information yourself through comprehensive research, getting into something as vast as exercise comes with too many inherent unknowns to make self study a time effective pursuit. Many people also find the accountability a personal trainer provides to be a huge factor. Just knowing that there is someone you'll have to answer to if you don't show up is a great motivating factor.
Free weights are the dumbbells and barbells that you see either stacked up by walls or littered over the floor in gyms (and private garages). Lifting free weights represents a true reflection of your strength. This is because they offer you no help; you simply have to pick them up and complete an exercise. Resistance machines, on the other hand, are normally designed to facilitate your ability to lift a weight at the point where your joint needs the most assistance. These machines are the big, complex-looking metal structures you see in the gym. They compensate for the fact that your lifting ability will be limited by the amount of strength at a certain angle. The machines work to help you through the 'dead' spots of a lift, unlike free weights. Another key difference is that resistance machines will generally isolate only the targeted muscle groups, whereas free-weights will call upon an array of stabilizers and assisting muscles to aid the lift. Generally speaking, if you are new to training you should be using resistance machines until your body is conditioned, at which point you can safely move onto free weights.
This is always a difficult question to field, as there's a lot of debate around the subject. It bears working through. Lets assume that there are two main ways to do cardio work for fat-loss. The first is very light exercise, where the heart rate beats at around 105-120 beats per minute and there is little or no barrier to recovery. The second is highly intensive training, where your heart rate is pushed up close to its max, which functions to stimulate your metabolism and burn excess fuel. Light exercise benefits from operating within the 'fat burning zone', meaning that proportionately you burn more calories from fat (though less calories overall) in comparison to other forms of exercise. A second benefit is that you can basically do as much of it as you like, as you don't need time to recover from your exertions. Highly intensive training however, stimulates your metabolism to burn fat far quicker, but must be respected and given adequate recovery time. With that all established, the crucial thing I find when working with clients is that a typical run manages to be neither one nor the other. The heart rate on a jog will not be optimal for fat loss, and the duration of the workout is often too long to benefit from the 'in and out' nature of intensive training. In fact, running can even bring about a negative change in your body composition. If you are not careful with your nutrition when running frequently, you run the risk of depleting your body's glycogen stores, forcing your body to convert existing muscle into fuel for your workout. Consequently you lose muscle weight, leaving you with a higher proportion of fat in your body. My answer to the question is that walking and sprinting are both excellent ways to burn fat. Leave the jogging for running events, not fat loss.
Rest required between workouts depends on both your conditioning and the nature of your workouts. If you are well conditioned to exercise you may be able to train each day or even twice per day - although almost certainly not the same form of exercise or targeted muscles groups. If you are new to exercise, particularly resistance work, you should be doing total body workouts to get your body to adapt to the new stress you are putting on it. In this case, I would suggest rest periods of at least 48-72 hours.
Generally speaking ... none. Diets are inherently temporary, and many popular diet plans are so restrictive that thinking you are going to be able to sustain them probably isn't realistic. The real solution to healthy dietary intake is to find a balanced, non-restrictive eating plan that you find easy to sustain. This way you will be able to maintain your ideal weight. Once you are able to balance your eating and know what your body requires, you can consider temporary restrictive eating programs to achieve specific goals. But not before.
This is a very common and understandable misconception. I think it has arisen through anecdotal evidence of big guys who have stopped training and quickly slipped from being muscular to fat. Boxers are a great example. The weight gain is typically because the men have become so used to eating large amounts of food when training that they continue the habit even when idle. Combine this with the reduction of calorie expenditure and you're left with a huge calorie surplus every day. If you avoid eating too much when you stop training, what actually happens is that your muscles lose bulk (they're no longer needed to perform at high levels) but your body fat stays the same.
Even if you’ve never been active, it’s never too late to reap the many health benefits of regular exercise. Regular cardiovascular exercise, such as brisk walking, bicycling or swimming strengthens the heart and muscles, boosts energy and endurance. It also helps control blood sugar and cholesterol levels and works as a natural mood elevator. Being sedentary raises the risk for developing such serious health conditions as diabetes and heart disease. Strength exercise, or resistance training, helps preserve muscle tissue and bone health. It’ll help you stay strong, so you can go about your normal daily activities.
Consult with your health care provider before starting an exercise program. Ask about precautions specific to your condition and which exercises are beneficial and safe for you. Regular exercise helps manage health conditions and can speed up the recovery process of serious illnesses, including heart attack, stroke and joint-replacement surgery. Your doctor may recommend that you start exercising in a medically-supervised setting before you exercise on your own.
Water exercises (swimming, water walking) or non weight-bearing exercises (bicycling, rowing, elliptical machines) are easier on the joints and often recommended for people with joint issues. However, your health care provider may recommend some weight-bearing exercises (walking, jogging) to protect and strengthen your bones.
Start with 5 minutes or whatever you can manage, then gradually work up to 30 minutes a day of cardiovascular exercise most days of the week. You should notice a difference in how you feel within 6-8 weeks. Perform muscle-strengthening exercises twice weekly with at least 24 hours in between sessions. To get started, hire a certified personal trainer, attend group strength-training classes, visit your library to check out a strength-training DVD and visit the ACE Exercise Library.
Even if your weight is in a healthy range, regular exercise is key for maintaining good health and to reduce health risks. One study showed that physically fit overweight people had significantly lower health risks than thin, sedentary people. An inactive lifestyle raises your risk for developing serious health conditions, including metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and heart disease.
Strength-training is critical for older adults. Adults lose 4-6 lbs. of muscle tissue per decade, which means a significant loss of body strength and a lower resting metabolism. Older adults who undergo a structured strength-training program have shown to regain lost muscle mass, increase their strength, metabolism, bone density and balance and improve their quality of life. One study linked muscular strength to reduced stiffness in the aorta, the major artery carrying blood from the heart to the rest of the body, which can reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular events, independent of current aerobic fitness levels. However, if calorie intake isn’t also reduced, fat weight increases.
Well, for starters, what kind of carbs? Most people love breads, pasta, pizza..etc.. The saying is, “if you can burn it, you can eat it.” Problem is, most of us eat more carbs than we can burn! Try this on for size, after 4 or 5, replace your breads and pasta with vegetables! They are high in fiber, low in calories are count as carbs! Try to avoid too much rice, pasta or any starchy carbs later in the day. Why? Because you are likely not going to burn them and they will get stored as, you guess it, fat! Also make use of exchanges! For instance, if you are going to have a cup of rice, don’t eat the roll! Which would you rather have? You’ll have to choose one other another! Cutting out is not the answer, moderation is! If you have been disciplined all week with your diet, have that cheat meal, whether it be a piece of pizza, a piece of cheese cake, or whatever you want! Remember, your diet needs to be shocked too like your workout. You can’t do a workout the same and you can’t always eat the same exact way. Your body will get used to anything! Having a cheat meal once a week, on the weekend is a treat to yourself. You deserve it, if you have been good.
You may be able to see results in the first 4-8 weeks. This depends in large part to your nutrition. You can work out as hard as you’d like. If you do not eat right, you will not get far.
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