Our fitness professionals answer your most asked questions about fitness, health, nutrition, and exercise. It is so important that you get your information from educated coaches who will give you accurate advice.
Should I work out every day? –
When it comes to exercise, putting in the time is important. Exercising one or two days a week will not really provide the time needed to meet exercise goals. That being said, recovery is important to make adaptations needed for strengthening muscles. My job as a trainer is to break down your muscles. The healing process through sleep, rest and proper nutrition is where adaptations occur. If you train every day without sleep and nutrition you are breaking down muscles and not allowing them to heal stronger which makes your body more prone to injury. The answer is, having a mix of strength training and aerobic exercise throughout the week is the best plan for meeting goals. Having two or three strength days each week Is enough for muscular strength training. On strength days, including shorter aerobic sessions is okay but doing 2 to three days each week of longer cardiovascular sessions is needed as well. This plan should work best plan for the average adult who is either trying to lose weight, get in shape or just stay healthy. Again, it is still important to make sure you are getting the proper amount of rest. There is nothing wrong with taking one day off per week but if you choose to train daily, be sure one of those days is a recovery day with either yoga or a relaxing walk. Finding a happy medium of strength training, cardiovascular training and rest will give you the best balance needed for meeting exercise goals.
How do I lose weight? –
B.S. Exercise Science,
ACSM-HFS, Performance Coach
If it’s not asked, it’s frequently implied. Here’s what I say every time: it depends. There are four subsequent questions I then have – What’s your nutrition like, how often do you exercise, how well do you sleep, and what’s your stress level? All of these things affect your weight. However, before we move forward I try to change the initial question. If I continue to entertain this question, the entire focus of our training becomes a number. You’re more than a number and I don’t want you to waste your time chasing one. The question should be, “How can I live a healthier lifestyle” or “How do I feel and look better?” If we shift our focus to living a healthy lifestyle, looking better, and feeling better, weight loss will be a result.
All of my follow up questions still apply – we need to talk about nutrition, exercise frequency, sleep, and stress in order to feel better, look better, and to achieve a healthy lifestyle. Entire books and various studies have been done to answer my follow up questions. For the sake of brevity, I’ll keep it simple. For nutrition, we need to be aware of what we put into our bodies and how they contribute to our energy systems. In regards to exercise frequency, it depends on your current lifestyle and where you would like to be – more is not always better. When it comes to sleep, the bottom line is you need 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Lastly, you need to manage your stress levels through by limiting poor lifestyle activities and channeling your energy into positive avenues (like exercise).
Why do I need a butt and how do I get one? –
M.S. Exercise Science,
CSCS, ACE-FNS, Performance Coach
Your glutes are the motor of your body and the foundation of your core. Weak, deactivated glutes are the root of many back and posture issues and lower limb injuries. If you want to be a more powerful athlete, you need strong glutes. If you want to combat that low back pain, it’s time to get those glutes firing.
A simple glute activation exercise is the hip bridge. To execute the hip bridge, lay down with your back on the floor and feet planted firmly on the ground by your hips. Pushing through your heels, lift the hips off the ground so there is a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Perform 2-3 sets, 10-20 repetitions.
The best way to develop your glutes through strength training is to incorporate exercises like squats, dead lifts, and kettle bell swings into your workout.
What are the best strength training exercises for runners? –
B.S. Exercise Science,
CSCS, Performance Coach
Runners are hard core. They run mile after mile, inside and outside, sunshine and rain, heat and cold!
Runners often ask me what the best strength training exercises are to stay injury free and be able to keep doing what they most want to be doing, running!
While running is a total body activity, the eccentric forces absorbed by the legs on each and every step make leg strength critical to maximizing performance and staying healthy. One of the best exercises a runner can do to develop this critical leg strength is walking lunges! Walking lunges mimic the single leg running cycle by placing single leg eccentric loading demands on the body and then requiring an explosive concentric action from the other leg. Start with body weight and 3 sets of 10 steps on each leg and build up to adding weight to increase the intensity. Load can be added with a weight vest, dumbbells, kettle bells, or a barbell! Always make sure you have consulted with a professional to ensure that you are using the correct form and exercising with safe movement patterns. Happy running!
How can my athlete become more powerful/explosive? –
Explosiveness is an important piece to many sports from football and basketball to soccer, track, and field. The best way to begin developing power is by increasing strength through resistance training. Exercises such as squats, dead lifts, and upper-body presses cover many of the important muscle groups that most athletes need for peak performance. Once the athlete has a solid strength base, their explosive ability can be further trained with the Olympic lifts. Olympic lifts include cleans (moving the barbell from the floor to the shoulders in one continuous, powerful movement), jerks (moving the barbell from the shoulders to directly over head using a powerful leg drive and arm press), and snatches (moving the barbell from the floor to directly overhead using one continuous, powerful movement). These movements can be developed piece by piece, and each progression will help to develop the athlete’s explosive potential.
Olympic lifts help athletes develop power because in order to move the barbell from the floor to their shoulders (for a clean), they must use each of their body-levers to apply force onto the bar and transfer a horizontal hip drive into vertical power. If they are able to use their hips to create enough power onto a heavy barbell to drive it upwards, then they should also be successful at applying that same power to themselves to create an explosive movement such as a vertical jump or sprint.
Can I Spot Reduce? –
B.S. Exercise Science,
CSCS, Performance Coach
Everyone would like to lose a couple of inches or pounds from their butt, thighs, belly, back; but the fact is that it is NOT possible to spot reduce. What do I mean by spot reduce? Well, spot reduce means trying to lose a certain amount of fat from one area of the body without affecting the rest of the body.
When you exercise, your body’s metabolism increases and creates the need for energy. In a nutshell, your body will start to use some of the carbohydrates stored for energy. Afterwards, it is not until about 15-20min of exercise that your body will start to mobilize fat to be used as an energy source. However, you can increase the amount of fat you burn throughout the day due to intensity and type of exercise. You will burn more calories (3500cal=1lb fat), in a 48hr period, due to heavy lifting and sprints compared to being on the elliptical for 60min.
So, while we wish it was true that we could lose where we want and keep where we want, unfortunately it is a myth. Your goals are to keep lifting heavy weights, perform sprints and maintain healthy eating habits. Good luck in your endeavors and remember, “If it was easy, everybody would be doing it!”
Would Resistance Training Benefit My Cardio/Endurance Performance?
B.S. Human Nutrition,
Foods and Exercise, CSCS, Performance Coach
Throughout my professional and academic career, I have had this question multiple times, as people seem to think that “lifting” or resistance training has little to no carry over to endurance training. However, resistance training has a tremendously positive effect on one’s ability to sustain continuous, sub-maximal, muscle contractions, which are common in endurance type events, such as running, cycling and rowing.
There are a variety of rep ranges and program formats that can stimulate this beneficial adaptation, but some of the most common methods are programming your lifts in the “local muscle endurance” rep range and staggering your exercise routines into “circuits.” The prior method (local muscle endurance) can be obtained by keeping all of your lifts to at least 14 rep’s or maxing the repetition range to 20 rep’s (14-20). Any less and you’re focusing more on muscle growth for strength and any more than 20 repetitions could lead to a breakdown in form and opens the door for injury.
The benefits of these rep ranges can be amplified when combined with “circuit” style programming, based around setting up exercises one after another (usually in a group of 3-4 exercises for 3-4 sets). Within this style of programming there are little to no rest breaks between exercises until the set is complete, and even then, the rest break should be no longer than 1.5 minutes.
So you might be asking yourself how this works? By providing your body with an enlarged stimulus (i.e. progressively loaded resistance training), you are delivering your skeletal muscles a potent stimulus for adaptation. A stimulus that will allow them to not only increase their energy stores (muscle glycogen) but also allows for a positive muscular adaptation that slowly converts your baseline musculature (IIx) into a more endurance based muscle fiber type (IIa) that can still produce a greater amount of force. This type of training can also provide your muscles with a greater “buffering capacity,” which allows you to sustain exercise for extended periods of time as it delays detrimental pH changes within the muscle itself.
So, yes, resistance training benefits endurance based exercise and should undoubtedly be a part of all endurance based programs, from the competitive athlete to the weekend warrior.